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Journalist jailed for 7 years on terror charges after criticising Turkish state

THE editor of a left-wing newspaper has been jailed for seven years by an Istanbul court after being convicted of terrorism charges relating to articles and social media posts critical of the Turkish state.

Asli Ceren Aslan, who edits Ozgur Gelecek, was sentenced for supposedly spreading propaganda for a terrorist organisation after publishing reports of war crimes committed during Turkish military operations in the largely Kurdish south-eastern towns of Cizre and Nusaybin in 2015 and 2016.

The two cities were flattened in an offensive ostensibly targeting the banned Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) during an uprising against Turkish oppression.

A military curfew remained in place for months, with the cities effectively under siege, while scores of people were arrested and tried on terrorism charges.

In one of the most notorious incidents, 158 men, women and children were killed in Cizre after taking shelter in three basements.

They remained there for about 20 days with no food, water or medical supplies, drinking their own urine to survive.

Despite their desperate pleas for help, Turkish security services poured petrol into the basements and burnt the occupants alive.

To prevent investigations, the area was concreted over and journalists, humanitarian organisations and United Nations representatives were kept away from the scene.

Ms Aslan was initially detained in February 2017 in Urfa province, on the border with Syria, and charged with membership of a banned organisation, border violations and spreading terrorist propaganda.

The LGBT and women’s rights activist was stripped naked and searched by Turkish security forces, who beat and tortured her during interrogations.

She was jailed for two years and released in July last year.

During her latest hearing, she warned that “freedom of the press no longer exists” in Turkey and that the judiciary is no longer independent.

The Turkish state links Ozgur Gelecek to the Communist Party of Turkey Marxist-Leninist, which is on a list of 12 proscribed terrorist organisations.

The country remains the largest jailer of journalists in the world, with some 200 media workers behind bars, a third of the global total.

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