The İstanbul 13th High Criminal Court on Wednesday handed down prison sentences of three years, nine months to each of three executives of the now-closed Hayatın Sesi TV station on charges of disseminating terrorist propaganda, the Evrensel daily reported.
Hayatın Sesi (Voice of Life) TV was closed down by a government decree on terrorism charges during a two-year-long state of emergency that ended in July.
The executives of the station were charged with disseminating the propaganda of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and the Kurdistan Freedom Hawks (TAK), an urban terrorist group usually regarded as affiliated with the PKK.
Some journalists criticized the court ruling after the hearing for charging the TV executives with propagandizing for terrorist groups that are enemies, such as ISIL and the PKK.
Representatives of international media organizations that attended the hearing included the International Press Institute’s (IPI) Caroline Stockford and Journalists Without Borders (RSF) Turkey chief Erol Önderoğlu.
Turkey is ranked 157th among 180 countries in the 2018 World Press Freedom Index released by Reporters Without Borders (RSF). If Turkey falls two more places, it will make it to the list of countries on the blacklist, which have the poorest record in press freedom.
Turkey is the biggest jailer of journalists in the world. The most recent figures documented by SCF show that 236 journalists and media workers were in jail as of Sept. 13, 2018, most in pretrial detention. Of those in prison 168 were under arrest pending trial while only 68 journalists have been convicted and are serving their time. Detention warrants are outstanding for 147 journalists who are living in exile or remain at large in Turkey.
Detaining tens of thousands of people over alleged links to the Gülen movement, the government also closed down some 200 media outlets, including Kurdish news agencies and newspapers, after the coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016. (SCF with turkishminute.com)