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Journalist gets 13 years in prison on terrorism charges

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A journalist from a now-closed Kurdish newspaper has been handed down a prison sentence of 13 years, three months on various terrorism charges and faces immediate arrest under a warrant issued by the court, the Mezopotamya news agency reported.

Journalist Çetin Kurşun is a former employee of the Kurdish language Azadiya Welat newspaper, which is among the dozens of media outlets that were closed down by the government in the aftermath of a failed coup in 2016.

Kurşun was initially indicted on charges of disseminating terrorist propaganda on the Ciwannews website for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and was given a prison sentence of three years. He is accused of establishing the Kurdish news website, which according to Turkish authorities, is engaged in spreading propaganda for the PKK.

His sentence was later reversed by an appeals court in the southeastern province of Gaziantep.

The journalist was subsequently retried, this time facing charges of membership in a terrorist organization in addition to the propaganda charges.

The third hearing was held on Thursday at the Mardin 2nd High Criminal Court, which senteenced Kurşun to eight years, three months on charges of terrorist organization membership and an additional five years on propaganda charges. The prosecutor demanded that the journalist be given the maximum sentences for the relevant charges.

The court also issued an arrest warrant for Kurşun.

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.

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