Friday, April 22, 2016

Journalists and Academics on Trial in Turkish Free Speech Cases

Journalists and Academics on Trial in Turkish Free Speech Cases
Four academics and two journalists are on trial in Turkey Friday in separate cases related to increasingly restricted free speech in the country under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The academics will face charges related to producing “terrorist propaganda” after they signed a declaration condemning Turkey’s military action against Turkish rebels, while the journalists are headed into court for the third hearing in their espionage trial.

  • The two journalists, Can Dundar, editor-in-chief of the opposition Cumhuriyet paper, and his Ankara bureau chief, Erdem Gul, could face life in prison over a story they published alleging the Turkish government smuggled weapons to Syria.

The four academics and more than 1,000 of their colleagues signed the petition urging Turkey to halt its “deliberate massacres and deportation of Kurdish and other peoples in the region." The petition infuriated Erdogan and led to the legal proceedings against them.

Turkey is engaged in military operations against the separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party in the southeastern part of the country. Kurdish activists say civilians have been killed during the operations and have accused Turkey of using excessive force.

If convicted, the academics could be sentenced to up to seven and a half years in prison.

In the recently released 2016 World Press Freedom Index, Turkey fell to 151st out of the 180 countries ranked by Reporters Without Borders. Since becoming president in 2014, Erdogan has prosecuted nearly 2,000 people for insulting him.

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