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Turkey22 September 2008

Journalist sentenced to ten months in prison under anti-terror law

Journalist Cengiz Kapmaz, reporter for pro-Kurdish daily Alternatif, has been sentenced under the Anti-Terror Law to ten months in jail for “making propaganda” for the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK), in an article published in June 2006.

The Court of Assizes in Istanbul also sentenced the paper’s publisher Hasan Bayar and its owner, Ali Gürbüz, to fines of the equivalent of 1,100 and 2,300 euros respectively.

Kapmaz, told Reporters Without Borders that he would appeal against the 16 September 2008 conviction handed down by the Istanbul court, which he termed “unacceptable and tragic-comic”.

“My conviction proves that the steps taken towards democracy in this country with a view to European Union membership have not produced any concrete results”, he said.

Kapmaz was found guilty of doing an interview, while a reporter for the daily Ülkede Özgür Gündem, with Orhan Dogan, a former deputy for the pro-Kurdish Democratic Party (DEP), who died in June 2007. Kapmaz was also fined 375 Turkish liras (208 euros).

In the interview, Dogan proposed that the PKK which is banned in Turkey and deemed a terrorist organisation by the EU, should become part of the Turkish political scene and that “a group of politicians headed by a PKK leader, Zübeyir Aydar, should come to Turkey and become independent candidates at elections.”

Kapmaz was convicted under Article 7 paragraph 2 of the Anti-Terror Law 3713 (TMY) for relaying Dogan’s words. He is currently free while awaiting his appeal.

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