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Turkey28 October 2003

Journalist jailed for second time

Reporters Without Borders today reiterated its call for a judicial review of the case of journalist Sinan Kara, who was incarcerated yesterday in Urla prison in the western Izmir region to begin serving a one-year prison sentence passed in June by Turkey’s highest appeal court for allegedly threatening Mert Ciller, a son of former Prime Minister Tansu Ciller.

Kara is the former owner of the general interest fortnightly Datça Haber and former correspondent for the news agency Dogan in the Datça region. As things stand, he will have to spend at least 144 days in prison.

Reporters Without Borders already called for a review of the case in a letter to justice minister Cemil Cicek on 22 October. "A sentence of one year in prison seems out of all proportion to the charge on which he was convicted," Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard said in the letter.

"At a time when the European Union is preparing its report on the progress made by Turkey as regards membership, such a severe sentence on a journalist who has already spent months in prison would have the worst possible impact," Ménard added.

The alleged offence occurred when Kara took photographs of Ciller on vacation in Datça. Kara said one of Ciller’s bodyguards attacked him, injuring him and damaging his camera. Kara filed a complaint with the police, alleging assault. But the bodyguard produced witnesses who maintained that Kara was the aggressor and that he had uttered threats.

Kara, who is known for articles criticising local political leaders, was already imprisoned from 26 December 2002 to 7 February 2003 for failing to comply with a press law requirement for newspaper publishers to send two copies of each issue to the sub-prefect’s office.




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