Protests against jail sentences for journalists in Turkey

Lawyers and opposition MPs gather outside Caglayan courthouse in Istanbul on Thursday to protest against a court order upholding journalists’ convictions. (AFP)
Updated 21 February 2019
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Protests against jail sentences for journalists in Turkey

  • Around 100 supporters of the journalists including lawyers and opposition MPs staged a protest outside the Caglayan courthouse

ISTANBUL: A group of lawyers on Thursday gathered outside Istanbul’s main courthouse to protest against an appeal court’s upholding the convictions of former journalists and executives from opposition daily Cumhuriyet.

The court on Tuesday confirmed jail sentences against 14 former Cumhuriyet staff including prominent journalists who are charged with “aiding and abetting terror groups without being a member.”

They had been free pending the appeals, but after the court verdict eight of them would have to go back to prison and the remaining six — who were given sentences of more than five years, have the option of appealing further to the Supreme Court.

The controversial case against Cumhuriyet — one of the few remaining dailies opposing President Recep Tayyip Erdogan — has sparked concerns over the state of free press in Turkey.

Media supporters

Around 100 supporters of the journalists including lawyers and opposition MPs staged a protest outside the Caglayan courthouse.

Tora Pekin, a lawyer in the Cumhuriyet case, said the latest ruling meant “the end of the free press” in Turkey, in an address to the crowd.

“It is the time to remember what we said from the very beginning of the case: The ruling delivered is the end of the free press that no longer exists even on paper,” he said.

Veteran journalist Kadri Gursel and lawyer Bulent Utku, who were initially supposed to remain free given their time served, will also have to go back to prison in line with the laws, Pekin said.

“Gursel is supposed to remain in prison for one or two days to fill the remaining term,” Pekin told AFP, adding that the eight were due to return to jail within a week after an arrest warrant.

Turkey is currently ranked 157th out of 180 countries in Reporters Without Borders’ 2018 Press Freedom Index.


Hundreds of Algerian lawyers protest against Bouteflika

Updated 8 min 27 sec ago
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Hundreds of Algerian lawyers protest against Bouteflika

  • They gathered in Algiers’ center, the scene of mass protests for one month
  • Algerians first took to the streets a month ago to protest against Bouteflika’s plan to seek a fifth mandate

ALGIERS: Hundreds of Algerian lawyers protested again on Saturday in the capital to demand the immediate resignation of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika who has been for 20 years in power.
They gathered in Algiers’ center, the scene of mass protests for one month, holding up slogans that read: “Respect the will of the people” and “Yes to a judiciary free from corrupt dignitaries.”
Algerians first took to the streets a month ago to protest against Bouteflika’s plan to seek a fifth mandate.
The 82-year old, who has rarely been seen in public since suffering a stroke in 2013, bowed to the protesters last week by reversing plans to seek re-election.
But he stopped short of quitting as head of state and said he would stay on until a new constitution is adopted. The move further enraged Algerians, and many of Bouteflika’s allies have turned against him.
Some members of the ruling National Liberation Front party, known by its French acronym FLN, have also sided with the demonstrators.
The powerful military has been watching the protests unfold.
The generals have intervened in the past at momentous times, including canceling an election which Islamists were poised to win in 1992, triggering a civil war in which an estimated 200,000 people were killed.
On Friday, hundreds of thousands protested across the North African country.