On Saturday, Turkish Constitutional Court rejected the applications of six journalists in two separate cases concerning their imprisonment over their news reports on Libya.
Turkish Journalists Ferhat Çelik, Barış Pehlivan, Hülya Kılınç, Murat Ağırel, Aydın Keser, and Barış Terkoğlu were jailed in 2020 in a case related to their coverage of the funeral of an intelligence officer killed in Libya.
The Turkish journalists were accused of revealing state secrets and kept in pre-trial detention for several months over the charges. On September 9th, 2020, they were given jail terms by the Istanbul 34th Heavy Penal Court. However, they were released on the same day pending appeal.
In an application to the Constitutional Court, the Turkish journalists said that their rights to personal freedom and freedom of speech were violated. The top court however found their applications “inadmissible,” saying that the journalists’ arguments lacked “a foundation.”
The Turkish top court also gave a ruling with regards to the application of journalist Müyesser Yıldız, who was jailed in June 2020 for a period of five months concerning her reporting on Turkey’s military involvement in Libya.
The top court found Yıldız’s application “admissable” but said that there was no violation of her rights.
Appeals against the prison sentences for the Turkish journalists were rejected. The Istanbul 34th High Criminal Court sentenced Keser, Çelik and Ağırel to four years eight months 17 days, for “disclosing information and documents related to intelligence activities.”
Meanwhile, Pehlivan and Kılınç received three years and nine months in prison.
“The three years and nine months prison sentence I received was upheld for covering the funerals of our MIT two martyrs,” Pehlivan said
Ağırel noted, “I was tried because of news I shared about the two sons of the country who were martyred in Libya was approved.”
The journalists were tried under the State Intelligence Services and National Intelligence Organisation Law. They were arrested for the “disclosure of relevant information and documents.”