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Turkish journalist freed after three years in prison

(IPI/IFEX) - 29 November 2012 - The International Press Institute (IPI) today welcomed news that journalist and publisher Bedri Adanir, who had been imprisoned in Turkey for nearly three years, has been released.

A court in Diyarbakir on Tuesday ordered Adanir, owner of Aram Publishing and a writer for the Kurdish daily newspaper Hawar, free after convicting him of aiding a terrorist organisation voluntarily and sentencing him to six years and three months in prison. Adanir was not convicted, however, of being a member of a terrorist organisation and the court ordered his release after taking into account the amount of time he spent behind bars.

The journalist was initially imprisoned in January 2010 on allegations that he was a member of the separatist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) - which the United States, the European Union and Turkey label a terrorist organisation - and that he spread propaganda on the group's behalf. His alleged offences included distribution of books and magazines containing arguments and speeches that imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan presented in his defence before the European Court of Human Rights.

Authorities reportedly argued that the materials were illegal, but sources have indicated that they remain widely available and may be purchased easily at bookstores. Adanir was also charged over his writings at Hawar about the views of Ocalan, which the indictment against him alleged constituted PKK propaganda.

The journalist was a driving force behind the Tutuklu Gazete (Arrested Gazette), a journal created by imprisoned journalists in Turkey. Representatives of the Freedom for Journalists Platform, an umbrella group of national and local free expression groups, which includes IPI's Turkish National Committee, attended many of the hearings at his trial in Diyarbakir.

IPI's Turkish National Committee yesterday issued a statement saying that Adanir's "long imprisonment, which was so long as to cover the term of his sentence, is unacceptable and his release is a belated decision." Pointing to a reported recent statement by Turkish Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin that one journalist in prison is too many and "should not be", and that there was a "deficiency", the group commented that "this deficiency should be resolved immediately and all imprisoned journalists should be freed within the shortest time."

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