Kurdish journalist faces jail over social media posts

Kurdish journalist faces jail over social media posts
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Rojin Altay has been handed a 1-year and 3-month imprisonment sentence in Istanbul on charges of spreading "organization propaganda" through her social media. Despite the pronounced sentence, the announcement has been delayed

Kurdish journalist Rojin Altay, a staff member of the Yeni Yasam newspaper, has been sentenced to one year and three months of imprisonment in an Istanbul court on charges of disseminating "organization propaganda" through her social media activity Mezopotamya News reported.

The judgement, which is based on Altay's social media posts, saw the announcement of the verdict postponed.

Altay, who had previously been detained at the Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen Airport on January 28, 2022, before being released, faced trial under the accusation of "membership in a terrorist organization". The first hearing was held in her absence, with her lawyer, Ozcan Kilic, representing her.

During the trial, the prosecution stated that their initial investigation requests were nonexistent and that the opinion on the merits was ready to be presented. The indictment, which was then presented, proposed punishment for Altay, emphasizing her social media shares as the basis of the criminal charges. Particular focus was on Altay’s retweet of a photograph featuring the slain Kurdish politician Sakine Cansiz with the caption "Resistance is life." The prosecution asserted that through this act, Altay propagated "organization propaganda", seeking punishment under the scope of TMK 53/1 - a clause involving deprivation of certain rights as a consequence of imprisonment.

During the latter part of the trial, Kilic was asked to present a defence regarding the merits of the case. He noted that there is an ongoing investigation regarding his client and pointed out an alleged procedural error. He emphasized that the social media post had been separated from a file accusing Altay of being an organization member, but was considered evidence in that file, which was then transferred to the current case. Kilic argued that this was not in line with the press law, indicating the possible applicability of statute of limitations, and requested Altay's acquittal.

In the final ruling, the court handed down a minimum sentence of one year imprisonment to Altay for "organization propaganda." This sentence was later increased to one year and six months considering the crime was committed via social media. However, acknowledging Altay's "good conduct", the court reduced the sentence to one year and three months. Moreover, the announcement of the sentence has been postponed, introducing a degree of uncertainty to the final outcome of the case.