Journalist faces 2 years in prison on charges of insulting Turkish Parliament

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Anti-government journalist Yılmaz Özdil from the Sözcü daily has been indicted on charges of insulting the Turkish Parliament because he used lowercase letters in his abbreviation of parliament’s name in one of his articles, Sözcü reported on Thursday.

The journalist faces a prison sentence of two years in line with Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) as a result of a criminal complaint filed by the Turkish Parliament.

In one of his columns last July, Özdil wrote about acts of corruption taking place in the Turkish Parliament (Türkiye Büyük Millet Meclisi) and used the abbreviation “Tbmm” instead of “TBMM” to refer to parliament.

The prosecutors also seek to deprive the journalist of his right to vote and stand for election.

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). RSF describes Turkey as “the world’s biggest jailer of professional journalists.”

Government pressure on independent journalists and news outlets in Turkey increased in the aftermath of a failed coup in July 2016 following which the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government launched a massive crackdown on non-loyalist citizens under the pretext of an anti-coup fight.

According to the Stockholm Center for Freedom’s “Jailed and Wanted Journalists in Turkey” database, 175 Turkish journalists are behind bars and 167 are wanted and either in exile or at large.

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