Turkish gov’t sentences four journalists up to 9 years in prison

Journalist Aytekin Gezici

A Turkish court in Adana province has handed down prison sentences varying from 7 years, 6 months to 9 years to four journalists on charges of membership in the Gülen movement, reported by Hürriyet daily.

During the fourth hearing of the trial at the Adana 4th High Criminal Court, journalists Mustafa Naim Yalçınel, Aytekin Gezici and Yüksel Evsen were were sentenced to 9 years each, while Abdullah Özyurt received a sentence of 7 years, 6 months.

Adana-based journalists Gezici and Özyurt were arrested on July 25, 2016 as part of an investigation into the Gülen movement.

An İstanbul court on Monday evening ruled for continuation of imprisonment of İdris Sayılğan, a former reporter for now-closed pro-Kurdish Dicle Haber Ajansı (DİHA), the Evrensel daily reported. According to the daily, in the second hearing in Muş province, the reporter was accused of having “membership in a terrorist organisation” and “disseminating terrorist propaganda on behalf of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the DHKP/C.”

“Every single media report I have ever produced, has been included in the indictment as an evidence. But, this is called journalism and this profession gives me a right to report about anything I want. I will continue to defend the principles of this valuable profession,” Sayılğan reportedly said during the hearing.

DİHA is among 184 news outlets the government closed in the aftermath of the July 15, 2016 coup attempt.

Turkey is the biggest jailer of journalists in the world. The most recent figures documented by the SCF has showed that 241 journalists and media workers are in jails as of February 16, 2018, most in pre-trial detention languishing in notorious Turkish prisons without even a conviction. Of those in Turkish prisons, 208 are arrested pending trial, only 33 journalists remain convicted and serving time in Turkish prisons. An outstanding detention warrants remain for 140 journalists who live 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 more than 180 media outlets after the controversial coup attempt. (SCF with turkeypurge.com)

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