Turkish court hands sentences to journalist for criticizing Erdogan

Husnu Mahalli was handed a suspended sentence of two years and five months in prison for insulting Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan, above. (Reuters)
Updated 08 November 2018
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Turkish court hands sentences to journalist for criticizing Erdogan

  • Husnu Mahalli will not be sent to jail due to time already served and as the ruling is up for appeal
  • Turkish authorities have detained tens of thousands of civil servants, journalists, soldiers and others following a failed military coup in July 2016

ISTANBUL: A Turkish journalist was handed a suspended sentence of two years and five months in prison on Thursday for insulting Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan, a court ruling seen by Reuters showed.
Husnu Mahalli, a prominent journalist who also writes columns in the opposition newspaper Sozcu, will not be sent to jail due to time already served and as the ruling is up for appeal.
The Turkish court also handed Mahalli a suspended sentence of one year and eight months for insulting public officials.
Mahalli will only serve the lesser sentence if he commits a crime that requires a prison sentence in the next five years, during which he will be on probation.
“My client has been sentenced due to the expressions he used in his columns, tweets. These should be regarded within the freedom of criticism. We will appeal the sentence,” Mahalli’s lawyer Ertugrul Aydogan said.
Mahalli was detained in December 2016 after he accused Turkey of assisting terrorist groups in Syria and called Erdogan a dictator. He was released in January in 2017 pending trial.
Mahalli defended himself in court, saying he was doing his journalistic duty, private Demiroren news agency (DHA) reported.
“I have not insulted the president. I have always addressed him as Mr. President. The word ‘dictator’ is not an insulting word. I demand my acquittal,” he said during his defense, DHA said.
Turkish authorities have detained tens of thousands of civil servants, journalists, soldiers and others following a failed military coup in July 2016. They have also shut down about 130 media outlets.
Erdogan has said some journalists helped nurture terrorists through their writing, and says the crackdown is needed to ensure stability in Turkey, a NATO member that borders Syria, Iraq and Iran.
Critics say Erdogan is using the post-coup crackdown to muzzle dissent and tighten his grip on power, charges he denies. The European Union, which Turkey aspires to join, has also criticized the crackdown.


Yemeni spokesman says militants seek to ignite Hodeidah fighting

Updated 21 March 2019
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Yemeni spokesman says militants seek to ignite Hodeidah fighting

  • Renewed fighting in Hodeidah would risk severing the main passage for humanitarian aid
  • A senior Houthi member earlier said a withdrawal is “impossible”

CAIRO: Yemen’s militants are igniting more conflict by their refusal to give up control of the key port city of Hodeida, the focus of months of UN-brokered talks, a government spokesman said.
Renewed fighting in Hodeidah would risk severing the main passage for humanitarian aid to the rest of the country, including northern Yemen, a heartland of the Houthi militants.
Rageh Badi, spokesman for the internationally recognized Yemen government, denounced remarks by senior militant leader Mohammed Ali Al-Houthi who earlier this week told The Associated Press that the Saudi-led coalition, which backs the government side in the conflict, is trying to change the terms of the agreement struck last year in Sweden and that a militant withdrawal would therefore be “impossible.”
Badi told reporters at a press conference Wednesday in the southern city of Aden that such remarks could set off renewed fighting in Hodeidah, the key entry point for international aid to the war-torn country, and violate the tentative peace agreement reached by the two sides in Sweden.
The remarks are a “renunciation of the Hodeidah agreement and a declaration of war,” Badi said, urging the UN to step up pressure on the rebels to prevent another “explosion of the situation” in Hodeidah. Otherwise, renewed fighting is just a “few days” away, he added.