Activist Korur Fincancı, journalists acquitted of terrorism charges

A Turkish court on Wednesday acquitted Turkey’s top torture reporting expert Şebnem Korur Fincancı and two journalists of terrorism charges over their work with a pro-Kurdish newspaper.

All three were accused of spreading terrorist propaganda for their work with now defunct pro-Kurdish Özgür Gündem newspaper, left-wing Birgün daily reported.

A prosecutor had demanded jail sentences ranging from 18 months to 7.5 years for Fincancı, Erol Önderoglu, the Turkey representative for media watchdog Reporters Without Borders, and columnist Ahmet Nesin.

Fincancı said she was surprised by the acquittal and expressed her concern for the other Özgür Gündem staff who remain on trial.

Özgür Gündem, an Istanbul-based daily newspaper that was printed in Turkish and Kurdish which was associated with the Kurdish political movement, was closed down in 2016 by a state of emergency decree in the aftermath of the failed coup.

The newspaper’s journalists have been charged with a range of crimes including conducting propaganda for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, an armed group that resumed its decades long fight against the Turkish state for Kurdish self-rule after the breakdown of peace talks in 2015.

Since the July 2016 coup attempt, the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has shut down more than 175 news outlets and jailed 135 journalists as part of a crackdown on critical media.