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Journalist from Kurdish daily gets prison sentence on terrorist propaganda charges

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A journalist from a now-closed Kurdish newspaper has been handed down an 18-month prison sentence on conviction of disseminating terrorist propaganda, the Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA) reported.

The court has not suspended the sentence, according to the MLSA.

Journalist İsmail Çoban is the former managing editor of the Kurdish language Azadiya Welat newspaper, which is among the dozens of media outlets that were closed down by the government in the aftermath of a failed coup in 2016.

Çoban was handed down the prison sentence by the Diyarbakır 5th High Criminal Court on Tuesday, where he was retried on charges of the successive dissemination of terrorist propaganda.

Çoban was charged due to a series of news reports and articles published in Azadiya Welat in September and October 2014 that allegedly disseminated propaganda the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey and much of the international community.

The journalist was previously convicted in another trial on terrorism charges and is currently serving a sentence in the southern province of Kahramanmaraş.

Çoban’s lawyer, Resul Temur, who was in court for Tuesday’s hearing, said the charges against his client were unlawful because they were not filed within the maximum four-month period following the publication of an article as stated in Turkey’s Press Code.

Çoban was indicted in February 2015 by the Diyarbakır Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office. In the same year, he was convicted on the propaganda charges and was given a 21-month suspended sentence.

He was retried when he faced same charges in another trial triggered by the discovery of newspaper articles from a leftist daily in his prison cell.

A defendant who receives a suspended sentence but commits the same crime again within five years is subject to the revocation of the suspension and can be sent to prison.

Kurdish journalists in Turkey frequently face legal harassment, stand trial and are given jail sentences for covering issues related to Kurds and the PKK.

Turkey, which is known as one of the top jailers of journalists in the world, was ranked 149th among 180 countries in the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) 2022 World Press Freedom Index.

Dozens of critical journalists were jailed in Turkey, while many media outlets were closed down in the aftermath of the coup attempt in 2016.

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