A Turkish court on Tuesday sentenced Wall Street Journal (WSJ) [official website] reporter Ayla Albayrak in absentia to 25 months in prison for propaganda charges [Reuters report].
The conviction underlying the sentence comes as a result of Albayrak’s 2015 story “Urban Warfare Escalates in Turkey’s Kurdish-Majority Southeast” [WSJ report], which Turkish authorities claimed was a violation of Article 7(2) [text, PDF] of Turkey’s Anti-Terror Law. The article described the continued conflict in Silopi, Turkey, “between Turkish security forces and militants from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).” Turkey, the US and EU consider the PKK to be a terrorist organization [materials].
WSJ condemned the charges,conviction and sentence, asserting that Albayrak’s report was unbiased and balanced. Albayrak’s conviction is the latest in a series of criminal prosecutions of media figures in Turkey, which has already led to arrests of nearly 50,000 journalists, including 11 Americans [NY Times report]. Among others, WSJ publisher William Lewis commented on the conviction, stating:
The notion that our reporter’s commendable and insightful work led to a criminal prosecution that has resulted in this wrongful conviction is intolerable. . . 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.
Albayrak, currently in New York, indicated that she intends to appeal immediately [WSJ report].