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

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.


Turkey says ready to send troops to back Libya unity govt

Updated 50 min 48 sec ago

Turkey says ready to send troops to back Libya unity govt

ANKARA: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday he was ready to send troops to Libya if requested by the internationally recognised government in Tripoli.
"On the issue of sending soldiers... If Libya makes such a request from us, we can send our personnel there, especially after striking the military security agreement," he said in a televised appearance.
Turkey signed a military agreement last month with Libya's Government of National Accord, led by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj.
It came after media reports that Russia had sent 200 mercenaries to support Libya's military strongman Khalifa Haftar, who is seeking to unseat the Tripoli-based government.
Russia has denied the reports, but Erdogan said: "There is a security company from Russia (in Libya) called Wagner. This company sent its security staff there."
The Wagner Group is a shadowy private security firm and thousands of its security contractors are believed to be in foreign conflicts from Syria to Ukraine to the Central African Republic.
At the same time as the military deal, Turkey also signed a controversial maritime jurisdiction agreement with Sarraj, giving sweeping rights for Turkey to explore for oil in the Mediterranean.
"With the new line drawn (by the maritime agreement), we will take steps to protect the interests of Libya, Turkey and the TRNC (Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus). This is in line with international law," he said.
The deal has been staunchly opposed by Greece, Cyprus and their European partners which says it violates the islands' maritime rights.