WSJ says Turkey reporter convicted of ‘terror propaganda’

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan attends the funeral of a soldier who died during fighting with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Ayla Albayrak, a Wall Street Journal reporter, has been sentenced to two years and one month in prison over a 2015 article about clashes between the army and the PKK. (AFP)
Updated 11 October 2017
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WSJ says Turkey reporter convicted of ‘terror propaganda’

WASHINGTON: The Wall Street Journal said one of its reporters has been convicted in Turkey and jailed in absentia on charges of publishing “terror propaganda” in an article on clashes between the Turkish army and outlawed Kurdish militants.
Ayla Albayrak, who is currently in New York, has been sentenced to two years and one month in prison, the Journal said Tuesday.
The newspaper defended the article as balanced, and Albayrak said she would appeal.
The ruling has not been confirmed by the authorities or the media in Turkey, where the case has never been publicized.
The August 2015 article reported on a clash in Silopi in the restive southeast between Turkish security forces and the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Following the collapse of a truce in summer of 2015, the Turkish army engaged with fierce clashes with the PKK as it moved to push their militants out of city centers in the region.
Rights activists claim excessive force was used but the government says the operations were essential to bring security to city centers that had fallen under PKK control.
Albayrak’s story featured interviews with the town mayor and residents, a Turkish government official, and a representative of an organization Turkey says is the PKK’s youth wing.
Turkey, as well as the US and the EU, consider the PKK a terrorist group.
The reporter, who has dual Turkish and Finnish citizenship, was ordered in November 2015 to visit her local police station, where she was told she was being probed for allegedly spreading terrorist propaganda.
The reporter argued that the article accurately reflected the status of the conflict between the PKK and the Turkish government, the Journal said.
Then in April 2016, Albayrak was indicted on charges she had violated anti-terror laws.
“This ruling against a professional and respected journalist is an affront to all who are committed to furthering a free and robust press,” said William Lewis, Dow Jones’s chief executive officer and publisher of The Wall Street Journal.
“We call on those who share this commitment to make their voices heard.”
The conviction came as a rift between the US and Turkey deepened, following last week’s arrest of a US consulate employee.
Press freedom has sharply declined in Turkey in recent months, rights groups say, with increased censorship, crackdowns on independent media and a rise in detentions and violence against journalists.


Israel targets rights groups with bill to outlaw filming of soldiers

Israeli soldiers are under constant attack by Israel haters, says defense minister. (AFP)
Updated 17 June 2018
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Israel targets rights groups with bill to outlaw filming of soldiers

  • Rights groups frequently film Israeli soldiers on duty in the occupied West Bank, documentation the organizations say is necessary to expose abuse by the military
  • A ministerial committee which oversees legislation voted to approve the bill on Sunday

JERUSALEM: Israel moved on Sunday to snap the lens shut on rights groups that film its troops’ interactions with Palestinians by introducing a bill that would make it a criminal offense.
Rights groups frequently film Israeli soldiers on duty in the occupied West Bank, documentation the organizations say is necessary to expose abuse by the military.
A video filmed by Israeli rights group B’Tselem in 2016 showing an Israeli soldier shoot dead an incapacitated Palestinian assailant drew international condemnation and led to the soldier’s conviction for manslaughter in a highly divisive trial.
The proposed law, formulated by the ultranationalist Yisrael Beitenu party in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s governing coalition, would make filming or publishing footage “with intent to harm the morale of Israel’s soldiers or its inhabitants” punishable by up to five years in prison.
The term would be raised to 10 years if the intention was to damage “national security.”
A ministerial committee which oversees legislation voted to approve the bill on Sunday. It will now go to parliament for a vote that could take place this week and if ratified, will be scrutinized and amended before three more parliamentary votes needed for it to pass into law.
Yisrael Beitenu leader and Defense Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, praised the committee and said: “Israeli soldiers are under constant attack by Israel haters and supporters of terrorism who look constantly to degrade and sully them. We will put an end to this.”
A Palestinian official condemned the move.
“This decision aims to cover up crimes committed by Israeli soldiers against our people, and to free their hands to commit more crimes,” Deputy Palestinian Information Minister Fayez Abu Aitta told Reuters.
The phrasing of the bill stops short of a blanket ban, aiming instead at “anti-Israeli and pro-Palestinian organizations” which spend “entire days near Israeli soldiers waiting breathlessly for actions that can be documented in a slanted and one-sided way so that soldiers can be smeared.”
Naming B’Tselem and several other rights groups, the bill says many of them are supported by organizations and governments with “a clear anti-Israel agenda” and that the videos are used to harm Israel and national security.
The ban would cover social networks as well as traditional media.
B’Tselem shrugged off the bill.
“If the occupation embarrasses the government, then the government should take action to end it. Documenting the reality of the occupation will continue regardless of such ridiculous legislation efforts,” the group’s spokesman, Amit Gilutz, said.
B’Tselem’s video of the shooting in the West Bank in 2016 led to Israeli soldier Elor Azaria being convicted of manslaughter. He was released in May after serving two-thirds of his 14-month term. Opinion polls after his arrest showed a majority of Israelis did not want a court-martial to take place.