Six Turkish journalists yesterday went on trial over reporting on deaths of Turkish intelligence personnel serving in Libya.
The journalists, who have been in jail since early March pending trial, were charged with revealing state secrets in their coverage of the deaths of Turkish intelligence personnel serving in Libya.
In a statement, Murat Agirel of the Yenicag newspaper said: “With these nonexistent charges, I have been held alone in a cell in prison for 120 days. The charges against me are neither based on tangible evidence nor conscientious. … The MIT officer was reported about on social media before I wrote [about] it,” in reference to the Turkey’s National Intelligence AgencyAccording to local media, the court released three journalists, while the remaining three will remain in jail pending trial, with the next hearing scheduled for 9 September.
On 5 March, Turkey’s Interior Minister, Suleyman Soylu, told a local TV station that under Turkish law, people who obtain documents and information concerning the country’s intelligence operations shall be sentenced to between two and eight years in prison with hard labour or a more severe punishment.
This is not the first time journalists have been arrested after being 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 opposition groups.
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), there are currently 47 journalists lingering in Turkish jails, leaving it ranking second worldwide after China.
Turkey ranks 154 out of 180 countries in the Reporters Without Borders’ 2020 World Press Freedom Index.