Turkey jails journalists for ‘exposing state secrets’

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Turkey jails journalists for ‘exposing state secrets’ – Four Turkish journalists were sentenced to prison on Friday charged with allegedly exposing state secrets, authorities stated.

The journalists worked with Taraf, a liberal daily newspaper that was forced to shut down in 2016 as part of the Turkish government’s crackdown on media after the failed coup.

Turkey claimed the paper is allegedly linked to the coup plotters’ Gülen movement.

Editor-in-Chief Ahmet Altan and editors Yasemin Çongar and Yıldıray Oğur were each convicted of illegally acquiring state secrets and were sentenced to three years and four months each in prison.

Meanwhile, Mehmet Baransu, a reporter and columnist, was sentenced to 13 years in prison: six years for acquiring secret information and seven for “exposing secret information.”

The Committee to Protect Journalists condemned the sentence, urging the Turkish authorities to drop all charges against the former Taraf journalists and free Baransu immediately.

“Turkish authorities’ recent convictions of four journalists from the shuttered newspaper Taraf show that the government will stop at nothing to punish adversarial members of the press — even for stories they did not write,” said Gulnoza Said, CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator in New York.

“Authorities should drop this weak case immediately, not contest the journalists’ appeals, and release Mehmet Baransu from custody.”

Reports indicated that the court also ordered each defendant to pay 10,250 Turkish lira ($715), to be divided among five former military officials who were complainants in the trial.

The charges in question stem from the 2010 reporting by Taraf on documents that were leaked to Baransu and that allegedly included information on a plan for the military overthrow of the ruling Justice and Development Party.

According to the 2021 World Press Freedom Index, Turkey ranked 153 out of 180 countries in terms of freedom of the press. Even if Turkey is no longer the world’s biggest jailer of journalists, the risk of imprisonment and the fear of being subjected to judicial control is ever-present.


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