Summary: Hafiza Merkezi director sentenced to 18 months in prison for participation in freedom of speech campaign

Istanbul, 16th May 2017: Murat Çelikkan, co-director of SRT grantee Hafiza Merkezi, was today sentenced to 18 months in prison at the Istanbul Penal Court for his participation in the Özgür Gündem Editor-in-Chief on Watch campaign.

One of the main pro-Kurdish newspapers in Turkey, Özgür Gündem was shut down by the government last year for printing ‘terrorist propaganda’ and its editors were charged with ‘supporting and executing the decisions of a terrorist organization though not being a member of it’. Between May and August 2016 56 journalists and activists took part in the ‘Editor-in-Chief on Watch’ campaign, which was launched to support freedom of speech and freedom of the press and to avoid further legal action against Özgür Gündem’s editors. Of those who joined the campaign, 50 were prosecuted.

Çelikkan’s sentence was not reduced or deferred as ‘[he] didn’t show sufficient remorse with his attitudes in the trial’.

Professor Beyza Üstün, who also lent her support to the Editor-in-Chief on Watch campaign, was sentenced at the same time to 15 months in prison.

More information from Hafiza Merkezi’s website:

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