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Iran Press TV

Turkish court jails 4 pro-Kurdish newspaper employees over 'terrorism' charges

Iran Press TV

Monday, 15 February 2021 3:23 PM

A court in Turkey has handed down jail sentences to four employees of a now-defunct pro-Kurdish newspaper over links with a 'terrorist' organization.

Media outlets, quoting judicial sources, reported on Monday that Eren Keskin, the co-editor-in-chief, along with two other Ozgur Gundem officials, were each sentenced to six years and three months in prison.

Zana Bilir Kaya, the other co-editor-in-chief, received a term of two years and one month for spreading 'terrorism' propaganda.

Ozcan Kilic, a lawyer in the case, said the verdict was politically motivated.

"The court gave a very harsh verdict. We thought it was related to the developments in the operation in northern Iraq. Courts are influenced by conflicts," he said of the ongoing cross-border operation by Turkey's army against Kurdish militants.

The newspaper was among more than 130 media outlets the government closed during a state of emergency it declared following a coup attempt in July 2016.

Back then, two dozen Ozgur Gundem staff were detained as part of an investigation into alleged links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

The paper had focused coverage on the PKK conflict in Turkey's mainly Kurdish southeast.

Separately on Sunday, Turkish officials said PKK militants had executed over a dozen kidnapped Turks, including military and police personnel, in a cave in northern Iraq.

Turkish police on Monday detained 718 people in 40 cities over alleged links to the Kurdish militants it blames for executing the 13 people.

The Turkish Interior Ministry said heads of the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) in cities and districts were among those detained. The HDP is Turkey's second-largest opposition party.

In recent years, Ankara has jailed dozens of mayors and other officials from the HDP.

Rights advocates have criticized Ankara for suing people over expressing opinions, describing it as a means of aggressive muzzling of dissent in Turkey.

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