PRO-KURDISH REPORTER SENTENCED TO JAIL IN TURKEY
March 14, 2013
NEW YORK–The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) condemned the jail
sentence handed to a journalist in Turkey and called on authorities
to overturn the ruling on appeal, in a statement issued on March 13.
CPJ condemned the jail sentence handed to a journalist in Turkey and
called on authorities to overturn the ruling on appeal.
A regional court in eastern Van province sentenced Murat Aydin,
a reporter for the pro-Kurdish Dicle News Agency, or DÄ°HA, to six
years and three months in jail on charges of alleged membership in the
banned Kurdistan Worker’s Party, or PKK, local press reported. Aydin
denied the accusations and said he was being prosecuted in connection
with his work. His lawyer, Halil Kartal, told CPJ that he would be
appealing the verdict and that Aydin would not be jailed until the
Supreme Court of Appeals had reviewed the case.
Kartal told CPJ that prosecutors cited AydÄ±n’s professional activities
as evidence, including the journalist’s phone conversations with
DÄ°HA and other news outlets. In one, Kartal said, the reporter had
relayed a statement from the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party,
which holds 36 seats in Turkey’s parliament, to the pro-PKK satellite
station Roj TV.
“Turkey has the opportunity at this very important political juncture
to do right by all its journalists,” CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney
said. “The appeals court should overturn the politicized verdict
against Murat AydÄ±n. Reporting on Kurdish affairs is not a crime. We
urge Turkish authorities to uphold the democratic values they espouse
by releasing all jailed journalists and allowing the media to perform
their vital role of informing the public without fear of reprisal.”
AydÄ±n was arrested in October 2011 and held in Bayburt M Type Prison
until he was released in September 2012 after his first court hearing.
Kartal told CPJ that AydÄ±n was abused by police during his arrest
and detention. AydÄ±n said that authorities had focused exclusively
on his journalism during the interrogations, according to an open
letter he wrote that was published by the independent news portal
Bianet while he was in jail.
Turkey is the world’s worst jailer of journalists, according to CPJ
research. At least 49 journalists were behind bars when CPJ conducted
its worldwide prison census on Dec. 1, 2012.