21 November 2017 – PEN International is appalled by today’s judgment of Istanbul’s 28th Criminal Court against Cumhuriyet daily web editor Oğuz Güven, who received a three year and one month prison sentence on two separate terrorism charges. Güven was found guilty of ‘engaging with the FETÖ/PYD armed terror organisation’ and of ‘publishing statements that legitimize the PKK/KCK terror organisation’s violent methods or encourage applying those methods’, in relation to a tweet he published on Cumhuriyet’s account regarding the death of Denizli Chief Public Prosecutor Mustafa Alper.
The tweet at issue arguably characterised Alper’s death as an accident. It replicated the headline of an article on the latter’s murder, which read ‘The prosecutor who prepared the first FETÖ (Fethullah Gülen Terrorist Organisation) indictment was mowed down by a truck’. The phrasing ‘mowed down’ is commonly used in news stories about car accidents. Güven, who did not write the headline, took the tweet offline within 52 seconds after its publication.
Speaking to reporters after the ruling, Güven said the accusations are a sign of the times for Turkey in terms of press freedom and the judiciary, adding ‘All I am guilty of is a word that had been written by mistake. This word was deleted 52 seconds after it was posted … Our job as a journalist is to report news and share it.’
His lawyer, Tora Pekin, also demanded the journalist’s release, noting that even the filing of such a case violates the right to freedom of expression.
PEN International calls on the Turkish authorities to overturn the guilty verdict, and reiterates its call to urgently and unconditionally release Oğuz Güven and the other detained Cumhuriyet staff as they are being held solely in connection with their peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression.
For further information please contact Laurens Hueting at PEN International, Koops Mill Mews, 162-164 Abbey Street, London SE1 2AN, Tel.+ 44 (0) 20 7405 0338, email: Laurens.Hueting@pen-international.org