First Published: 2017-11-21

Turkish opposition daily web editor sentenced to 3 years in jail
Oguz Guven, editor of online version of secular Cumhuriyet daily, found guilty of disseminating "terror" propaganda for outlawed groups.
Middle East Online

Arrests of media figures have sparked concerns about civil rights in Turkey.

ISTANBUL - A Turkish court sentenced the online editor of Turkey's main opposition daily to three years and one month in jail on terror charges, reports said on Tuesday.

Oguz Guven, editor of the online version of the secular Cumhuriyet ("Republic") daily, was found guilty by an Istanbul court of disseminating "terror" propaganda for outlawed groups, the state-run Anadolu news agency said.

These included the group of US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen who Ankara accuses of being behind last year's failed coup bid and leading the so-called Fethullah Terror Group (FETO). Gulen denies the charges.

Meanwhile, Dogan news agency said the second charge referred to his alleged support of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which is blacklisted as a terror group by Turkey and its Western allies.

Guven was given one year 10 months and 15 days for the first charge and one year two months and 17 days for the second charge, the agency reported.

However, he was able to walk free pending appeal and spoke to supporters outside the courthouse. Guven had been imprisoned for a month this year in April after his arrest but had then been released.

Guven was being tried over a tweet about the death of a public prosecutor in the southwestern city of Denizli who had helped oversee the purges launched after the coup attempt.

The tweet read "First prosecutor to prepare a FETO indictment mown down by a truck" but was deleted and replaced with another shortly after.

He was also tried over the website's coverage of the PKK, the Dogan agency said.

The daily has itself been targeted in a hugely controversial case seen as a test for press freedom under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

A total of 17 current and former writers, cartoonists and executives from Cumhuriyet are accused of supporting terror groups, charges the defence claim are absurd.

Four of the suspects remain in jail including the paper's chairman Akin Atalay, editor-in-chief Murat Sabuncu and investigative reporter Ahmet Sik.

The 17 are charged with supporting through their coverage three groups Turkey views as terror groups -- the PKK, the ultra-left Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C) and the Gulen movement.

They risk up to 43 years in prison if convicted.

According to the media watchdog P24 website, 170 journalists have been detained in Turkey. The country ranks 155 out of 180 on the latest world press freedom index by Reporters Without Borders (RSF).


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