Turkey: anti-ErdoÄan journalists defiant after convictions on terror charges
Turkey Turkey: anti-ErdoÄan journalists defiant after convictions on terror charges
Thirteen reporters, editors and executives from opposition Cumhuriyet daily face jail but vow to continue âto tell the truthâ
A Turkish court has convicted journalists from the opposition Cumhuriyet daily for helping outlawed âterroristâ organisations â" but editors vowed their âhonourableâ jou rnalism would not stop.
The paper has been fiercely critical of president Recep Tayyip ErdoÄan and has run front-page stories that have angered the Turkish head of state.
The court in Silivri, outside Istanbul, handed out multiple sentences to 13 journalists and executives for âaiding and abetting terror organisations without being a memberâ but they remain free pending appeal.The Guardian view on Turkish press freedom: standing up for democracy | Editorial Read more
âNo penalty can stop us from doing journalism. If needed, we will go to prison again but we will continue to do honest and honourable journalism,â editor-in-chief Murat Sabuncu said after being sentenced to seven years and six months.
Sabuncu said the punishment was not only given to him âbut to Turkey and to press freedom in Turkeyâ as authorities sought to deter others from real journalism.
However, he added: âIt is the sword of Damocles. Do not be scar ed. Keep on doing journalism. Letâs keep on doing journalism together.â
The journalists were all charged with supporting, through their coverage, three organisations that Turkey views as terror groups â" the Kurdistan Workersâ party, the ultra-left Revolutionary Peopleâs Liberation Party-Front, and the Gulen movement blamed for the 2016 failed coup.
Among others convicted were some of the biggest names in Turkish journalism, including investigative reporter Ahmet Sik who is seen as one of Turkeyâs most incisive critics of the Gulen movement.
He was given a seven-and-a-half year sentence while veteran journalist Kadri Gursel was sentenced to two years and six months. The court handed cartoonist Musa Kart a sentence of three years and nine months.
The judge ordered the release of Cumhuriyet chairman Akin Atalay who had been in jail for over 500 days despite his conviction.
Greeted by his wife Adalet and a crowd of supporters shortly after he walked free from prison, Atalay said Cumhuriyet â" which means ârepublicâ â" would not succumb to pressure or threats.Revealed: the terror and torment of Turkey's jailed journalists Read more
âAs we always say they cannot intimidate Cumhuriyet which will continue to tell the truth to its readers,â he told reporters.
Three defendants, including the paperâs books supplement editor Turhan Gunay, were acquitted.
Supporters of the accused repeatedly said the charges against the journalists were absurd and that the trial was political.
Cumhuriyet headlined its report on the convictions with a warning to the Turkish authorities: âYou will be shamed in front of history.â
Amnesty Internationalâs Turkey campaigner Milena Buyum lambasted the trial during which the prosecution âfailed to produce a shred of evidenceâ of any criminal wrongdoing.
According to the P24 press freedom group, there are over 160 journalists behind bars in Turkey, most of whom were arrested under the state of emergency imposed after the coup attempt in July 2016.Topics
- Press freedom
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