The Supreme Court of Appeals upheld a lower court’s verdict that sentenced Meltem Oktay, a former reporter for the shuttered pro-Kurdish Dicle News Agency (DİHA), and fellow reporter Uğur Akgül to four years in prison on charges of producing propaganda for the outlawed Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) in connection with material they published to social media websites, according to an April 19, 2017 Dihaber report.
Police first detained the journalists on April 11, 2016, during dawn raids on their homes in Nusaybin, a city in Mardin Province, southeastern Turkey, according to the indictment.
At that time, Nusaybin was under curfew due to clashes between rebel Kurds, whom Turkey considered terrorists affiliated with the PKK, and Turkish security forces. Prosecutors scheduled to question the two journalists on April 13, 2016, considered Nusaybin’s courthouse to be unsafe, according to a DİHA report. Prosecutors instead questioned the pair in a makeshift court on the top floor of a hospital in Nusaybin on April 14, DİHA reported. Police cited as evidence their journalistic work and posts to social media websites, the news agency said. A Nusaybin court ordered Oktay to be jailed and released Akgül pending trial. Both faced charges of being a member of a [terrorist] organization” and making propaganda for a [terrorist] organization” according to press reports.
At the second court hearing on August 18, 2016, a Mardin court released Oktay, according to press reports.
On November 25, 2016, the journalists were convicted and sentenced to four years in prison on charges of producing propaganda for the PKK in connection with material they published to social media websites, the daily Özgürlükçü Demokrasi reported. The court dismissed the charge of “membership of a [terrorist] organization.” The journalists were freed pending appeal.
Police in the western province of Edirne detained Oktay on April 3, 2017, after the sentence was upheld on appeal, according to a Dihaber report from April 19, 2017. She was sent to Gebze Prison for Women in the western province of Kocaeli.