Istanbul, September 20, 2022 – Turkish authorities should not fight journalist Hatice Şahin’s appeal and stop prosecuting journalists, the Committee for the Protection of Journalists said on Tuesday.
On Monday, September 19, Şahin, a freelance journalist and former reporter for the pro-Kurdish private newspaper Yeni Yaşam, was sentenced to six years and three months in prison on charges of being a member of a terrorist organization by the Ninth Serious Crimes Court in the southeastern city of Diyarbakır, reportedly and tweets the platform for independent journalism, known as P24, which oversaw the Sept. 19 sentencing hearing.
The court did not issue an arrest warrant for the journalist, who was absent from the hearing, but instead extended her existing ban on traveling abroad pending an appeal of the charges, according to the sources. Şahin’s lawyer, Resul Tamur, told the court that the case against the journalist was based on secret testimonies, which he called “lies,” and pushed for Şahin’s acquittal, the reports said.
“The Turkish authorities should not oppose the appeal of journalist Hatice Şahin,” CPJ program director Carlos Martínez de la Serna said in New York. “Turkey should stop charging journalists with terrorism when they do their jobs and take steps to improve the country’s press freedom record.”
According to CPJ’s review of the 78-page indictment against the journalist, the first 73 pages focus on the history and meetings of the Congress of the Democratic Society, known as DTK, a non-state group that authorities claim is affiliated with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party is known as PKK. The evidence against the journalist in the indictment relates to her reporting group meetings such as B. Flights from Istanbul to Diyarbakır on the days the group met in 2017; personal notes and agenda; bugged telephone recordings of brief conversations with individuals about where and when to meet; and secret testimonies claiming that Şahin was involved in terrorism. Sahin has pleaded not guilty, according to the indictment.
Several people have reportedly been arrested and put on trial since 2018 for their alleged involvement in the group. One of the journalists, Ayşegül Doğan, received the same sentence and charges as Şahin in 2020.
CPJ emailed the Diyarbakır Prosecutor General’s Office for comment, but did not immediately receive a response.