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Newspaper journalists facing long jail sentences

(BIANET/IFEX) - Prosecutor Mustafa Çavuşoğlu from the 14th High Criminal Court in Istanbul has asked for a prison sentence of 10 years for "Taraf" newspaper reporter Mehmet Baransu after the journalist published allegedly classified documents related to the 3 October 2008 attack by Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) militants on a military outpost in Aktütün that resulted in the death of 17 soldiers.

In the 4 June 2010 hearing, Public Prosecutor Cavuşoğlu requested Baransu's punishment citing article 329/1 of the Turkish Criminal Code (Disclosure of information relating to the security and political interests of the State) on the grounds that he communicated documents labelled as "classified".

Baransu stands accused of publishing data from reports of the General Staff Presidency in his articles entitled "The Aktütün Secrets" and "What was experienced to the minute at the General Staff" published on 13 April 2009.

After the prosecutor's final submission, the journalist's lawyer, Ergin Cinmen, requested additional time in order to prepare the summation for the defence. The case was postponed to 6 September.

Article 329/1 of the Turkish Criminal Code on "Disclosure of information relating to the security and political interests of the State" stipulates that "a person who discloses information whose nature requires it to be kept secret for reasons relating to the security, internal or external political interests of the State shall be sentenced to imprisonment for a term of five to ten years".

In a separate case, a prosecutor for Istanbul's 13th High Criminal Court has demanded prison sentences for "Günlük" newspaper executives Filiz Koçali and Ramazan Pekgöz under article 7/2 of the Anti-Terror Law (TMY) (spreading propaganda for an illegal organization) because of their interviews carried out on Qandil Mountain in northern Iraq.

Koçali and Pekgöz are each facing imprisonment of up to 7.5 years because of their interview with Murat Karayılan, head of the Steering Council of the Democratic Confederation of Kurdistan (KCK), the umbrella organisation that includes the PKK. "Günlük" owner Ziya Çiçekçi is also being tried in the case.

The Karayılan interview was published in the 7, 8 and 9 August 2009 editions of the paper, drawing fire from the chief prosecutor's office, who accused "Günlük" of "spreading PKK propaganda".

A final decision may be reached in the coming hearing on 2 October.

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