Turkey: Courts being used to strangle media freedom
Responding to the decision of a Turkish first instance appeals court to uphold the conviction of journalists and executives from the Cumhuriyet newspaper, Amnesty International’s Turkey Strategy and Research Manager, Andrew Gardner said:
“Today’s ruling to send the former Cumhuriyet staff back to prison exposes yet again the way in which politically motivated trials and unsound court decisions are simply rubber stamped by an equally biased appeals process.
“The prosecution of scores of journalists and other media workers is an ongoing affront to press freedom and to justice. By using the courts to increase their stranglehold on the media, the authorities have once again displayed the ugly side of Turkey’s broken judicial system. This should ring alarm bells for anyone who cares about freedom of expression.”
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According to one of the lawyers in the case former Cumhuriyet staff, journalist Hakan Karasinir, cartoonist Musa Kart, lawyers Bülent Utku and Mustafa Kemal Güngor, readers’ ombudsman Güray Öz, executive Önder Çelik and accountant Emre İper will be sent back to prison to complete their sentences, all of which are less than five years.
The paper’s former editor-in-chief Murat Sabuncu, former investigative journalist Ahmet Şık who is now an opposition MP, Hikmet Çetinkaya, Orhan Erinç, executive Akın Atalay and veteran columnist Aydın Engin will appeal against their sentences, all longer than five years, at a higher court.