Turkey sentences WSJ reporter to prison for spreading ‘terrorist propaganda’

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A Wall Street Journal reporter has been sentenced to prison by a Turkish court for allegedly aiding a minority separatist group with her reporting, according to the newspaper.

The court sentenced Ayla Albayrak to two years and one month in prison for engaging in terrorist propaganda through her article on the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an outlawed group representing the Kurds, an ethnic minority primarily located in the east and southeast of the country.

An April 2016 indictment said that the reporter had violated antiterrorism laws in her coverage of the conflict between the PKK and Turkish forces in the city of Silopi. Albayrak, who holds dual Turkish and Finnish citizenship, is currently in New York and will seek to appeal the sentence, the Journal reported. 

Her August 2015 report included an interview with a person who described herself as a member of what the Turkish government designates the youth unit of the PKK, the Patriotic Revolutionary Youth Movement. 

Both the reporter and Wall Street Journal Editor-in-Chief Gerard Baker have defended the article as a fair and unbiased assessment of the conflict in the Turkish region, saying that the charges are completely without merit. Albayrak previously told the Turkish court that she had not offered any support for the group in her reporting. 

Albayrak also interviewed a Turkish official and local people at a time when she said that the government was bearing down on the Kurdish-majority region.

The sentencing comes as tensions between Turkey and the U.S. are high, following the suspension of visas to Turkey after the arrest of a Turkish employee at the U.S. consulate in Istanbul on terror charges.  



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