Turkish court tosses out journalist's conviction

A Turkish court has thrown out the conviction of a former Wall Street Journal reporter, annulling a sentence of two years in prison on charges of terrorist propaganda, Reuters reported

Ayla Albayrak, a citizen of both Turkey and Finland, was sentenced last year in absentia over an August 2015 story about clashes between Turkish security forces and Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) militants in southeastern Turkey.

“While this is a relief after three years of ordeal, I hope this was not intended to be part of Turkey’s ongoing international PR campaign to rescue its image in the West,” Albayrak, who has been living and working in London and Berlin, told the Wall Street Journal. 

Turkey is the world's biggest jailer of journalists, with more than 170 currently behind bars -- including Austrian journalist and activist Max Zirngast. Turkey has recently sought to revitalize relations with the European Union and the United States. 

"Ayla should never have been put in this position," WSJ editor-in-chief Matt Murray said in a note to staff. "Her original conviction in October 2017 for a straight and factual story was totally unfounded and wholly unjust."

Albayrak’s lawyers argued there was no evidence to support the charge of providing PKK propaganda.

“The black comedy part of my life called ‘a trial’ finally ended,” Albayrak said in a tweet. “This decision is a relief for me and my family but not a real sign of greater Press Freedom in Turkey."