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Two newspaper editors on trial

(BIANET/IFEX) - Journalist Mustafa Kemal Celik of the "Batman Post" newspaper is facing charges of "praising a criminal" after an interview with the family of Mahsum Korkmaz, a militant from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) who was killed in 1986. Batman is located in the predominantly Kurdish region of southeastern Turkey.

Meanwhile, Ercan Atay, the editor-in-chief of "Batman Newspaper", another local daily, is also facing the same charges after his paper published an email sent by the PKK about a roadside bomb attack in Batman that killed four human rights activists. The bomb attack took place on 31 July; the email was published on 8 August.

Celik will appear before the Magistrate Criminal Court of Batman on 13 December.

The interview that led to the charges, entitled "The Korkmaz family told the 'Batman Post' their very bitter story," was published on 22 August 2010. It was reported that "two family members died when they were tortured in clashes; the father of the family died in custody".

The interview was done with Deputy Mayor Fehmi Korkmaz and his brother, Masallah Korkmaz. It was reported that the body of Mahsum Korkmaz, who was killed during a military operation in 1986, was never returned to his family. It was said that he was first taken to Tugary/Siirt (southeastern Turkey) and four months later was dumped into the Kasaplar River.

The date of Atay's first hearing is still unknown. Fehmi and Masallah Korkmaz are also being tried in the Atay case, and they are facing the same charges of "praising a crime and a criminal".

On 7 December, the Press Council and the International Press Institute National Committee called both journalists on the phone to express their support. The representatives of the professional press organizations vowed to follow both trials. They announced that they would address both issues with the "Freedom for Journalists Platform", which consists of 17 press institutions.

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