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Turkey hands prison sentences to journalists



Silivri (Turkey) (AFP) – A Turkish court on Wednesday condemned journalists from the opposition daily Cumhuriyet for helping outlawed "terrorist" organizations, but the editors remained defiant and did not swear their "honorable" journalism.

Cumhuriyet – which simply means "republic" – was founded in 1924 after the founding of the Turkish Republic in 1923.

The daily sharply criticized President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and shot cover pages that angered the Turkish leader of Turkey

The court in Silivri, outside of Istanbul, condemned 13 journalists and executives for aiding and abetting terrorist organizations, without being a member, but remains free to appeal.

"No punishment can stop us From journalism If necessary, we will go back to jail, but we will continue to make journalism," said editor-in-chief Murat Sabuncu, one of the convicts who told AFP after the verdict.

The judge ordered the release of the chairman of Cumhuriyet, Akin Atalay, who spent over 500 days in prison despite his conviction.

Accompanied by his wife Adalet and a follower shortly after his release, Atalay said that Cumhuriyet would not be subjected to pressure on a daily basis

"As we always say, they can not intimidate the Cumhuriyet newspaper, which continues to tell its readers the truth say, "he told reporters.

Atalay said they were taken as "hostages" and the newspaper was claimed as a "ransom", but he added, "This newspaper can not be bought with money … our colleagues will show how to do journalism . "

Accountant Emre Iper was also convicted of separate charges of terrorist propaganda and sentenced to three years and a month.

Three others, including the editor Turhan Gunay, were acquitted.

They were all accused of supporting three organizations reporting Turkey as a terrorist atrocity The Kurdistan Workers' Party, the Revolutionary People's Liberation Party's ultra-left party, and the Gülen movement blamed the failed coup of 2016.

Proponents of the defendants repeatedly said the indictment of the journalists was absurd and the trial was political

– & # 39; heavy blow & # 39; Against the Freedom of the Press –

The convicts include some of the biggest names in Turkish journalism, including investigative reporter Ahmet Sik.

Sik is considered one of Turkey's most succinct critics of the Gülen movement and in 2011 wrote a controversial book "The Army of the Imam" that exposed the group's influence on important Turkish institutions.

He received a seven-and-a-half-year prison sentence while longtime journalist Kadri Gursel was sentenced to two years and six months.

The court handed cartoonist Musa Kart a term of three years and nine months, while Sabuncu was sentenced to seven years and six months.

Sabuncu said the punishment that emanated from the Co He was given not only to him but to Turkey and to the freedom of the press in Turkey when the authorities tried to prevent others from real journalism.

However, he struck a defiant tone, adding that Cumhuriyet continued to be honest and honorable "Journalism.

" It is the sword of Damocles. Have no fear. Continue journalism. Let's work together journalistically.

Gürsel said the verdict was "a serious blow" to press freedom.

"This means an ultimatum and a threat to people who made their determination and urge to make journalism," the commentator told AFP

– Silence Dissent –

Cumhuriyet headlined his report on the convictions with a warning to the Turkish authorities: "They will be ashamed of history."

"Today's verdict is a turning point for the history of the Press. It is the date on which journalism will be ended with the help of the judiciary, "said Sezgin Tanrikulu, Republican People's Party (CHP) representative to AFP.

Amnesty International's Milena Buyum criticized the trial, in which the prosecution" failed " a trace of evidence "of any criminal misconduct.

"These politically motivated sentences are clearly meant to frighten any form of dissent," she said in a statement.

According to the press freedom of the P24 there In Turkey over 160 journalists are behind bars, most of which were arrested after the coup attempt in July 2016 under the state of emergency.

Turkey ranked 157 out of 180 countries published in the World Press Freedom Index by reporters without a title Borders (RSF) on Wednesday, dropping two places.


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