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Turkey2 July 2008

Newspaper editor in southeast to serve 18 months in prison

An assizes court in the city of Malatya (in the southeastern province of the same name) has just sentenced local newspaper editor Haci Bogatekin to 18 months in prison because of an editorial, in which he was found guilty of propaganda on behalf of a terrorist organisation - the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

Issuing its judgment on 25 June in Bogatekin’s absence, the court said it would not suspend the sentence because he had been convicted in the past. Bogatekin is the owner and editor of Gerger Firat, a fortnightly based in the nearby province of Adiyaman, where he has been held in Kahta prison for the past 80 days.

Bogatekin was convicted under article 7.2 of Law 3713 over a 4 January editorial entitled “Feto and Apo,” in which he argued that the followers of “Feto” (religious leader Fethullah Gülen) posed more of a threat than the followers of “Apo” (jailed PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan). He referred to the PKK’s armed militants as “Apo’s patriots” and said “the secular republic faces a greater danger, a danger of a religious nature.”

The editorial also criticised the army for “going to fight the PKK’s militants in the mountains while the influence of Fethullah Gülen’s Islamist community, which benefits the [ruling] Justice and Development Party, is making itself felt more than ever in the region.”

Bogatekin’s lawyer said he will appeal.

Bogatekin currently has more than 90 other charges pending against him, including “trying to influence the course of justice in his own trial,” and defaming and insulting prosecutor Sadullah Ovacikli for accusing Ovacikli of being linked to Gülen after the prosecutor questioned him about the “Feto and Apo” editorial.

He also faces a possible two-year prison sentence on a charge of “openly humiliating Turkish identity, the republic, and state institutions and bodies” under article 301 of the criminal code by publishing an editorial entitled “Turkey made a mistake” on 10 March 2007.

Read the investigation report into the detention of Haci Bogatekin

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