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Turkey7 January 2009

Editor of Taraf facing up to five years in prison

Reporters Without Borders today voiced support for Adnan Demir, editor of the liberal daily Taraf, who is facing trial for publishing confidential military information.

The worldwide press freedom organisation said it hoped the Turkish justice system would prove itself capable of resolving a case which involved a journalist who had done his job with professionalism.

"Adnan Demir has revealed information that is telling about the actions of the Turkish Army and raises several questions about possible mismanagement. The people have the right to be informed about the circumstances in which its citizens risk their lives."

«We salute this journalist’s courage and we hope that the judges will show leniency. Even if the information revealed is compromising for the army, the journalist is not responsible for the reality of what he has made public » the organisation said.

The prosecutor at the Istanbul higher court yesterday called for a sentence of three to five years against Demir.

The newspaper in October 2008 carried a series of articles on an attack on 4 October, carried out and claimed by the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK) on the Iranian-Turkish border. The offensive cost the lives of around 15 Turkish soldiers, most of them young conscripts. The journalist is accused of publishing confidential military information criticising the role of the Turkish army in the attack.

Following the attack, the daily said that the army had known one month in advance of the movement by a group of rebels across the mountains of northern Iraq in the direction of the Turkish border.

Taraf also referred to the existence of a police report warning five days ahead of the PKK offensive that the rebels were transporting anti-aircraft hardware.

Demir faces up to five years in jail for ‘divulging secret and forbidden information’ under Article 336 of the Turkish criminal code. His trial is due to open in the next few days. The newspaper in July 2008 readied itself for a police search which did not happen when the prosecutor of the military heads of staff threatened the daily with seizure of a confidential document belonging to the army. This document also concerned knowledge by state intelligence services of an imminent PKK attack on Turkish army positions. This attack, on 21 October 2007, resulted in the death of 13 Turkish soldiers and the abduction of eight more.

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