Turkish gov’t to sentence 24 Kurdish journalists up to 15-year jail term

Lawsuits have been filed against 24 Kurdish journalists who had been detained during a raid on August 28, 2016 on the office of Kurdish daily Azadiya Welat that was later shut down with a government decree under the rule of emergency declared in the aftermath of a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

According to a report by pro-Kurdish Fırat news agency, Diyarbakır Chief Prosecutor’s Office has prepared indictments against 24 journalists. In the indictments that have been ratified by Diyarbakır 9th and 10th High Criminal Courts, the 24 journalists are accused of “knowingly and wilfully aiding the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)” and each of them is facing 7,5 to 15-year jail term.

Hearings of the journalists will be held in February and March 2018. The journalists to stand trial are named as Ahmet Kızılay, Ahmet Boltan, Veysi Altın, Ercan Yeltaş, Mehmet Aydın, Mehmet Emin Aygün, Azime Tarhan, Süreyya Dal, Berhudan Tulpar, Mehmet Hüseyin Şahin, Cengiz Arslan, Ziyan Karahan, Ceylan İpek, Pusat Bulut, Yasemin Sayın, Serdal Polat, Zeynep İzgi, Hayat Yılmaz, Mehmet Emin Kaya, Mecrum Tekol, İbrahim Bayram, Engin Özelçi Arap Turan and Ferit Toprak.

Turkey is the biggest jailer of journalists in the world. The most recent figures documented by the SCF has showed that 255 journalists and media workers are in jails as of November 8, 2017, most in pre-trial detention languishing in notorious Turkish prisons without even a conviction. Of those in Turkish prisons, 230 are arrested pending trial, only 25 journalists remain convicted and serving time in Turkish prisons. An outstanding detention warrants remain for 135 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.

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