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Security law used to punish editor with 21-year prison sentence

Young Kurdish editor hit with brutal prison term for publishing articles on minority rights.
Young Kurdish editor hit with brutal prison term for publishing articles on minority rights.


A Kurdish editor was sentenced to over 21 years in prison on 9 February by a Turkish court for publishing reports and pictures of the banned Turkey Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK), report the Istanbul-based IPS Communication Foundation (BIANET), the International Press Institute (IPI) and Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

The decision came just two weeks after the European Court of Human Rights ordered Turkey to pay more than 40,000 Euros to 20 Turkish journalists as compensation for having violated their rights, reports IPI.

Ozan Kilinç, owner and editor of the country's only Kurdish-language daily, "Azadiya Welat", was found guilty of "committing a crime on behalf of an illegal organisation" for disseminating PKK propaganda in 12 issues of the paper last year. He was tried in absentia. His lawyer argued that the "news items and articles were written within the scope of freedom of expression," says BIANET.

The newspaper has been targeted for being a mouthpiece of the PKK, and has lost six editors because they either had to leave the country to avoid detention or were imprisoned, says IPI. The previous editor has been behind bars for 13 months and is currently on trial.

"Banning the democratic expression of ethnic minority demands will not help Turkey to put an end to extremist violence," RSF said. "In this case, the sentence was out of all proportion to the offence, which was the expression of views that could be criticised."

On 28 January, the European Court of Human Rights stated that Turkey had violated Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights for suspending five newspapers and imprisoning a magazine editor for writing an article on prison brutality, according to IPI.

The Turkish state has often used anti-terror laws to curb dissent. According to BIANET, 22 journalists were among the 47 people who were tried under this law in 2009. Jail sentences totalling 58 years and fines of 9,740 Turkish pounds (4,640 Euros) were imposed during the trials, reports RSF.

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