Turkish court sentences journalist Nazan Sala to suspended prison sentence

Istanbul, January 7, 2022 – Turkish authorities should revoke the suspended prison sentence imposed on journalist Nazan Sala and stop harassing journalists for their work, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

Van’s Fifth Serious Crimes Court yesterday convicted Sala, a freelance journalist, of propaganda for a terrorist organization and sentenced her to a 15-month suspended prison sentence, according to news reports.

Authorities in the eastern town of Van condemned Sala based on her tweets and retweets about Turkish politics and the conflict in Syria, as well as posts from other users in which she was tagged, according to court documents that CPJ examined. Sala frequently publishes political analysis and commentary on his Twitter account, where it has around 600 subscribers.

According to these court documents, authorities questioned Sala about her previous employment with pro-Kurdish news organizations, and the evidence used against her included records of her previous work as a journalist.

Sala’s attorney, Erselen Aktan, told CPJ in a telephone interview that Sala intends to appeal the verdict and will pursue his case in the Constitutional Court if his appeal is dismissed.

“The vague propaganda accusations by the Turkish authorities against journalist Nazan Sala should never have been prosecuted, and the suspended prison sentence which was recently imposed on her is unacceptable,” said Gulnoza Said, coordinator of the Europe and Asia program. CPJ headquarters in New York. “Sala has already spent months behind bars for his work, and authorities still appear to persist in prosecuting this legal harassment.”

Sala was initially charged with membership of a terrorist organization, alongside Adnan Bilen, Cemil UÄŸur and Zeynep Durgut – reporters from the pro-Kurdish news agency Mezopotamya – and Åžehriban Abi, journalist for the pro-Kurdish news site. Kurdish. Jinha, according to these reports.

Authorities arrested Bilen, UÄŸur, Abi and Sala in Van in October 2020 and released them pending trial in April 2021, according to CPJ research and the news.

Charges related to Bilen and UÄŸur’s coverage in the Mezopotamya news agency of allegations that Turkish servicemen threw two men from a helicopter in Van in 2020, news reports noted; the journalists were all acquitted of the membership charges, but Sala was separately charged and convicted of carrying out terrorist propaganda.

Sala works as a freelance writer and has contributed to the Mezopotamya news agency and other media, covering politics and war, according to his lawyer.

CPJ emailed Van Attorney General’s office for comment, but received no immediate response.

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