Turkish journalist Şirin Kabakçı remains behind bars 16 months after incarceration

An İstanbul high criminal court has ruled to continue the imprisonment of Şirin Kabakçı, who used to be Konya bureau chief for the Zaman daily, Turkey’s highest circulating newspaper before its takeover and closure by the Turkish government in 2016.

Kabakçı, who has been behind bars for 16 months, is one of the dozens of journalists who were arrested in the aftermath of a failed coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016, because they used to work for media outlets affiliated with the Gülen movement.

The Turkish government accuses the movement of masterminding the abortive coup, although the movement strongly denies any involvement.

According to tweets posted by @P24DavaTakip, which has been following the trials of journalists in Turkey, Kabakçı attended the most recent hearing of his trial at the İstanbul 35th High Criminal Court on Thursday through the IT Voice and Image System (SEGBİS) from Konya Prison, where he is being held in pretrial detention. The journalist is facing charges of terrorism.

Kabakçı’s lawyer, Cumali Aydemir, said his client was only involved in journalistic activities and that there is no witness testimony about Kabakçı’s involvement in any terrorist activity.

The lawyer asked for the release of his client.

In his defense, Kabakçı said during the time he worked in Konya he did nothing other than journalism.

“I request my release. I have been jailed for 16 months. My family lives in  Bartın [a northwestern Turkish province]. My three daughters need their father,” said the journalist.

The prosecutor in the trial asked for the continuation of Kabakçı’s imprisonment due to the lack of some files in his dossier.

The court ruled to keep Kabakçı behind bars. The next hearing in his trial is scheduled for Oct. 9, 2018.

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 15, 2018, most in pretrial detention. Of those in prison 169 were under arrest pending trial while only 68 journalists have been convicted and are serving their time. Detention warrants are outstanding for 145 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 turkishminute.com)

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