Turkey Court Convicts Journalist for Membership of Terror Group
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during an Oct. 26 news conference in Ankara, Turkey. (Turkish Presidency via AP, Pool)

DIYARBAKIR, Turkey (AFP) — A Turkish court on Monday sentenced a journalist to more than six years in jail for “membership of a terror group,” a judicial source said. 

Aysegul Dogan, who was program coordinator at the now-shut IMC TV, was convicted in the Kurdish-majority city of Diyarbakir in the southeast over her contacts with the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Congress (DTK). 

The group is accused of links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Turkey and its Western allies designate the PKK a terror group. It has waged an insurgency against the state since 1984 in which tens of thousands of people have been killed.

The court sentenced Dogan to six years and three months in jail. A lawyer for the journalist told AFP that they would appeal the verdict. 

Dozens of journalists have been jailed after the failed July 2016 coup aimed at unseating President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and blamed by Ankara on U.S.-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen.

Critical media outlets have been shut down by the authorities including prominent pro-Kurdish television channel IMC TV in the wake of the coup bid. 

The latest court rule sparked criticism among rights advocates. 

Turkish media rights group P24 tweeted the conviction with the hashtag in English, #JournalismIsNotACrime.

Turkey is considered one of the world’s leading jailer of journalists, and is ranked 154 out of 180 countries on a Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.

Separately Monday, Istanbul’s main court in Caglayan ordered the release of two Russian journalists who were accused of filming near a facility manufacturing drones without authorization.

Police in Istanbul had arrested journalist Alexei Petrushko and cameraman Ivan Malyshkin from Kremlin-friendly NTV channel on Thursday morning.

The next day, a Turkish foreign ministry source said the pair had been filming near a facility for manufacturing drones and were working without accreditation.

Russian President ’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov issued a statement preceding the court’s order, saying the Kremlin hoped the journalists would be released as soon as possible. 

AFP says a Turkish official confirmed news that the pair had been released but did not provide any details. 

© Agence France-Presse

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