Yeni Asya journalist, cartoonist to be tried on terrorism charges

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Cartoonist İbrahim Özdabak (L) and Yeni Asya editor-in-chief Kazım Güleçyüz.

Kazım Güleçyüz, the editor-in-chief of the critical Yeni Asya daily, and the paper’s cartoonist, İbrahim Özdabak, will stand trial on terrorism charges due to their social media posts and cartoons, the Kronos news website reported on Thursday.

The two journalists were indicted by a prosecutor on charges of spreading terrorist propaganda.

The first hearing of the journalists’ trial will be held on May 2 before the İstanbul 29th High Criminal Court.

The indictment cites tweets from Güleçyüz and cartoons from Özdabak as terrorist propaganda.

In his tweets that made their way into the indictment, Güleçyüz questions the suspicious elements in a failed coup in Turkey on July 15, 2016 following which the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) launched a massive crackdown on its critics, in particular the Gülen movement.

The AKP government accuses the movement of masterminding the failed coup, although the movement strongly denies any involvement.

In one tweet, Güleçyüz says, “In a coup attempt that lasted for hours, the putschists do nothing to the pro-government TV stations and allow them to ‘heroically’ resist the coup.”

“Nobody with a conscience can accept the July 15 anti-coup fight being turned into a massacre of innocent people who had nothing to do with the coup or terrorism,” Güleçyüz says in another tweet.

The reason Özdabak angered the government with his cartoons was because he covered the tragedies that took place in the lives of ordinary people who were accused of coup involvement in the aftermath of the abortive putsch.

He drew cartoons of babies and children separated from their mothers who were jailed on coup charges as well as children who went to jail along with their mothers.

More than 17,000 women have been jailed on terrorism charges since the coup attempt in Turkey, and around 750 children are currently accompanying their mothers in prison.

In one of his cartoons, which is cited in the indictment, Özdabak depicts the tragedy of a mother who lost her twins in a prison in Sinop province where she was jailed due to alleged Gülen links.

“The pregnant woman, who is jailed, lost her twin babies. Letter from jail to heaven,” a caption on the cartoon says.

As a result of a massive crackdown launched after the coup attempt on followers of the movement under the pretext of an anti-coup fight, more than 150,000 people were removed from state jobs while in excess of 50,000 others were jailed and some 600,000 people have been investigated on allegations of terrorism.

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