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"Azadiya Welat" editorial manager sentenced to 138 years in jail; former "Heviya Jine" editor receives three-year prison term

(BIANET/IFEX) - The former editorial manager and concessionaire of the Kurdish newspaper "Azadiya Welat", Emine Demir, received a prison sentence of 138 years on charges of "spreading propaganda for the PKK", the militant Kurdistan Workers Party. The sentence is based on articles Demir accepted for publication in the paper.

The 24-year-old journalist was convicted by the Diyarbakir 5th High Criminal Court in the Kurdish-majority region of southeastern Turkey on 30 December 2010.

Previously, the former editor-in-chief of "Azadiya Welat", Vedat Kursun, was sentenced to 166 years in jail on the same charges and another former "Azadiya Welat" editor-in-chief, Ozan Kilic, received a prison sentence of 21 years. Both journalists are incarcerated at the Diyarbakir E Type Prison.

Demir did not attend the hearing but was represented by her lawyer, Servet Ozen.

Ozen requested that the court consider the articles and news items that were the subject of the trial within the scope of freedom of thought and opinion and advocated for her client's acquittal.

However, the court ruled for an 84-count sentence, applying Article 314 of the Turkish Criminal Law (TCK) on "committing a crime on behalf of an organization without being a member of that organization", based on 84 items published in 2008 and 2009 that allegedly "spread propaganda for an illegal organization". The court decided on an 18 month punishment for each article, adding up to a prison term of 138 years. Additionally, an arrest warrant was issued for Demir, as she is not currently being held in detention.

On the same day, the Diyarbakir 6th High Criminal Court handed down a three-year prison sentence to Gurbet Cakar, former editor-in-chief of the "Heviya Jine" (Women's Hope) magazine. She was found guilty of "committing a crime on behalf of an illegal organization without being a member of the organization" and "making propaganda for the PKK". Cakar was released after the hearing. She had been detained by the Diyarbakir Public Prosecutor's Office since the middle of March, after she had appeared to give her statement.

The same court proceeded in a case against Bedri Adanir, manager of the "Hawar" newspaper. It was decided to keep the journalist in detention until the coming hearing on 3 March 2011.

On 30 December 2010, Kurdish politician Aysel Tugluk, co-chair of the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Congress (DTK), was sentenced to 10 months behind bars by a court in Erzurum (eastern Anatolia) on charges of "praising a crime and a criminal" and "spreading PKK propaganda". An investigation had been launched in the Dogubayazit district of Agri (province of Erzurum) on the grounds of a speech Tugluk delivered in the district. The file was forwarded to the Erzurum Special Authority 2nd High Criminal Court and the case against the Kurdish politician was opened on 12 March 2010. At the final hearing on 30 December, the court decided to postpone the pronouncement of the judgement. The sentence will only be executed if Tugluk commits the same type of offence within the next five years.

Selim Sadak, the mayor of Siirt and a member of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), received the same sentence on charges of "spreading propaganda for the PKK". Sadak was convicted on charges related to a speech he delivered at a meeting in the city of Silopi (in the southeastern province of Sirnak) on 19 October 2008. He initially received a prison sentence of one year under article 7/2 of the Anti-Terror Law, which was then reduced to 10 months.
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