Journalist sentenced to 18 months prison time in Turkey

Journalist and writer Murat Celikkan was sentence to 18 months in prison on "terrorist propaganda" charges after a one day solidarity action with Kurdish daily Ozgur Gundem.

Another journalist has been sentenced to prison time in Turkey for his support of Kurdish daily newspaper Ozgur Gundem.

Journalist and writer Murat Celikkan was sentenced to 18 months in prison on Tuesday for participating in the one-day Editors-in-Chief on Watch solidarity action last year.

The experienced journalist appeared at the Istanbul 13th Heavy Penal Court alongside academic Prof. Dr. Beyza Ustun, where both stood trial accused of “propaganda for a terrorist organisation.”

Defending himself in court, Celikkan said the government was targeting the truth and added, “During the 90s [war] Ozgur Gundem reported the truth to the people. It was only years later that people understood that this was the truth.”

Following his defence the journalist’s lawyers demanded his acquittal but Celikkan was sentenced to an 18 month jail term for propaganda on behalf of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The journalist’s sentence was not postponed on the grounds that he had not shown any remorse, but he is expected to appeal, media reported.

Academic Ustun was also sentenced to 15 months in prison but her sentence was postponed, reported Dihaber news agency.

It is not known exactly how many journalists are imprisoned in Turkey but the country has been labelled the “biggest jailer of journalists in the world” by rights groups. More than 100 journalists are thought to be behind bars on terrorism charges.

The Turkish government rejects that the journalists have been jailed due to journalistic activity, instead arguing that the incarceration is a result of its fights against forces endangering the country’s safety.

Several other journalists and writers were also arrested and imprisoned for participating in the Editors-in-Chief on Watch solidarity action, including renowned novelist Asli Erdogan.