Kenan Karavil

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Turkish radio journalist Kenan Karavil is serving a 25-year sentence after being convicted of “being a member of a terrorist organization,” a charge related to his outlet’s pro-Kurdish stance. The journalist has spent more than a decade behind bars and has no further opportunity to appeal his conviction.

Karavil, editor-in-chief of the pro-Kurdish radio station Radyo Dünya in the southern province of Adana, served more than three years in prison before being convicted on charges of being a member of the banned Union of Communities in Kurdistan, or KCK, and the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK.

As evidence, authorities cited news programs that Karavil produced, his meetings with members of the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party, and his wiretapped telephone conversations with colleagues, listeners, and news sources, his lawyer, Vedat Özkan, told CPJ. In one phone conversation, Karavil discussed naming a program "Those Who Imagine the Island," the lawyer said. He said the indictment considered this illegal propaganda because it referred to the imprisonment of PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan, who was being held in a prison on İmralı Island.

In a January 2012 letter to media outlets, Karavil said authorities questioned him about the station’s ownership and the content of its programming. Court officials refused to allow Karavil to give statements in his native Kurdish language, Özkan said.

In January 2013, the Eighth Court of Serious Crimes in Adana Province sentenced Karavil to 25 years in prison, Özkan told CPJ. In October 2014, Özkan said the Supreme Court of Appeals had upheld the sentence.

Özkan told CPJ that Karavil filed an appeal with Turkey’s Constitutional Court in 2014, but the Constitutional Court and European Court of Human Rights both rejected the journalist’s appeals. The journalist has no other avenue to appeal, according to the lawyer.

In September 2021, Özkan told CPJ that he has not had the chance to visit his client for a long time, but he had not heard of any problems with Karavil’s health or of any abuses in detention. The lawyer said there had been no change to his legal status as of 2021. 

CPJ emailed the Turkish Ministry of Justice in October 2021 for comment, but did not receive any reply.