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Journalist sentenced, another on trial after publishing critical articles

(BIANET/IFEX) - On 22 April 2010, Şamil Tayyar, Ankara correspondent of the "Star" newspaper, was handed down a 15 months' prison sentence by the Bakırköy 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance. On 22 June 2009, he had reported on allegations of forgery against Colonel Dursun Çiçek, who supposedly used different signatures when signing the "Plan against Reactionary Forces" and a related statement.

Tayyar had previously been sentenced to a total of 35 months' imprisonment in two different cases. Tayyar had written that "despite the directive of Prime Minister Erdoğan, the AK Party (the ruling Justice and Development Party) is delaying the amendments of the Turkish Criminal Code and it is no longer my concern." The Media Association condemned the punishment imposed on Tayyar.

In a separate case, "Radikal" newspaper reporter İsmail Saymaz will be tried on 29 April for his critical news reports on Special Forces Department Deputy Chief İbrahim Şahin. Saymaz will stand trial on allegations of "violating the secrecy of the investigation" and the "attempt to influence a fair trial" because of an article questioning the role of Şahin, a defendant in the Ergenekon case who is also involved in the Sursurluk scandal.

Saymaz's prosecution is based on his article entitled "Creepy questions that were not answered by Şahin", published in the "Radikal" daily on 11 February, and follow-up articles entitled "Interrogation of Ibrahim Şahin stretches out to the TSK (Turkish Armed Forces)", "Questions on bomb and map remain unanswered" and "Şahin's message that 'Armenians should die'".

Public Prosecutor Pircan Barut Emre prepared the indictment on 12 January. It says that Saymaz, "violated the secrecy of the investigation by publishing pictures of people who are suspected guilty and by publishing details of the investigation. He published pictures that unfairly stigmatized some of the accused during the investigation and prosecution. Considering the way the news was published it did not fulfill the conditions of secrecy. He misused his right to inform and to criticize in an unlawful manner."

Furthermore, Saymaz stands accused of violating the restriction order issued by the Istanbul 13th High Criminal Court in the hearing on 30 July 2008 and of intentionally influencing a fair trial in respect to the allegations against Şahin.

The case filed against "Radikal" editorial manager Hasan Çakkalkurt on 28 March 2009 resulted in the acquittal of Çakkalkurt. The court decided that Saymaz was to be held responsible for the articles and thereupon opened the trial against him.

Saymaz will appear before the 1st Criminal Court of First Instance in Bakırköy (Istanbul) on 29 April. He is facing a prison sentence of up to nine years according to articles 285 and 288 of the Turkish Criminal Code (TCK).

The General Staff Presidency suspended the accreditation for "Radikal" on 13 February by reason of false information conveyed by the news articles.

On 11 and 12 February, "Radikal" had published a statement made by Şahin to the prosecutor saying that he had formed a team of 300 people for domestic cleaning and that the General Staff knew about it.
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