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Turkish translator indicted over translations of English-language news sources

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The İstanbul 35th High Criminal Court on Wednesday accepted an indictment charging Turkish translator Sebla Küçük with disseminating “terrorist propaganda” in three of her tweets, which were translations of news bites from English-language media sources on Turkey’s Afrin offensive in northern Syria earlier this year.

“One of them is a translation of a Reuters news story, the other is from a journalist. In the third tweet, there is a mention of the [Kurdistan Workers’ Party] PKK, but it’s again a Reuters breaking news story,” Küçük said, according to the Diken news website.

“In two of the tweets, the names of neither the PKK nor the YPG [Kurdish militants in Syria] were mentioned. It only says, ‘National Defense Forces backing the Syrian government’,” she added.

Küçük became a phenomenon on Twitter with her translations of the tweets and news bites of American journalists who had followed the trial of former Halkbank executive Hakan Atilla, convicted by a New York federal court of conspiring to violate US sanctions on Iran and sentenced to 32 months in prison.

“Obviously [the prosecutor] was troubled by my translations concerning the Hakan Atilla trial, but since they couldn’t find anything about them, they filed a case with baseless evidence,” Küçük said.

The first hearing in her trial will be held on Nov. 22.

Adam Klasfeld, one of the American journalists who followed the Hakan Atilla trial, reported on Küçük’s case from his Twitter feed.

“[President Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan has proven himself repeatedly as not only an enemy of a free press, but a foe of freedom of speech, thought and conscience,” Klasfeld wrote.

“Hello. I’m a translator and on trial,” Küçük tweeted on Wednesday.

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