A journalist in the predominantly Kurdish province of Diyarbakır has been sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison due to her journalistic activities in 2015 and 2016 on conviction of aiding and abetting a terrorist organization, the Evrensel daily reported.
Journalist Nurcan Yalçın was given the prison sentence on Thursday during the last hearing of her trial at a high criminal court in Diyarbakır.
She used to work for the Jin News Agency (JINHA), a pro-Kurdish news agency that the government closed down under a post-coup emergency rule in the aftermath of a failed coup in 2016.
Yalçın was indicted by the Diyarbakır Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office due to video interviews and photos she took in Diyarbakır’s Sur district in 2015 and 2016, when militants from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) moved its operations to towns, setting up barricades and digging trenches to keep the security forces away.
Sur witnessed heavy fighting between PKK militants and Turkish security forces at the time when the historic city suffered significant destruction, with many of its residents fleeing out of fear for their safety.
Yalçın was facing a prison sentence of up to 15 years. According to the prosecutor, the statements made during the interviews conducted by the journalist threatened the territorial integrity of Turkey and did fall within the limits of freedom of speech.
According to the court, Yalçın “consciously and intentionally” supported a terrorist organization through her journalistic activities, while her lawyer demanded the journalist’s acquittal, saying she was only doing her job.
Yalçın had been detained during a police raid on her house in Diyarbakır on Feb. 4 and was released under judicial supervision three days later.
She is currently being tried in other proceedings all related to her work as a journalist.
Kurdish journalists in Turkey frequently face legal harassment, stand trial and are given jail sentences for covering issues related to Kurds and the PKK, considered a terrorist organization by Turkey and much of the international community.
Turkey, which is known as one of the top jailers of journalists in the world, was ranked 149th among 180 countries in the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) 2022 World Press Freedom Index.
Dozens of critical journalists were jailed in Turkey, while many media outlets were closed down in the aftermath of the coup attempt in 2016.