Court sentences daily Cumhuriyet journalist Oğuz Güven to three years in jail on terror charges
Online editor-in-chief of daily Cumhuriyet Oğuz Güven has received a three year and one month prison sentence on two separate terror charges, an Istanbul court ruled on Nov. 21.
Back in May, an Istanbul court ordered Güven’s arrest after he shared a tweet on the daily’s Twitter account regarding the death of Denizli Chief Public Prosecutor Mustafa Alper, who was killed in a car accident in the southwestern province of Denizli. He was freed on June 14 but the prosecutor had sought up to 12 years in jail for him.
During the third hearing of the case at the Istanbul 28th High Criminal Court, Güven was found guilty of having ties with the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ) and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
In his plea, Güven reportedly stated that the prosecutor in the case interpreted reports regarding the death of Alper as his own crime in the dictum.
“All I am guilty for is a word that had been written by mistake. This word was deleted 52 seconds after it was posted. They couldn’t incriminate me by trying to guess my intent so they have directed a PKK accusation against me and they are trying to incriminate me for the news reports I publish on the [Cumhuriyet] website. Our job as a journalist is to report news and share it,” Güven said, demanding his acquittal.
His lawyer, Tora Pekin, also demanded the journalist’s acquittal, claiming that even the filing of such a case violated freedom of expression.
However, the court board ordered Güven’s arrest on charges of “engaging with the FETÖ/PYD [Parallel State Structure] armed terror organization,” sentencing him to one year and ten months in prison and another one year and two months for “publishing statements that legitimize the PKK/KCK [Kurdistan Communities Union] terror organization’s violent methods or encourage applying those methods.”
Speaking to reporters after the ruling, Güven once again dismissed the accusations, saying they were a sign of the times for Turkey in terms of press freedom and the judiciary.
“The decision reveals the current situation in Turkey. I described it as funny and laughed when I was arrested. Once again I will have to smile painfully,” Güven said.
“For me the decision indicates a complete absence of the rule of law in Turkey. There is nothing more to say,” he added.
Sibel Güneş from the Turkish Journalists Association (TGC) has noted that 150 journalists are currently jailed in Turkey, and demands freedom for them to practice their profession.
Meanwhile, the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Barış Yarkadaş has stressed that the tweet shared from the Cumhuriyet account was deleted within 52 seconds.
“This case, which has gone down in press history as a 52-second case, was unfortunately concluded in a tragicomic way. I switched on my stopwatch as the head of the 28th High Criminal Court handed the ruling. The judge read out the ruling within a total of 52 seconds. Essentially, justice was torn down in 52 seconds at the 28th High Criminal Court,” Yarkadaş said.