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Journalist released after two nights in jail for "insulting" former vice-governor of Mus province

(BIANET/IFEX) - A journalist sentenced to a jail term of one year and nine months for alleging the involvement of former Mus Vice-Governor Ibrahim Kücük in corruption, has been released after spending only two nights and a day in prison following a court review under the new Turkish Penal Code, which pronounced him not guilty. Mus is a province in eastern Turkey.

Faruk Aktas, the owner of the regional "Mus News" newspaper, based in eastern Turkey, was taken into custody in Istanbul on the evening of 12 February 2008, after an identity check showed that he had an outstanding prison sentence.

He had been convicted on 14 April 2004 of "insulting an official institution via the media", under Article 264/2 of the old Turkish Penal Code. He was initially given a sentence of one year and six months. He was subsequently also convicted of violating Article 80, and his sentenced increased to one year and nine months.

Aktas had been sentenced for two articles he had written; the first was entitled, "Robbery in the Province, Profiteering in the District". The second article, published on 30 September 2003, was entitled, "They only help their friends."

His case was reopened after the Bakirköy Decree Prosecution applied to the Mus Second Criminal Court.

However, Aktas was released from prison on 14 February, after the court discharged him. He told BIANET that the court had decided to consider the case in accordance with the new Turkish Penal Code, which came into effect on 1 June 2005.

Despite its June 2005 reforms of the Penal Code, Turkey still has several regulations that violate press freedom.

In 2007, four journalists were taken into custody and later released under charges of insult or slander: Sinan Kara, the owner of the "Datca News" in south-west Turkey; Mustafa Koyuncu, an editor of the "Emirdag" newspaper in western Turkey; and Sait Bayram and Firat Avci of the Söz TV and newspaper in Diyarbakir, south-east Turkey (see IFEX alert of 15 August 2007).

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