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Prosecution demands jail terms for journalists over reporting on Turkish black op in Libya

A prosecutor has demanded sentences ranging from eight to 19 years for journalists over their reports on a Turkish intelligence officer killed in Libya, the Diken news website reported on Tuesday.

Barış Terkoğlu, Aydın Keser, Ferhat Çelik, Eren Ekinci, Erk Acarer, Hülya Kılınç, Barış Pehlivan and Murat Ağırel face jail sentences on charges of “disclosing information related to national security” and “disclosing documents pertaining to intelligence operations.” 

They published reports and tweeted about the secretly held funeral of an agent of the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) killed during a mission in Libya, where rival factions vie for control of the war-torn country. Turkey backs the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA), which had been fighting against the Libyan National Army (LNA) until a recent ceasefire, and has been accused by European powers of escalating the conflict with military aid and the transfer of foreign fighters to Libyan soil.

During the first hearing on June 24, the court released pending trial Terkoğlu, Çelik and Keser, who had been in jail since early March.

Pehlivan and Kılınç from the OdaTV news website and Ağırel from the Sözcü daily have been imprisoned for six months.

Acarer is out of the country and is being tried in absentia.

Eren Ekinci, a municipal worker in the western Turkish town of Akhisar, is accused of supplying pictures to the journalists of the funeral of the deceased intelligence officer.

Turkey is ranked 154th by Reporters Without Borders’ (RSF) 2020 World Press Freedom Index, and 64 journalists are currently imprisoned in the country, according to the Press in Arrest project.

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