92 journalists prosecuted in Turkey amid coronavirus measures: report

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A journalist holds a placard reading "free media" during a demonstration for the World Press Freedom Day on the Istiklal avenue, in Istanbul, on May 3, 2017. According to the P24 press freedom website on April 4, 2017, there are 141 journalists behind bars in Turkey, most of whom were detained as part of the state of emergency imposed after the failed coup. / AFP PHOTO / OZAN KOSE

Despite the coronavirus measures in effect in Turkey between March 17 and June 15, 92 journalists were prosecuted in 59 trials in nine provinces, according to a report drafted by the Press in Arrest platform, the Bianet news website reported on Monday.

The “June 2020 Press Freedom Report” said the journalists face five aggravated life sentences, one life sentence and between 587 and 1,513 years in prison.

Sixty-one journalists were summoned to testify, taken into custody or faced a criminal investigation in the same period. Lawsuits were filed against 18 journalists.

After being imprisoned for four months due to their news stories on the funeral of a National Intelligence Organization (MİT) officer killed during Turkey’s operations in Libya, Oda TV Managing Editor Barış Terkoğlu, Oda TV Editor-in-Chief Barış Pehlivan, reporter Hülya Kılınç, Yeni Yaşam newspaper’s Editor-in-Chief Ferhat Çelik, Yeni Yaşam Managing Editor Aydın Keser and Yeniçağ columnist Murat Ağırel appeared before a judge for the first time.

Journalists Terkoğlu, Keser and Çelik were released at the first hearing on June 24, while the court ordered a continuation of the detention of the remaining three journalists.

Oda TV’s Ankara News Manager Müyesser Yıldız was taken into custody on charges of “espionage” for a news story she did not write and was arrested after being held in detention for three days.

Press in Arrest, founded in April 2019, has been documenting all legal proceedings targeting Turkish and Kurdish journalists.

Turkey is ranked 154th out of 180 countries in the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) 2020 World Press Freedom Index, up from 157th last year.

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