Prosecuted Turkish journalists may be spared jail under new law, columnist says

A bill designed to release tens of thousands of prisoners proposed by Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) may also spare journalists from being jailed for insulting the president, Hürriyet columnist Abdülkadir Selvi wrote on Thursday.

Several journalists in Turkey have been sentenced to prison on charges of insulting the president, which carries a sentence of between one and four years, while more still face similar charges.

"A regulation is on the agenda for journalists and intellectuals who receive prison sentences for insults, so they can spend it by doing community service instead of going to jail," said Selvi, a columnist known for his sources in the ruling party.

The bill seeks to release a large number of people held in Turkish prisons, but excludes those found guilty of terrorism and first-degree murder. 

This means the new law excludes journalists, opposition politicians, human rights defenders and dismissed public officials jailed for links to what Turkey calls terrorist organisations.