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Iran Press TV

Turkish court sentences opposition journalist to over 2 years in prison

Iran Press TV

Thu Jul 19, 2018 02:53PM

A court in Turkey has sentenced a journalist of the center-left and opposition daily newspaper Cumhuriyet to more than two years in prison on charges of purportedly making people potential targets for militant outfits through her reporting.

On Thursday, the court sentenced legal affairs reporter Canan Coskun to two years and three months in jail, after it found her guilty of making "people involved in the fight against terrorism a target," the paper said.

The case was triggered last September when Coskun, who covered Istanbul's courts for Cumhuriyet, wrote an article about prosecutors' questioning of detained attorneys for two hunger-striking teachers purportedly linked to the leftist Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C) militant group. The outfit has been designated a terrorist group by the Turkish government.

Sezgin Tanrikulu, a lawyer from Turkey's main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), protested at the court that the naming of a prosecutor in that article did not amount to making the person a potential target and rejected the charges against Coskun.

"Another punishment for press freedom," Tanrikulu wrote on Twitter, adding, "Writing a story and being a journalist is sufficient for a court to take a 'negative view'."

Following the hearing, Coskun described the ruling as an example of "injustice," adding that the sentence she received was not the first punishment for journalism. "As I said earlier, I did journalism and I will continue to do it," she further said.

Early this week, a court in Istanbul acquitted Erdem Gul, another journalist from the same paper, two years after a criminal court had convicted him of espionage in a case about revealing state secrets by publishing footage of a video showing weapons shipment to pockets of Syria held by foreign-backed terrorists.

In April, a court sentenced 14 staff of Cumhuriyet - one of the few remaining voices critical of the government - to prison on charges of terrorism and supporting the US-based opposition cleric Fethullah Gulen, accused by Ankara of having orchestrated a coup attempt in mid-July 2016.

Since then more than 120 journalists have been arrested and more than 180 media outlets shut down on suspicion of having connections with Gulen's transnational religious and social movement, known as Gulen Hareketi. Ankara has branded the movement as the Fethullah Terrorist Organization (FETO).

Human rights organizations have voiced growing concern about media freedom in the Anatolian country, where President Recep Tayyip Erdogan won snap elections in June, expediting a transition to a much more powerful executive presidency.

Tens of thousands of people have been arrested in Turkey on suspicion of having links to Gulen and the failed coup. More than 140,000 others, including military staff, civil servants and journalists have been sacked or suspended from work over the same accusations.

Ankara has already called on the US to extradite Gulen, who has flatly rejected Ankara's allegations, but the demand has not been taken heed of yet.

The international community and rights groups have been highly critical of the Turkish president over the massive dismissals and the crackdown.

Critics say the Turkish government has used the coup attempt to crack down on all dissent, in which opposition lawmakers, journalists, and political activists have been put behind bars.

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