Turkish journalist jailed for a fifth time

Turkish journalist Barış Pehlivan, who was ordered to return to prison by text message this month, was jailed on Tuesday for the fifth time in three years, Agence France-Presse reported.

The justice ministry informed him on Aug. 2 by SMS that he had to surrender himself by Aug. 15 to the prison in Silivi on the outskirts of İstanbul, where many government critics are held.

Pehlivan’s latest book, “SS,” accuses former interior minister Süleyman Soylu of links to organized crime.

“Barış might be released on parole,” his lawyer Hüseyin Ersöz told AFP. “A decision could be made at any time,” he said.

A former editor in chief at Oda TV and contributor to the Cumhuriyet newspaper, Pehlivan has already been imprisoned four times.

Two of those incidents involved him spending a day behind bars — once in February and once in May.

Pehlivan and six other journalists were sentenced to three years, nine months in prison in 2020 for reporting on the funeral of a member of Turkey’s MIT intel agency who was operating in Libya, where Ankara supports the UN-recognized Tripoli government.

While his death has never been denied by the Turkish authorities, the reporters were charged with revealing “state secrets.”

Pehlivan was recalled this time to serve eight months of the 2020 sentence for violating the country’s national intelligence laws.

“People go to jail [in Turkey] just for writing the truth, just for doing journalism,” Pehlivan said before being sent to prison.

“Mine is a drop in this ocean, in this big fight,” he said.

Press freedom advocates last week condemned the “judicial harassment” of the journalist and urged the Turkish government to respect media freedom.

Erol Önderoğlu of Reporters Without Borders said Pehlivan was the 13th journalist to be jailed this year.

“Arresting a reporter is an anachronistic attack on public opinion,” he commented on Twitter, recently rebranded as X.

Turkey is ranked 165th out of 180 countries in the RSF’s latest press freedom index.

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