Turkish court acquits 3 journalists of supporting terrorism

A Turkish court acquitted three journalists Wednesday on charges of producing propaganda for a terrorist organization in connection with a 2016 incident.

An undated photo of Erol Onderoglu made available by Reporters Without Borders in 2016. Onderoglu and two others were found not guilty in Turkey Wednesday of supporting terrorism. Photo by Sedat Suna

Erol Onderoglu, Ahmet Nesin and Sebnem Korur Financi were prosecuted by Turkish officials after they took over the position of guest editors at Ozgur Gundem, a pro-Kurdish newspaper.

The 13th High Criminal Court cleared them of charges that included inciting the committing of crimes, praising crime and criminals, and conducting propaganda for a terrorist organization.

Onderoglu, a member of Reporters Without Borders, said in a statement that the court victory should be a benefit for all journalists prosecuted for doing their jobs.

“I would like to express my deep gratitude to all those who supported us during this trial,” Onderoglu said. “This fight for all of our unjustly prosecuted or imprisoned colleagues continues.”

RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire, the secretary-general for Reporters Without Borders, warned that Onderglu will face a second trial in November.

“Erol Onderoglu’s acquittal is an exceptional victory for justice and press freedom in a country where both are being trampled on every day,” Deloire said. “Our deep relief is tinged with bitterness because our correspondent will be on trial again in four months’ time.

“The way this historic press freedom defender is being harassed is a deep injustice. We, therefore, urge the Turkish judicial system to demonstrate the same good sense that it showed today and to quickly abandon this new prosecution,” he continued.

Turkey and its Kurdish population, which makes up about 15 to 20 percent of the country’s residents, have long been at odds. The Turkish government has labeled some organizations that support the Kurds and Kurdish independence as terrorist organizations.

The crackdown on the journalists came a month after a failed coup against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his government in July 2016.

ByClyde Hughes