A Turkish court sentenced Wall Street Journal reporter Ayla Albayrak in absentia to two years plus one month in jail, convicting her of making propaganda on behalf of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in one of her articles.
Albayrak is convicted of spreading PKK propaganda in her 2015 article, titled “Urban Warfare Escalates in Turkey’s Kurdish-Majority Southeast.”
“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,” Albayrak told her colleague at WSJ. “It also shows yet again, that the international media is not immune to the ongoing press crackdown in Turkey.”
WSJ’s editor-in-chief Gerard Baker said: “This was an unfounded criminal charge and wildly inappropriate conviction that wrongly singled out a balanced Wall Street Journal report.”
Meanwhile Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) also condemned the conviction with the watchdog’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator Nina Ognianova remarking: “The conviction of Ayla in Turkey is a very worrying sign and an escalation of the crackdown on the press.”
Turkey has arrested at least 302 journalists since the last year’s abortive coup, thanks to which the government has broadened terror charges under emergency rule. Turkey currently keeps some 185 of those journalists in jail as the remaining have been released pending trial.