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Turkish journalists arrested over Libya leak

The editor-in-chief of the OdaTV news site Barış Terkoğlu (L) and Hülya Kılınc, a reporter for the outlet (R) [Twitter]
The editor-in-chief of the OdaTV news site Barış Terkoğlu (L) and Hülya Kılınc, a reporter for the outlet (R) [Twitter]

Two journalists have been detained in Istanbul after writing an article about a member of Turkey’s intelligence agency who lost his life in Libya on Thursday.

The editor-in-chief of the OdaTV news site Barış Terkoğlu, and Hülya Kılınc, a reporter for the outlet, are charged with several intelligence-related offences, including obtaining, disclosing and revealing documents and information about the operations of Turkey’s National Intelligence Organisation (MİT).

According to the OdaTV website, the arrests followed an article that included photographs of a member of the MIT, who was among the first Turkish soldiers killed during military operations in Libya.

Kılınc doesn’t accept the charges. She insists that she found the relevant photographs in a report on social media. “Since I learned that citizens and government officials also attended the funeral,” she explained, “I did not see any harm in conveying it to the press.”

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Barıs Terkoglu also rejects the charges and emphasised that state officials attended the funeral. He questioned what aspect of such a funeral needs to remain confidential. “I don’t think me being a suspect here is related to this news. This news is an excuse made up to make me a defendant in these trials,” he said in his official court statement published by OdaTV.

Terkoglu was previously arrested in 2011, as part of the Ergenekon investigations, legal cases between 2008 and 2011 pushed by followers of Fethullah Gülen, a US-based Turkish cleric accused of plotting the 2016 coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Turkey’s Interior Minister, Suleyman Soylu, spoke about the issue on a TV programme regarding the two journalists yesterday. Under Turkish Law, he pointed out, people who obtain documents and information concerning the MIT’s operations shall be sentenced to between two and eight years in prison with hard labour unless what they do necessitates a more severe punishment.

Terkoglu and Kilinc are not the first journalists who have faced arrest in Turkey, accused of revealing state secrets. Can Dundar, the former editor-in-chief of opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet, fled to Germany in 2016 after he was convicted of espionage over a story about MIT arms shipments to Syrian rebels.

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