Turkish journalist sentenced to six years in prison on terrorism charges

Dozens of journalists have been imprisoned since the 2016 coup attempt in Turkey

FILE PHOTO: Pigeons fly over the Taksim Square during a nation-wide weekend curfew which was imposed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Istanbul, Turkey December 5, 2020. REUTERS/Murad Sezer/File Photo
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A Turkish court on Monday sentenced a journalist to more than six years in jail for "membership of a terror group", a judicial source said.

Aysegul Dogan, who was programme coordinator at the now-shut IMC TV, was convicted in the Kurdish-majority city of Diyarbakir in the southeast over her contacts with the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Congress (DTK).

The group is accused of links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

Turkey and its Western allies designate the PKK a terror group. It has waged an insurgency against the state since 1984 in which tens of thousands of people have been killed.

The court sentenced Dogan to six years and three months in jail. A lawyer for the journalist told AFP that they would appeal the verdict.

Dozens of journalists have been jailed after the failed July 2016 coup aimed at unseating President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and blamed by Ankara on US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen.

Critical media outlets have been shut down by the authorities including prominent pro-Kurdish television channel IMC TV in the wake of the coup bid.

The latest court ruling sparked criticism among rights advocates.

Turkish media rights group P24 tweeted the conviction with the hashtag in English, #JournalismIsNotACrime.

Turkey is considered one of the world's leading jailer of journalists, and is ranked 154 out of 180 countries on a Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.