Turkey prosecutors wants 18 journalists jailed for 'terror propaganda'

ISTANBUL, TURKEY- Turkish prosecutors on Tuesday asked for jail sentences of up to seven and a half years for 18 journalists on charges of making propaganda for a terrorist group after publishing a picture from an Istanbul hostage siege.
The journalists charged from nine different newspapers included the editor-in-chief of the pro-opposition Cumhuriyet daily Can Dundar who has repeatedly locked horns with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Others also charged include the editors of the Posta daily and the staunchly left-wing and anti-Erdogan Birgun newspaper.
Prosecutor Mehmet Selim Kiraz was held hostage by two captors linked to the Marxist Revolutionary People's Liberation Party–Front (DHKP-C) at his office at Istanbul's main Palace of Justice on March 31.
All were killed when police entered the courthouse to end the hostage taking, in circumstances that have yet to be made fully clear.
The DHKP-C had during the siege published pictures showing one of the militants -- his face concealed by a scarf with the group's red and yellow insignia -- holding a gun to the hostage's head in the prosecutor's offices.
The images were circulated on social media while the siege was going on and were published by several Turkish newspapers as well as news websites.
Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu expressed outrage at the publication of the pictures and prosecutors rapidly launched a probe into the newspapers for disseminating "terrorist propaganda".
Dundar is quoted as saying in his statement in the indictment that "as a newspaper we are against all kinds of terror organisations."
"The use of the photograph was not aimed at justifying the action of the terrorist organisation but to show the dark and the ugly face of terror," he added.
In a tweet just after the announcement, Dundar compared his case with the fact Turkish channels had readily broadcast footage of Islamic State jihadists about to execute their prisoners.
"For publishing a photo of a hostage taken by the DHKP-C you are given 7.5 years jail. For broadcasting the IS hostage-takers you go free," Dundar said.
There has been growing concern about deteriorating press freedoms on Turkey and in particular over the numbers of journalists facing legal proceedings on accusations of insulting Erdogan.
In the run-up to June 7 elections, Erdogan caused outrage by saying Dundar would "pay a heavy price" over a front-page story which it said proved Turkey had sent arms to Islamist rebels in Syria.
Along with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and IS jihadists, the DHKP-C is one of the groups targeted in the government's "war on terror" which has seen hundreds of arrests.
The DHKP-C, known until the mid 1990s as Devrimci Sol (Revolutionary Left), is a secretive group which has staged sporadic but sometimes deadly attacks in Turkey since the 1970s.

Wednesday, August 5th 2015

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