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Prosecutor seeks 15 years for journalist Güven over one tweet

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An İstanbul prosecutor has demanded a 15-year sentence for Cumhuriyet daily website editor Oğuz Güven, who was jailed between May 15 and June 14 for allegedly disseminating the propaganda of a “terrorist organization,” DHA reported on Tuesday.

According to the report, during the second trial hearing prosecutor Orhan Uzun argued for a prison sentence of between two years, nine months and 12 years, nine months for a tweet that appeared on the newspaper’s Twitter account for 55 seconds concerning the death of Denizli Chief Public Prosecutor Mustafa Alper in an accident in Turkey’s western province of Denizli, accusing Güven of “disseminating the propaganda” of the faith-based Gülen movement.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) accuse the Gülen movement of masterminding a failed coup on July 15, 2016. The movement strongly denies any connection to the coup attempt.

The critical Cumhuriyet daily has long been a target for Erdoğan and the government.

An İstanbul court on Sept. 25 ruled for the release of Cumhuriyet daily journalist Kadri Gürsel and for the continuation of pretrial detention for four other journalists.

The trial was adjourned until Oct. 31.

The charges brought against 17 Cumhuriyet employees in an April indictment accuse them of aiding the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C) and the Gülen movement.

Earlier in July, the court released Güray Öz, Musa Kart, Bülent Utku, Hakan Kara, Önder Çelik, Turhan Günay and Mustafa Kemal Güngör and continued the pretrial detention of Akın Atalay, Murat Sabuncu, Kadri Gürsel, Ahmet Şık and Emre İper.

Arrest warrants for Cumhuriyet’s former Editor-in-Chief Can Dündar and US-based journalist İlhan Tanır are still outstanding.

The suspects were arrested by the İstanbul 9th Penal Court of Peace on Nov. 5, 2016. Atalay was detained at İstanbul Atatürk Airport upon his return from Germany and subsequently arrested on Nov. 12, 2016.

Cumhuriyet reporter Şık was also detained on Dec. 22 and arrested on Dec. 30, 2016 on charges of disseminating terrorist propaganda.

Dündar earlier moved to Germany after President Erdoğan personally targeted him for a sensational report in Cumhuriyet about alleged illegal arms deliveries by Turkey to opposition groups in Syria.

Turkey was ranked 155th among 180 countries in the 2017 World Press Freedom Index released by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) on April 26.

The US-based Freedom House, an independent watchdog organization dedicated to the expansion of freedom around the world, named Turkey as among the countries that have a “not free” press, in a report released on April 28.

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