Turkish journalist faces 23 years in prison for insulting government officials

Istanbul, June 26, 2015–The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the insult charges filed against a Turkish reporter and calls on Turkish authorities to drop them immediately. The charges against Canan Coşkun, a reporter for the daily newspaper Cumhuriyet, were first reported by the Turkish media on Wednesday.

The charges stem from an article Coşkun wrote on February 19 about official corruption, according to local news reports. The article, called “Controversial real estate purchases by the judiciary,” alleged that Istanbul judges and prosecutors had benefited from significant discounts when buying luxury real estate.

Istanbul prosecutor Umut Tepe prepared an indictment against Coşkun for “insulting civil servants over their professional duties,” according to news reports. Coşkun’s lawyer, Bülent Utku, told CPJ that if convicted the journalist faces up to 23 years and four months in prison, as cumulative punishment for insulting the prosecutors and judges named in the article.

Utku said that prosecutors began a criminal investigation into Coşkun on the same day she published her article, but the indictment was issued on Monday. The first hearing of her trial is scheduled for November 12, Utku said.

“We call on Istanbul prosecutor Umut Tepe to immediately drop all charges against Canan Coşkun,” CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova said. “Libel is a civil matter. A criminal defamation prosecution in this case represents an abuse of power, a conflict of interest, and a violation of international norms.”

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