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Writer to serve sentence for showing solidarity with Kurdish daily

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A Kurdish writer has been sent to prison to serve a 15-month sentence on conviction of disseminating terrorist propaganda when acting as the symbolic editor-in-chief of a now-closed Kurdish newspaper, the Mezopotamya news agency reported.

Fifty-six journalists, lawyers and human rights activists had served as symbolic editors-in-chief between May and August 2016 in solidarity with the now-shuttered Özgür Gündem newspaper.

Forty-nine of them were prosecuted, and the newspaper was closed by government decree in October 2016 after a failed coup that gave the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan vast authority under a subsequent state of emergency.

Writer Dilşah Kocakaya was among 13 who participated in the solidarity campaign and were convicted and sentenced to prison in April 2019. Kocakaya also wrote an article in support of Özgür Gündem, which, according to prosecutors included terrorist propaganda for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey and much of the international community.

She was detained in the northwestern province of Edirne on Wednesday and subsequently arrested since the Supreme Court of Appeals upheld her sentence in July.

Mezopotamya said Kocakaya’s family has not been informed which prison she was sent to.

In September Celalettin Can, a well-known activist, writer and journalist, was also sent to prison to serve a 15-month sentence on the same charges.

Rights groups routinely accuse the Turkish government of trying to keep the press under control by imprisoning journalists, closing down media outlets, overseeing the purchase of media brands by pro-government conglomerates and using regulatory authorities to exert financial pressure, especially after President Erdoğan survived a coup in July 2016.

According to Reporters Without Borders (RSF), 90 percent of the national media in Turkey, which was ranked 165th among 180 countries in the RSF’s 2023 World Press Freedom Index, is owned by pro-government businessmen and toe the official line.

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