A court in Ankara has sentenced eight journalists from the news agencies MA and JinNews to over six years in prison each for alleged PKK membership.

Eight Kurdish journalists have been sentenced in Ankara to six years and three months in prison each for membership of an illegal organisation, while three others were acquitted. The convicted are employees of the Mezopotamya Agency (MA) agency and the women’s news agency JinNews: MA editor-in-chief Diren Yurtsever, MA correspondents Berivan Altan, Selman Güzelyüz, Hakan Yalçın, Emrullah Acar, Zemo Ağgöz and Deniz Nazlım as well as JinNews employee Öznur Değer. They are accused of being members of the PKK due to their journalistic activities. Habibe Eren, Ceylan Şahinli and Mehmet Günhan, on the other hand, were acquitted.

A total of twelve media professionals from the free Kurdish press were initially charged in the trial. Eleven of them were detained in October 2022 and nine were remanded in custody for seven months. The Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office based the charges on statements by anonymous witnesses, while confiscated storage media and wiretap logs were presented as further “evidence”.

Lawyer Resul Temur described the proceedings as a “censorship trial”, stating that the case is exemplary for the treatment of media in Turkey that do not bow to the raison d’état and refuse to be vicarious agents of the rulers’ policies. “These journalists are in the dock because they have dedicated themselves to the path of truth and also scrutinise the state from time to time. The Kurdish media have shown this courage for four decades. This is precisely why they belong to the school of the free press,” said Temur at the start of the trial in May 2023.

The defence lawyer emphasised that the prerequisite for initiating a preliminary investigation was an initial suspicion, which in this case obviously did not exist, nor did any tangible evidence. Temur suspects that the “statements” of the anonymous “witness” were only fabricated and constructed in order to bring about a predetermined guilty verdict for the wrongly accused media professionals. He said that the indictment is essentially due to the fact that the police and the public prosecutor’s office took offence at critical articles.


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