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Various journalists detained, released, on trial for allegedly insulting authorities in articles

(BIANET/IFEX) - Two journalists of "Söz" TV and newspaper in Diyarbakir, in south-eastern Turkey, have been put on trial on charges of insulting local authorities in print. In a separate case, the director of the local newspaper "Emirdag" in Afyonkarahisar, in central Anatolia, is being tried for insulting an officer on duty. In a third case, a newspaper owner has been released after serving a five-month prison term.

Sait Bayram and Firat Avci, news editor and journalist of "Söz" respectively, were arrested in Diyarbakir on 18 June 2007 for "insulting local authorities in print" and released on 20 July. They published an article on 18 June claiming that judge Mehmet Yücel of Diyarbakir's first criminal court of peace had been transferred because he had accepted bribes. They will appear in court again on 31 October.

The journalists were kept in prison until their first hearing. They are now being tried by a penal court in Diyarbakir. Editor-in-chief Ömer Büyüktimur said at the time of their arrest, "We are saddened; we reported news and we stand behind our news."

In a separate case, "Emirdag" director Mustafa Koyuncu was arrested on 13 March 2007 for "insulting an officer on duty". The article in question, entitled "Should we have entered the EU like this? They are abusing their positions", was published on 12 March. Forty-four police officers filed complaints against the journalist, who reported the complaints of detained people in the article (see IFEX alert of 22 May 2007). His trial will continue on 3 October. Koyuncu is currently doing his military service, which will end in the middle of September.

In a third case, Sinan Kara of the "Datca News" has been released from prison after serving a five-month sentence handed down when he was the owner of the newspaper. He was penalized for the publication of articles entitled "Cadre of Killers" and "The Party of the Barracks" in 2006.

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