Three journalists get suspended sentences for ‘insulting’ Erdoğan

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Three journalists from daily Birgün were sentenced to 11 months in prison on Dec. 10 for allegedly insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, with the court later suspending the sentences.

Birgün coordinator Barış İnce, Editor-in-Chief Berkant Gültekin and Managing Editor Can Uğur on Dec. 10 received sentences of 11 months and 20 days in prison each for allegedly insulting Erdoğan in a news story on the front page of the daily’s Feb. 17 issue.

The court, however, postponed the prison sentence on the conviction that the defendants would not engage in further criminal activities, but ruled for the three to be on probation for one year.

“We back what we published on the front page,” said Gültekin at the court hearing.

Birgün said on Dec. 10 that a slogan could not be used as a pretext to file cases against people and arrest them.

“Two colleagues of mine, Can Dündar and Erdem Gül, were here in this building last week. I’m sending them my warm greetings,” Birgün coordinator İnce said in the previous court hearing on Dec. 1.

Dündar and Gül were arrested on terrorism charges due to daily Cumhuriyet’s coverage of a story on trucks that were bound for Syria with weapons. The trucks were reportedly owned by the Turkish National Intelligence Organization (MİT), Turkey’s state intelligence agency.

Dozens of lawsuits have been filed against journalists in Turkey for allegedly insulting government officials, while dozens of others have been sued on terrorism charges.

Today’s Zaman former Editor-in-Chief Bülent Keneş and daily Zaman columnist Sevgi Akarçeşme, meanwhile, received suspended prison sentences after they were sentenced to one year and two months and one year and five months in prison, respectively, for allegedly insulting Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu on Twitter.

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