Turkey sentences Wall Street Journal reporter on 'terror' charge

Turkey sentences Wall Street Journal reporter on 'terror' charge
A row between Ankara-Washington has escalated further after Turkey sentenced a reporter from a major US publication on a terror-related charge.
2 min read
11 October, 2017
Turkey has jailed scores of journalists following last year's failed coup [Anadolu]

A Turkish court has sentenced a Wall Street Journal reporter to over two years in prison on terrorism charges, the US newspaper said in a statement on Tuesday.

The charge levelled against Ayla Albayrak, who was in New York at the time of her sentencing, relates to an article she wrote about Turkey's war on Kurdish militants two years ago.

Turkey views the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), who Albayrak was reporting on, as a terrorist organisation and closely monitors coverage of the group.

"The sole purpose of the article was to provide objective and independent reporting on events in Turkey, and it succeeded," said the Journal's editor-in-chief, Gerard Baker.

"This was an unfounded criminal charge and wildly inappropriate conviction that wrongly singled out a balanced Wall Street Journal report."

Albayrak - a dual Finnish and Turkish citizen - plans to appeal the decision, which is viewed as the latest move by Turkish authorities to clampdown on freedom of press.

Turkey has jailed scores of journalists in a crackdown on dissent that intensified following last year's failed coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

"Given the current climate in Turkey, this appalling decision shouldn’t have come as a surprise to me, but it did," the statement quoted Albayrak as saying.

The verdict, she added, "shows yet again, that the international media is not immune to the ongoing press crackdown in Turkey."

It comes as Ankara and Washington are locked in a dispute over Turkey's recent detention of a US consulate employee in Istanbul.

The employee, Metin Topuz, has been accused by Turkish authorities of espionage.

The US retaliated to Topuz's detention when the US embassy in Ankara suspended the issuing of non-immigrant visas at its missions in Turkey.

Turkey swiftly reciprocated with a similar visa suspension and said it no longer recognises the US ambassador as Washington's representative in the country.

Speaking on Tuesday, President Erdogan showed no sign of budging from his stance, saying that "the offender in this problem is the United States of America itself", according to the Anadolu news agency.