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Judicial harassment continues as two more journalists sentenced

(BIANET/IFEX) - "Günlük" newspaper journalist Veysi Sarisözen was handed down a 15-month prison sentence for "spreading propaganda for an illegal organization" because he called the PKK a "rebel organization". Newspaper owner Veysi Ürper was acquitted and former editorial manger Özlem Aktan is wanted by the police.

Statements made by Sarisözen including saying that 30,000 people have been killed since 1984 in a "war of low intensity" were shown as reasons to sentence him under charges of "spreading propaganda for the PKK", the militant Kurdistan Workers' Party.

The hearing was held on 1 April 2010 at the Istanbul 10th High Criminal Court. The decision was based on an article entitled "Terror or war?" published on 14 June 2007. Sarisözen was convicted under article 7/2 of the Anti-Terror Act (TMY). The court did not consider converting the penalty into a monetary fine or suspending it.

Sarisözen and current newspaper concessionaire Ziya Çiçek are facing imprisonment of another 7.5 years each for the article "It is not us but the people spreading organizational propaganda", published on 6 February 2009.

Additionally, Sarisözen is also being charged in connection with his article entitled "One of the results of the election" published on 10 April 2009. In this piece, the journalist demanded the release of PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan, who has been imprisoned on Imrali Island since 1999.

In a separate case, journalist Nazli Ilicak received a prison sentence for describing Judge Osman Kaçmaz as "officious".

The Istanbul 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance sentenced journalist Ilicak to imprisonment of 11 months and 20 days under the charge of "insult via the media". Ilicak's sentence was converted to a five-year probation period.

Ilicak, a "Sabah" newspaper journalist, wrote a column entitled "The President's Immunity", published on 25 May 2009. The journalist had accused Judge Kaçmaz of behaving officiously and in an ideological manner. Kaçmaz intended to sue President Abdullah Gül in connection with a corruption case in the 1990s.

Ilicak was not present at the hearing when Court Judge Sevim Efendiler claimed that she had "exceeded the limits of criticism".

Judge Efendiler initially decided on a prison sentence of two years and two months under article 125 of the Turkish Criminal Code (TCK) on defamation. The sentence was then changed to eleven months and 20 days' imprisonment.

The judge finally opted for a "probation period" of five years for the writer. If Ilicak "does not deliberately commit the same kind of crime" within this period, the sentence will not be enforced.

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