Turkey Convicts Wall Street Journal Reporter in Absentia

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“This was an unfounded criminal charge and wildly inappropriate conviction that wrongly singled out a balanced Wall Street Journal report,” Mr. Baker said in a statement. “The sole purpose of the article was to provide objective and independent reporting on events in Turkey, and it succeeded.”

Photo

Men reading newspapers in a hotel lobby on Istiklal Street in Turkey. The conviction of a Wall Street Journal reporter is the latest action in a crackdown against the press in the country.

Credit
Nicole Tung for The New York Times

The newspaper, published by Dow Jones & Company, a division of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., said that an appeal was underway.

“The notion that our reporter’s commendable and insightful work led to a criminal prosecution that has resulted in this wrongful conviction is intolerable,” Mr. Lewis said. “We have stood by Ms. Albayrak’s side for nearly two years as we have robustly pursued all available options to defend this baseless prosecution, and we will continue to stand with her as we seek to overturn this conviction.”

The ruling was handed down during the state of emergency put into effect by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan after a coup attempt in July 2016. A crackdown has led to the arrests of more than 50,000 people, including dozens of foreign citizens and 11 Americans.

In its global census last December, the Committee to Protect Journalists reported that Turkey was keeping 81 members of the media behind bars.

“We call on Turkish authorities not to contest Ayla Albayrak’s appeal and to drop all charges against her,” said Nina Ognianova, the committee’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator. “Dozens of journalists are imprisoned for their work in Turkey and this conviction is a signal that conditions for the press are continuing to deteriorate. Rather than dispensing justice, Turkey’s judicial system has become an instrument of persecution.”

The jailing of journalists working abroad for Western news organizations is rare. In Turkey, two British reporters working for Vice were held several days before they were released, but their Iraqi guide remained behind bars for months, said Courtney Radsch, an advocacy director at the Committee to Protect Journalists.

In its statement, The Journal said that websites unaffiliated with The Journal or Ms. Albayrak had published reports in Turkish that had selectively quoted and distorted the article. As a result, The Journal said, Turkey had accused her of engaging in terrorist propaganda.

“Given the current climate in Turkey, this appalling decision shouldn’t have come as a surprise to me, but it did,” Ms. Albayrak said in a statement. Ms. Albayrak has reported out of The Journal’s Istanbul bureau since 2010 but was in New York at the time of the trial. “The decision shows the extent to which the authorities did not want the operations that were going on in Turkey’s southeast to be reported on. It also shows yet again that the international media is not immune to the ongoing press crackdown in Turkey.”

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