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Man who threatened "Agos" newspaper employees given three-year prison sentence

(BIANET/IFEX) - 14 June 2010 - The Şişli (Istanbul) 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance has found Yasin Yildiz guilty of "insult" and "issuing threats" and has sentenced him to three years and three months in prison. Yildiz was convicted for sending e-mails to employees of the weekly Armenian newspaper "Agos" after the murder of the paper's editor-in-chief, Hrant Dink, in 2007.

Local courts in Şişli previously sentenced Kenan Celepoğlu to a monetary fine of TL 8,000 (approximately €4,000) for e-mails sent to the Armenian weekly that contained insults, threats and racist comments. In the same context, Muhammet Karay received a prison sentence of three years and three months, Zafer Filiz was sentenced to three years and Rıdvan Doğan to two years in jail. Requests to suspend the sentences of the four un-detained defendants were dismissed.

Yildiz accepted the charges against him in the hearing that took place on 10 June 2010. He stated that he had been agitated because of the publications and propaganda relating to the Turkish-Armenian question. He sent the e-mails to the newspaper as a way to let off steam, he claimed.

The weekly's attorneys filed a criminal complaint saying that the newspaper's employees were harassed by the messages since they contained insults, threats and racist content.

In accordance with the prosecutor's final submission, the court issued a three-year sentence based on "issuing threats" and another three months imprisonment for "insult". The latter punishment was postponed.

"Agos" attorney Fethiye Çetin previously told BIANET that judiciary decisions have been heading in a positive direction since the Dink murder. Yet, Çetin conceded, threats via the Internet were still continuing since the medium is difficult to control.

In the latest incident in February, the "Agos" web site was hacked and a picture of Dink murder suspect Ogün Samast was posted on the main page.

"Agos" received several threats before Dink's murder. The newspaper's lawyers said that after the murder, applications regarding ongoing threats via e-mail were not properly dealt with.


BACKGROUND:

Four decisions with intimidating potential were made in four different cases. In December 2009, the Şişli 2nd Criminal Court ordered Celepoğlu to pay TL 8,000 for sending insulting, threatening and racist emails to "Agos". At the time that lawyers filed the complaint in the case, the sender of the messages had not been identified. The court managed to identify Celepoğlu during the course of the investigation.

On 28 May 2009, Karay received a prison sentence of three years and three months handed down by the Şişli 1st Criminal Court of First Instance for threatening "Agos" employees and Armenians in e-mails he had sent.

Filiz received a prison sentence of three years from the Şişli 9th Criminal Court of First Instance on 20 March 2008 for threatening the newspaper 12 days after Dink's assassination.

The same court handed down a two-year sentence to 19-year-old Doğan in October 2007 for threats he had sent to the newspaper after the Dink murder. The sentence was suspended and the court ruled in favour of a probation period of two years.

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