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Journalist faces possible imprisonment in "confidentiality of sources" case

(BIANET/IFEX) - The prosecution in Beytüþþebap, in Sirnak province of southeastern Turkey, has charged Emin Bal for not informing legal authorities when people shouted "criminal" slogans at the funeral of a Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) fighter he was filming.

The charge has been justified citing Article 278 of the Penal Code, which says that "a person who does not inform legal or administrative authorities when a crime is being committed is to be punished with up to a year's imprisonment."

The article is often used when someone knows the whereabouts of a kidnapped person but does not disclose this information, or when a person is aware of the illegal use of electricity but does not inform authorities.

Bal's case has been postponed until January 2008. Bal, who works for the Dogan News Agency, said to BIANET: "I told the judge that I was simply fulfilling my duty as a journalist and that I did nothing wrong."

Should Bal be punished, this case would set a precedent requiring all journalists to report criminal activities to the authorities. This, in turn, would require them to become experts on criminal law to be able to discern every crime.

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