Turkey arrests journalist for revealing state secrets: Lawyer

Reuters , Friday 12 Jun 2020

Turkish intervention in Libya
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a news conference with Libya's Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj at the Presidential Palace in Ankara, Turkey, June 4, 2020. (Reuters)

A Turkish court jailed a prominent opposition journalist from an online news outlet pending trial on accusations that she revealed state secrets in two articles about Ankara's military involvement in Libya, her lawyer said on Friday.

Muyesser Yildiz, the Ankara news editor for the OdaTV online news portal, was detained on Monday and formally arrested on Thursday following her questioning.

One article published in December questioned which Turkish commanders met Khalifa Haftar, the commander of the Libyan National Army, which is fighting the internationally recognised Government of National Accord of Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj, backed by Turkey.

The second article, from January, gave details about a military officer who was sent to Libya to oversee Turkey's involvement there.

Yildiz was initially detained on espionage charges but this was later changed to revealing state secrets, lawyer Erhan Tokatli told Reuters.

"If the articles threaten the security of this country so much, they should have blocked access to them," he said.

Ismail Dukel, Ankara representative of broadcaster TELE1, who was also detained along with Yildiz and questioned, was released, state-owned Anadolu news agency said. An army sergeant detained with them was also jailed, it said without elaborating.

OdaTV, an online news outlet, has been critical of President Tayyip Erdogan's government. Turkey ranks among the top jailers of journalists across the world.

Erol Onderoglu, Turkey representative for Reporters Without Borders (RSF), said such cases damage Turkey's international reputation and that the detention of journalists aimed to silence criticism.

"Turkey, which is one of the biggest jailer of journalists in the world, needs to make peace with criticism, transparency and the values of an open society," he said.

Critics say Erdogan has used a failed 2016 coup as a pretext to clamp down on dissent and strengthen his grip on power, a charge Ankara denies. It says the measures are necessary to safeguard national security.

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