Turkey jails Cumhuriyet journalist under anti-terror law

Turkey jails Cumhuriyet journalist under anti-terror law
Turkey's crackdown on press freedom continues a day after lifting a two-year long state of emergency.
2 min read
19 July, 2018
Turkey is ranked "the world's biggest jailer of journalists" [Getty]
A journalist at the Turkish opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet has been sentenced to more than two years behind bars on charges of making people potenital targets for militant groups through her reporting, the paper said.

Canan Coskun wrote last September about prosecutors' questioning of detained lawyers for two hunger-striking teachers allegedly linked to the leftist DHKP-C militant group, designated a terrorist group by Turkey.

Handing down a sentence of two years and three months, the court found that Coskun, who covered Istanbul courts for the paper, made "people involved in the fight against terrorism a target", Cumhuriyet said.

Coskun's lawyer argued the naming of a prosecutor in the article did not amount to making that person a target and denied the charges against her, rights group Amnesty International reported on Twitter.

Human rights organisations have long voiced concern about increasing restrictions on media in Turkey, where President Tayyip Erdogan won elections last month triggering a move to a powerful executive presidency. Cumhuriyet is one of the few remaining voices critical of the government. 

"Another punishment for press freedom," main opposition party lawmaker Sezgin Tanrikulu, who attended the hearing, wrote on Twitter. "Writing a story and being a journalist is sufficient for a court to take a 'negative view'."

In April, a court sentenced 14 staff of Cumhuriyet to jail on charges of terrorism and supporting Fethullah Gulen, a US based cleric Ankara says orchestrated an attempted coup in July 2016.

Since then more than 120 journalists have been detained and more than 180 media outlets closed on suspicion of links to Gulen's network.

Turkey was ranked "the world's biggest jailer of journalists" in a Press Freedom report by Reporters Without Borders, dropping down two places to 157 out of 180 countries. 

The free speech advocates estimated about 90 percent of Turkey's newspaper coverage is pro-government.

Turkey's seven-time exteneded state of emergency, which allowed a far-reaching crackdown on suspected Gulenists and Kurdish activists, expired on Wednesday at midnight. 

However, opposition figures fear the government will replace it with repressive measures, pointing to potential new legislation that seeks to formalise some of the harshest aspects of the emergency.