7.5 years in prison sought for 18 Turkish journalists

7.5 years in prison sought for 18 Turkish journalists

Özden Atik – ISTANBUL / Doğan News Agency
7.5 years in prison sought for 18 Turkish journalists

Can Dündar

The Istanbul Chief Prosecutor’s Office has prepared an indictment against 18 journalists who are accused of “making propaganda for a terrorist organization,” asking the court to jail them for up to 7.5 years each. 

The journalists, including daily Cumhuriyet Editor-in-Chief Can Dündar, have been charged after the investigation into the publication of photos on April 1, showing Prosecutor Mehmet Selim Kiraz’s captivity in the hands of militants.

Kiraz was killed on March 31 following an eight-hour standoff that began after Şafak Yayla and Bahtiyar Doğruyol, two members of the outlawed Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C), took him hostage in Istanbul’s Çağlayan Courthouse.

The indictment claimed that the journalists tried to portray a terrorist organization as “strong and capable enough for any action.” Dündar, on the other hand, said his newspaper “intended to portray the dark and ugly face of terrorism; not to legitimize it.”

Besides Cumhuriyet, journalists from dailies Millet, Şok, Posta, Yurt, Bugün, Özgür Gündem, Aydınlık and BirGün were described in the indictment as suspects, along with a note that they had pleaded not guilty.

In April, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had lambasted media organizations for their coverage of the hostage crisis, accusing them of treason for being the “partners of the terrorists” who were involved in the killing of the late prosecutor.

It was not the only time that journalists, particularly Dündar, have drawn the ire of the Turkish president. 

In June 2015, Erdoğan personally filed a criminal complaint against Dündar over another critical news report by Cumhuriyet, asking him to be jailed for life, hours after he said the journalist would pay a “heavy price” for printing photos of National Intelligence Organization (MİT) trucks allegedly shipping weapons and ammunition to jihadists in Syria.