Turkish journalist gets 6 years for attending Kurdish political movement meetings

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A journalist for the now-closed IMC TV has been given a prison sentence of six years, three months on terrorism charges for attending meetings of the Democratic Society Congress (DTK) and conducting interviews with DTK members.

Turkey considers the DTK, the umbrella group of the Kurdish political movement, a “terrorist organization” and the legislative branch of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the EU and the United States.

The latest hearing in the trial of Ayşegül Doğan, who was the program coordinator for IMC TV, was held at the Diyarbakır 9th High Criminal Court on Monday. Doğan was unable to attend because she had been in contact with a coronavirus-infected person. However, the court decided to go ahead with the hearing despite Doğan’s absence on the grounds that she did not provide a medical report.

The prison sentence was handed down to Doğan for attending DTK meetings and conducting interviews with DTK officials on charges of establishing and running a terrorist organization.

Doğan’s lawyers claimed the evidence presented in court was collected illegally and that Doğan attended the DTK meetings as a journalist.

Journalistic activities have more frequently been regarded in Turkey as criminal acts or terrorism particularly after a military coup attempt in Turkey in July 2016. Following the failed putsch, dozens of critical journalists were arrested, while hundreds of media outlets were closed down as part of a government-led post-coup crackdown. IMC TV was among the media outlets that were shuttered by the Turkish government following the coup attempt.

One of the leading jailers of journalists in the world, Turkey was ranked 154th out of 180 countries in the 2020 World Press Freedom Index published by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) in April.

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