On 4 June, the Istanbul 11th High Criminal Court sentenced journalist Irfan Aktan to imprisonment of one year and three months on the grounds of the article entitled "Weather conditions in the region and in Qandil/No solution without fighting" published in the Express magazine on 15 September 2009.
The Qandil Mountains are a rough region in northern Iraq where the militant Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) has established a number of camps accommodating several high-ranking members of the organization.
The Express magazine is published twice a month. Editorial manager Merve Erol received a monetary fine of TL 16,000 (€ 8,000) for the article published in the 99th issue of the magazine.
Anti-Terror Law enforced...
After the defence speeches presented by lawyers Tora Pekin and Bülent Utku, the court convicted both journalists of "making propaganda for a terrorist organization" according to article 7 of the Anti-Terror Law (TMY). The punishment was based on a single sentence containing a statement of a PKK/Kongra-Gel member and a quotation from the Özgür Halk ('Free People') magazine.
The court initially decreed for imprisonment of one year for Aktan, according to the lower limit prescribed by law. Subsequently, the sentence was increased to one year and six months in total because the offence was committed via the media. Eventually, the sentence was fixed at one year and three months due to "good conduct". Lawyer Pekin announced to file an appeal.
In the previous hearing on 5 May, the journalists had drawn attention to the fact that the article was written at a time when the discussions about the "Kurdish initiative" had just started and when PKK members had come from Habur to surrender. They said that the perception that violence had eventually come to an end for good could have been misleading while a part of the PKK was not ready to put down their weapons. The journalists indicated that the public had the right to be informed about this aspect as well. (EÖ/VK)
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