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Punishments for members of media watchdog

The Istanbul 22nd High Criminal Court handed over deferred prison sentences and fines to journalists involved in the Editorship Watchdog campaign at an Istanbul-based newspaper.

On March 7, the court ruled on the punishment of journalists Nadire Mater, Yıldırım Türker and Hasan Cemal, who were involved in the Editorship Watchdog campaign that called attention to the oppression faced by Özgür Gündem, a newspaper that attracts a large Kurdish readership.

Nadine Mater said that the case had to be dropped at her court proceeding earlier today. Mater’s attorney, Meriç Eyüboğlu underlined the violations of principles that are upheld by the European Court of Human Rights and the Constitutional Court such as the freedom of expression. He continued by saying, “We are not confronted with legal proceedings, but by opinions that are just cut, copied, and pasted.” He continued by saying, “that situation brought about by this lawsuit show the struggle of what the Kurdish media has had to go. And for that, I thank you.”

The committee who decided on the case gave Mater to a deferred prison sentence of one year and three months for promoting terrorist propaganda and imposed a fine of 6,000 TL for publishing and spreading statements made by terrorist organizations.

No language obligation to prioritize the state

Journalist Yıldırım Türker’s lawyer, Emel Ataktürk, said the following of his case, “The press is under no obligation to use language that prioritizes the state. The press decides on its own interpretation of principles in the framework determined by national law. The public authorities are uncomfortable in using terminology such as ‘guerilla’ or using the real names of terrorist groups, although this is how it’s done in the realm of international media. This cannot be interpreted as [the journalists] committing acts of violence.”

According to the court’s decision, Türker received a deferred prison sentence of 1 year, 10 months, and 15 days.

Cemal: Journalism is not a crime

The court continued with the trial of journalist Hasan Cemal, who said in his defense, “I am here to defend the free and independent media. I am here to argue that journalism is not a crime while advocating for the independence and freedom of the media. I am here to emphasize that Turkish journalists cannot be free to operate in an environment where Kurdish journalists are not free. In a show of solidarity with my Kurdish colleagues, I worked on the Editorship campaign for one day at Özgür Gündem. I reiterate that defending free and independent media is defending democracy and peace.”

The court fined Cemal 6,000 TL for publishing and spreading the propaganda of terrorist organizations.

Translated by Abidin Mutlu

Edited by Leyla Amur Magdalena

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