Turkey acquits top journalist in ‘espionage’ case

Erdem Gul, the Ankara bureau chief of the opposition Cumhuriyet daily, was acquitted by the Istanbul criminal court, the state-run Anadolu news agency said. (AFP)
Updated 16 July 2018
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Turkey acquits top journalist in ‘espionage’ case

ISTANBUL: An Istanbul court on Monday acquitted one of Turkey’s most prominent political journalists in a long-running case on espionage charges dating back to an arms interception on the Syrian border in 2014.
Erdem Gul, the Ankara bureau chief of the opposition Cumhuriyet daily, was acquitted by the Istanbul criminal court, the state-run Anadolu news agency said.
Gul had in May 2016 been sentenced to five years in jail and his then editor-in-chief Can Dundar to five years and 10 months for revealing state secrets over their front-page story which alleged Turkish secret services sought to deliver arms to Syria rebels.
Despite spending time in pre-trial detention, neither was sent to jail immediately and both walked free pending appeal.
But in a hugely complex process, Turkey’s top appeals court in March quashed both convictions, saying that Gul should be acquitted but Dundar given a stiffer sentence of up to 20 years. A retrial then commenced.
The cases of Gul and Dundar have now been separated and Dundar remains on trial.
Gul is still working in his job for Cumhuriyet but Dundar left Turkey for Germany shortly after the initial verdict, saying he refused to put his head “under the guillotine.”
Cumhuriyet’s report on a shipment of arms intercepted at the Syrian border in January 2014 sparked a furor when it was published, fueling speculation about Turkey’s role in the Syrian conflict and its alleged ties to Islamist groups.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had reacted furiously to the allegations, personally warning Dundar he would “pay a heavy price.”
He has accused Fethullah Gulen, the US-based preacher blamed by Turkey for the 2016 failed coup, of instigating the scandal to discredit his government.
It was the first in a number of high profile criminal cases against journalists which multiplied after the failed July 2016 coup against Erdogan and amplified concerns over press freedoms in the country.
In a separate case, 13 journalists and staff from Cumhuriyet were given jail sentences of up to seven-and-a-half years in late April on terror-linked charges, which critics said was punishment for the paper’s anti-Erdogan stance.
They are all however still free pending appeal. Gul remains on trial in another separate case.


Nestle, AT&T pull YouTube ads over pedophile concerns

Updated 22 February 2019
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Nestle, AT&T pull YouTube ads over pedophile concerns

  • A video from a popular YouTuber and a report from Wired showed that pedophiles have made unseemly comments on innocuous videos of kids
  • YouTube has faced advertiser boycotts in the past, including a widespread boycott in early 2017

SAN FRANCISCO, US: Several companies, including AT&T and Nestle, are pulling advertisements from YouTube over concerns about inappropriate comments on videos of children.
A video from a popular YouTuber and a report from Wired showed that pedophiles have made unseemly comments on innocuous videos of kids. The comments reportedly included timestamps that showed where kids innocently bared body parts.
YouTube says it disabled comments on tens of millions of videos and deleted offending accounts and channels.
Nestle and Fortnite maker Epic Games say they paused ads on YouTube while the company works on the issue. AT&T says it has removed ads until YouTube can “protect our brand from offensive content of any kind.”
YouTube has faced advertiser boycotts in the past, including a widespread boycott in early 2017. Since then YouTube has made efforts to be more transparent about how it deals with offensive comments and videos on its site.
But the latest flap shows how much of an ongoing problem offensive content continues to be, said eMarketer video analyst Paul Verna.
“When you think about the scope of that platform and what they’re up against, it is really like a game of whack-a-mole to try to prevent these problems from happening,” he said.
Still, because of the powerful advertising reach of YouTube’s parent Google, brands are unlikely to stay away from YouTube for long, he said.
Digital ad spending in the US is expected to grow 19 percent in 2019 to $129.34 billion this year, or 54 percent of estimated total US ad spending, according to eMarketer, with Google and Facebook accounting for nearly 60 percent of that total.
“At the end of the day, there’s a duopoly out there of Google and Facebook,” for digital advertising, he said. “Any brand that doesn’t play the game with either is potentially leaving a big marketing opportunity on the table.”