Turkish riot police detain protesters in Ankara on September 14, 2017 during the trial of two Turkish teachers, who went on a hunger strike over their dismissal following last year’s failed coup. (Reuters Photo)
American daily Wall Street Journal (WSJ)
has sentenced one of its reporters to two years in prison on charges of engaging in terrorist propaganda.
The newspaper said on Tuesday that Ayla Albayrak, a Finnish-Turkish citizen, was convicted of terrorist propaganda for writing an article about a conflict between Kurdish militants and the Turkish government in the country’s southeastern areas in 2015.
Albayrak plans to appeal against her conviction, the WSJ said. The reporter argued that the article accurately reflected the status of the conflict.
2015 saw the collapse of a ceasefire deal between Ankara and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militant group, which has been fighting for autonomy for decades. Ankara, the US and the European Union, consider the PKK a terrorist group.
The verdict comes amid an Ankara-Washington row, which broke out last week after a US consulate employee was arrested in Istanbul. The US and Turkey have suspended all non-immigrant visa services for travel between the two countries.
Turkey has also been involved in diplomatic brawls with some European countries, mainly over Ankara’s human rights records. The EU is now considering suspension of the process of Turkey’s accession to the bloc.
Over 100 journalists have been jailed in Turkey and nearly 200 media outlets were shut down since a coup attempt against the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on July 15, 2016.
Turkish police detain a protester during a demonstration in Ankara on October 10, 2017 in support of a university professor who was sacked following last year’s failed coup. (AFP photo)
The Turkish government accuses the US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen of having orchestrated the attempted coup. Gulen, a former Erdogan ally turned arch-foe, has denied the allegation.
Turkey has called on the US to extradite Gulen, but the demand has not been taken heed of.
Turkey, which remains in a state of emergency since the coup, has been engaged in suppressing the media and opposition groups suspected to have played a role in the failed coup.
On Tuesday, Turkish police reportedly launched an operation across seven provinces to arrest 70 military personnel over their alleged links to Gulen.
Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, policemen, teachers, and civil servants and has arrested nearly 50,000 others in the post-coup crackdown.
Many rights groups, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have denounced Ankara’s heavy clampdown on perceived putschists.