Coalition for Women in Journalism condemns jail sentence against journalist Nazan Sala

The Coalition for Women in Journalism has condemned the jail sentence against the journalist Nazan Sala for working for the broadcaster Roj TV, which was closed ten years ago, and has called on the Turkish judiciary to revise the decision.

The Coalition For Women In Journalism (CFWIJ) said the prison sentence to Nazan Sala is unacceptable and urged the Turkish authorities that journalism is not a crime, and demanded the decision given to Nazan be annulled.

At the fourth hearing of the so called "helicopter torture case" last Thursday, the Van 5th High Criminal Court acquitted all journalists of the charge of ‘being a member of an armed organization’. However, the court convicted Nazan of a propaganda for a terrorist organization charge and sentenced her to a 15-month jail term. Her jail term has been suspended.  

 Sala was sentenced for her work for the broadcaster Roj TV, which closed ten years ago, for "terror propaganda". The journalist made a statement at the hearing drawing attention to the year of the crime that was considered in the case file. She stated that she continued her profession as a freelance journalist in 2007. “When a newsroom called me, I was reporting the news. I am a journalist and this is what we do. I have no link to the TV channel mentioned in the indictment,” she said. While working as a freelance journalist, she said she did not only report to RojTV. 

Following Nazan, her lawyer Ekin Yeter underlined that the journalist had not even given testimony regarding the alleged crime on the specified date mentioned in the indictment. Stating that the new lawsuit brought against the journalist aims to expand the case file, the lawyer said, "There is no detail about how my client was linked to RojTV, and also about the news content."

Nazan’s lawyer Veysi Atay also said that she should also be acquitted of the propaganda charge. Veysi Atay added that there was no crime in the social media posts mentioned in the indictment about the journalist. 

The court ruled that all five journalists, Nazan Sala, Şehriban Abi from JinNews, Adnan Bilen and Cemil Uğur from Mezopotamya Agency and Zeynep Durgut, be acquitted of the charges of membership of a terrorist organisation. However, convicted Sala to 15 months in prison. 

On October 6, 2020, journalists Abi and Sala were detained during the raid at the Mesopotamia Agency’s Van office. Four days later, they were sent to prison for reporting about two Kurdish villagers named Servet Turgut and Osman Şiban, who were tortured and thrown from a national army helicopter. One of the victims of the torture, Servet Turgut, died from his injuries on September 30.

The indictment against journalists Abi and Sala was completed on 16 February 2021, and was officially accepted by the court. The first hearing of the case was held on 2 April 2021, and the journalists were released after 175 days.

In the meantime, another lawsuit was filed against journalist Nazan Sala as a result of an investigation launched 12 years ago.