Turkey Sentences Journalist Aysenur Parildak to 7.5 Years in Prison

A Turkish court has sentenced journalist Aysenur Parildak to 7 years and 6 months in prison on charges of being “a member of an armed terrorist organization” for using an encrypted messaging app and posting a couple of critical tweets.

The 14th Ankara High Criminal initially ruled for 9 years in prison sentence over her use of an encrypted messaging app as well as some of her tweets. The judge then reduced her sentence by 1.5 years for good behavior during the court process.

Ms. Parildak, a former reporter for now-defunct Zaman newspaper, has been held in prison for 16 months. She was arrested in the aftermath of the failed coup last summer over a dozen of other journalists in one of the largest crackdown on media members in one single operation.

Ms. Parildak, who suffered sexual assault and solitary confinement during pre-trial detention in police custody last year, rejected during her defense before the court that her tweets contain incriminating content. She said she was on trial for working for Zaman newspaper.

During a June hearing this summer, the court first ruled for her release, but immediately reversed its decision after pressure from pro-government media outlets.

Ms. Parildak received an award for journalism during the summer from a pro-freedom institution in Norway while in prison. Over 150 journalists are still behind bars in Turkey, making the country the world leader in the number of jailed journalists.

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