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Two journalists face lengthy jail sentences over writings about prosecutor

(BIANET/IFEX) - The prosecutor in Gerger, in the southeastern province of Adiyaman, has asked for a sentence of 13 years and two months for journalist Haci Bogatekin, who has already served 109 days in prison for voicing his opinion about Prosecutor Sadullah Ovacikli's possible close connections to Fethullah Gülen, a well-known Islamic community leader in Turkey.

Another journalist, Cumali Badur, is facing four years and six months in prison for publishing prosecutor Ovacikli's threat to Bogatekin for writing about the possible connection between him and Gülen on the website gergerim.com. Prosecutor Ovacikli told Bogatekin, "How can you call his highness Fethullah Gülen Hodja 'Feto'? Apologise right away, otherwise I will burn you." ['Feto' is the usual shortened version of the name Fethullah.]

The Criminal Court of First Instance gave both journalists until 5 February 2009 to prepare their defences.

In addition, the head of the court, Aysegül Simsek, revoked the decision to wait for the outcome of the Ministry of Justice's investigation into Prosecutor Ovacikli on the grounds that it would not have any effect on the case's outcome.
However, contrary to Prosecutor Ali Catal's opinion, Bogatekin wants to wait for the investigation's outcome as he expects it to demonstrate the truth of his allegation that Ovacikli had his private Internet site done by a person affiliated with the Muslim community of Nur Asya.

On 30 July, the court finally released Bogatekin after extending his stay in prison twice on the grounds that he might escape or go into hiding, commit a crime or pressure the witnesses in the case filed by Ovacikli with the testimonies of six police officers. He is now facing another prison sentence.

Earlier, the international organisation Reporters Without Borders had demanded the release of Bogatekin while he was in Kahta Prison in Adiyaman province. After watching the hearing on 30 May, RSF stated that the case had raised the issue of whether or not the judiciary was independent of the political authorities in Turkey.

On 25 June, the 3rd High Criminal Court of Malatya sentenced Bogatekin to 18 months in prison for "doing propaganda" for the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

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