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Journalist gets suspended sentence for defamation of top judiciary members

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A Turkish court has handed down a suspended sentence of 20 months to a journalist on conviction of defaming members of the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court of Appeals, the Media and Law Studies Association reported.

Journalist Miyase İlknur from the Cumhuriyet newspaper was given the sentence due to a column she wrote for the daily on April 16, 2022 in which she talked about the alleged millions of dollars held in offshore bank accounts linked to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on the Isle of Man, a British Crown dependency in the Irish Sea famous for offshore banking.

The claims were brought to public attention by main opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu in 2017 who later faced a lawsuit from Erdoğan and was ordered to pay TL 190,000 ($7,301 at the time) in total in damages relating to the allegations.

İlknur claimed that thanks intervention of then-İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor İrfan Fidan, who was later appointed to the Constitutional Court, and İstanbul Justice Commission head Ayhan Ayan, who was subsequently named a member of the Supreme Court of Appeals, Kılıçdaroğlu’s claims about Erdoğan and his family were not investigated, and he faced a lawsuit from Erdoğan.

The court handed down a suspended sentence of 10 months to İlknur for defaming the two judges.

But she was acquitted of insult charges on the grounds that the elements of a crime were not present.

Rights groups routinely accuse Turkey of undermining media freedom by arresting journalists and shutting down critical media outlets, especially since 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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