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Tougher Political Climate in Turkey Taking Toll on Journalists

Reporter Irfan Aktan quoted Piling, a member of the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, a Kurdish rebel group that has been fighting the Turkish state since 1984, in a long article he published last September in a Turkish magazine about divisions within the PKK between hawks and doves.

"He points to the hand grenades strapped to his belt. ‘There is no point in talking. These should do the talking,'" Aktan wrote, quoting Piling.

In early June, an Istanbul court found Aktan guilty of "making propaganda for a terror organization" and sentenced him first to 18 months. Later, because he had been "well-behaved" in court, the sentenced was reduced to 15 months.

Aktan's use of Piling's statements, the judge ruled -- along with quotes from another PKK member, and mention of a pro-PKK magazine -- constituted a "clear incitement to violence." The court ordered the magazine that published the piece, Express, to pay a fine of 16,000 lira (about $10,000).

"Citing other people's opinions: isn't that what journalism is all about?" Aktan asked rhetorically, expressing "surprise" at the verdict.

To read the full story

Nicolas Birch specializes in Turkey, Iran and the Middle East.

Tougher Political Climate in Turkey Taking Toll on Journalists

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