Turkish woman jailed for ‘terror propaganda’ in TV phone-in

The court in Istanbul acquitted the show's producer Kadir Turnali and 38 people who had supported Celik's comments. (Screenshot via Canali)

A Turkish court on Wednesday handed a woman who phoned into a top television talk show to complain about military operations in the Kurdish-dominated southeast a one year and three-month sentence for "terror propaganda."

The woman, Ayse Celik from Diyarbakir in southeast Turkey, in early 2016 phoned into the Beyaz Show on Kanal D to raise alarm over the human cost of the relentless military crackdown on Kurdish militants.

While jailing her, the court in Istanbul acquitted the show's producer Kadir Turnali and 38 people who had supported Celik's comments, the state-run Anadolu news agency said.

The security forces have since 2015 pressed a campaign against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in the Kurdish-majority southeast, which the government says is aimed at flushing out militants but activists claim has killed civilians.

In its ruling, the court in the Bakirkoy district of Istanbul said that Celik had sought to legitimise the violent methods of the PKK.

In the phone-in, Ayse Celik presented herself as a teacher although this has been doubted by state media.

"Are you aware of what is happening in the east of Turkey?" she asked.

"People are fighting hunger and thirst, in particular the children. Please be sensitive and do not remain silent," she said.

The channel is owned by the Dogan Group, one of Turkey's biggest conglomerates with substantial media interests also including the Hurriyet daily and CNN-Turk channel.

Kanal D and the show's star anchorman Beyazit Ozturk all apologised for the comments.

The case had polarised opinion in Turkey, with the contribution widely praised by Kurdish activists but condemned by nationalists as treachery.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:50 - GMT 06:50
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