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Journalist given suspended sentence due to social media posts

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A Turkish court has handed down a suspended 15-month sentence to a Kurdish journalist on charges of disseminating terrorist propaganda in her social media posts, the Expression Interrupted platform announced.

The sentence was given to Rojin Altay, a journalist from the pro-Kurdish Yeni Yaşam daily, by the İstanbul 22th High Criminal Court in the first and only hearing of her trial on Thursday.

Altay had been briefly detained at Sabiha Gökçen Airport in İstanbul in January when she was about to take a flight to Diyarbakır. She was later indicted on charges of terrorist organization membership and disseminating terrorist propaganda for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey and much of the international community.

Kurdish journalists frequently face terrorism-related charges in Turkey due to their reports about Kurds, the problems Kurds face or the PKK.

The social media post mainly responsible for Altay’s prosecution was her retweeting of a photo which shows Sakine Cansız, one of the founders of the PKK who was killed along with two other Kurdish women at a cultural center in Paris in 2013, saying, “Resistance is life.”

The court rejected Altay’s lawyer’s request for her acquittal and handed down the minimum sentence for conviction of disseminating terrorist propaganda.

Rights groups routinely accuse Turkey of undermining media freedom by arresting journalists and shutting down critical media outlets, especially since President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan survived a failed coup in July 2016.

Turkey is ranked 165th in the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) 2023 World Press Freedom Index, among 180 countries, not far from North Korea, which occupies the bottom of the list.

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