Turkey: Dozens rally for trial of 7 journalists over coverage of intelligence agent’s death

Dozens of people demonstrated for free press in front of Istanbul's Cayglayan Justice Palace on Wednesday, as seven journalists went on trial under charges of disclosing state secrets in their coverage of the death of an intelligence officer killed in Libya. The eight defendants in the case — seven journalists and one municipal worker — have been accused of disclosing the identities of a member of the National Intelligence Organisation (MIT). If convicted, they face sentences ranging between eight and 19 years in prison. Pending the outcome of the trial, three of the defendants were released from custody. The eighth defendant, a municipal worker in the town of Akhisar, has been accused of providing the journalists pictures from the funeral of the deceased intelligence agency officer. Demonstrators gathered in front of the court wearing masks covered by X's and holding slogans in support of Yenicag newspaper reporter Murat Agirel. «A lot of journalists have been tried, criminalised, put under pressure,» said journalist Mehves Edin. «We stand together to prevent journalists from being imprisoned in this way and prosecuted on various charges.» «It is very clear that there is a problem of justice in our country, whose institutional structure has been destroyed during the ruling AK party,» said IYI party politician Bugra Kavuncu. The Istanbul court reportedly ruled Wednesday that defendants Baris Terkoglu, from OdaTV, and Ferhat Celik and Aydin Keser, from Yeni Yasam newspaper, should be released. Judiciary independence and press freedom have been a topic of contention in Turkey, particularly since a crackdown following the 2016 failed coup attempt.

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