Turkish opposition journalist sentenced to three years over tweet

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A Turkish court sentenced a journalist from opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet to three years in prison on Tuesday on a charge of spreading terrorist propaganda over a tweet which the paper briefly posted in May, state media said.

The newspaper’s online editor, Oguz Guven, was accused of discrediting Ankara’s fight against supporters of the US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, who the government says orchestrated a coup attempt last year.

The tweet had referred to a prosecutor being killed in a road accident with the expression that he had been “mowed down by a truck”. Cumhuriyet, long a pillar of the secularist establishment, says the tweet was replaced within one minute by one saying the prosecutor “died awfully in a truck accident”.

The prosecutor who died had prepared an indictment against Gulen’s network. The cleric denies any involvement in the coup attempt.

State-run Anadolu agency said Guven was sentenced to three years and one month in jail. He had been remanded in custody in May but was released in June pending trial.

More than a dozen Cumhuriyet correspondents and executives are being tried in a separate case in which prosecutors say the paper was taken over by supporters of Gulen and used to target Erdogan and veil the actions of militant groups.

Prosecutors are seeking up to 43 years in jail for the paper’s staff, accused of targeting Erdogan through “asymmetric war methods.” They have denied the charges.

Since the failed coup in July 2016, Turkey has jailed more than 50,000 people and closed more than 130 media outlets, raising concerns among Western allies about deteriorating rights and freedoms.