Vienna, 29 June 2017 – The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) was dismayed to learn that several new prison sentences have been approved by courts in Turkey, in cases of journalistic prosecutions.
On 22 June, a court in Istanbul held a hearing for the cases of media workers and writers Asli Erdogan (Aslı Erdoğan), Filiz Kocali (Filiz Koçali), Inan Kizilkaya (İnan Kızılkaya), Zana Kaya, Necmiye Alpay, Ragip Duran, Eren Keskin, Bilge Oykut, and Keman Sancili (Kemal Sancılı). All of them are on trial for one or several cases of alleged dissemination of terrorist propaganda, belonging to a terrorist organization and similar charges. Over 50 other media workers have been investigated and charged on several counts as well.
Since the failed coup attempt in 2016, investigations in Turkey have been launched against thousands of public servants, academic, public intellectuals, writers, journalists and others. Hundreds of local and national media outlets have been forced into closure, either through incarceration, financial fines or censorship attempts – both Turkish and Kurdish. Writers have been put in jail and sentenced for publishing work about the difficult living conditions of Kurds and Kurdish women. Attorneys have been prohibited from seeing and talking to their clients, even during hearings and trials. Many media workers are kept in detention for months on end, with no information regarding their charges or beginning of trial.
On 29 June, the Regional Gaziantep Court approved a prison sentence for Ismail Eskin. Eskin was prosecuted after being charged of allegedly “spreading terrorist propaganda” and being “a part of an illegal terrorist organization”, after he reported about multiple human rights violations committed during curfews in Amed and ISIS attacks on Kobane (Kobanê). Eskin was sentenced to three years, one month and fifteen days of imprisonment.
SEEMO is a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in South, East and Central Europe and its press freedom work is supported by the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) project, as part of a grant by the European Commission.