Turkey: Court Conviction of Reporter Criminalizes Journalism

Washington

In response to a Turkish court’s conviction of a Wall Street Journal reporter in absentia for “terrorist propaganda” and her sentence to 25 months in prison for an article published in August 2015 on fighting between the government and the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), Freedom House issued the following statement:

“The conviction of Ayla Albayrak for doing her job as a journalist is a grave violation of press freedom,” said Michael J. Abramowitz, president of Freedom House. “A journalist’s job is to report freely, including on issues and events that governments would prefer to discuss only on its own terms or not disclose at all. By convicting Albayrak for her professional activities, Turkey’s courts demonstrate that they consider journalism that offends them a criminal activity.”

Background:

On October 10, 2017, a Turkish court found Ayla Albayrak guilty of “terrorist propaganda” for a Wall Street Journal article she wrote on fighting between the Turkish state and the PKK in Turkey's southeastern city of Silopi. The article included a quote from a PKK militant, as well as multiple quotes from Turkish government officials. Turkey, the United States, and the European Union consider the PKK a terrorist organization due to its long history of attacks against civilians. After a two-year ceasefire in which peace talks were ongoing, fighting between the PKK and Turkey resumed in July 2015. 

Turkey is rated Partly Free in Freedom in the World 2017, Not Free in Freedom of the Press 2017, and Not Free in Freedom on the Net 2016.

Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.

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