Police in the southeastern province of Şanlıurfa on February 9, 2017, arrested Aslı Ceren Aslan, news editor for the pro-Kurdish biweekly newspaper Özgür Gelecek, her employer reported. The newspaper said that Aslan was reporting on developments along the Syrian border, particularly in the semi-autonomous Kurdish region of Rojava.
Security forces strip-searched Aslan twice and beat her, according to a report in the journalist’s paper, which cited her lawyer.
As of December 2018, the Turkish Embassy in Washington D.C. did not respond to CPJ’s emailed request for comment on claims that jailed journalists are mistreated.
A Şanlıurfa court on February 13 ordered Aslan to be held pending trial on charges of attempting to cross the border illegally, "propagandizing for a [terrorist] organization" on social media, and "being a member of a [terrorist] organization." The journalist denied the charges, the report said.
On November 10, 2017, Istanbul’s 14th Court for Serious Crimes sentenced Aslan to two years and six months in prison for the charge of "making propaganda for a [terrorist] organization," according to court records reviewed by CPJ.
According to court records, prosecutors alleged that specific articles in her paper spread propaganda for the PKK.
As of late 2018, the trial for the remaining charges was ongoing. Aslan’s lawyers had not returned CPJ’s calls requesting updates on the trial. As of late 2018, the only report CPJ could find about the trial was a December 2017 article on the pro-Kurdish news website, Yeni Demokrat Kadın (New Democratic Woman). The report said that during the first hearing on November 27, 2017, Aslan said that she tried to cross the border for journalistic purposes and pleaded not guilty to the charge of being a member of a terrorist group. Aslan said that her social media posts, of which the propaganda charge was based on, should be perceived as free expression, not propaganda.
Aslan is in Urfa Prison, according to news reports.