Turkish journalist Emeç sentenced to prison for reporting death of Kurdish man during police raid

Hülya Emeç, a Turkish journalist and member of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), was sentenced by a Turkish court on Monday to six months in prison for reporting on the death of a Kurdish man after a succession of police raids on his home in Van province in 2014.

Emeç, a correspondent for the now-closed pro-Kurdish DİHA news agency, reported that a 48-year-old Kurdish man named Şefik Tunuç died of a heart attack after his house in Van was raided by Turkish police three times in a week.

Emeç was handed down a prison sentence on charges related to Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK), which criminalizes denigration of the Turkish nation, the Turkish state, the Turkish Parliament, the government of the Republic of Turkey or the legal institutions of the state.

The Turkish court ruled that the journalist committed the crime of “insulting Turkey’s Law Enforcement Agency” in the headline of the story about the death of Tunuç.

According to the DokuzSekiz news website, Emeç recently applied for asylum in Switzerland. She was, however, sent back to Brazil when she arrived in Zurich as Swiss authorities consider Brazil a safe country for journalists. Emeç stated that she had been harassed in Brazil and feels traumatized after having been imprisoned in Turkey.

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 237 journalists and media workers were in jail as of August 6, 2018, most in pretrial detention. Of those in prison 170 were under arrest pending trial while only 67 journalists have been convicted and are serving their time. Detention warrants are outstanding for 144 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 a coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016. (SCF with turkeypurge.com)

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