Journalist Barış Pehlivan imprisoned for fifth time over Libya coverage

Journalist Barış Pehlivan on Aug. 15 was jailed for the fifth time on the grounds that one of his articles violated his probation from a previous lawsuit concerning his coverage of the death of an intelligence officer in Libya.

Pehlivan (center) issues a statement before entering prison.

Duvar English

Daily Cumhuriyet columnist Barış Pehlivan on Aug. 15 was re-imprisoned for the fifth time due to the case related to his reporting on the fatalities of Turkish intelligence officers in Libya during 2020.

Pehlivan was arrested on March 6, 2020 along with four other journalists for covering the funeral of a National Intelligence Organization (MİT) officer who died in Libya, and was sentenced to three years and nine months in prison for disclosing confidential intelligence documents.

After six months in prison, he was released on Sep. 9, 2020 on probation, provided that he is not subject to another court case.

A defamation lawsuit was later filed against Pehlivan for a column he had written in 2023, using the coded name of Court of Cassation member Ömer Faruk Aydıner. Pehlivan's probation was revoked in April 2023, paving the way for him to be imprisoned.

The journalist previously said that the main reason of these attacks was the book he wrote about former Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu, which was published in the same year.

"I am considered more dangerous than a murder convict or a rape convict. I am not benefiting from the probation law passed by the Parliament in July. What I have done is the guarantee of what I will do; I will continue to do journalism inside," Pehlivan said before entering the prison. 

Pehlivan's probation request went unanswered and he was also excluded from the regulation issued in July that prevents convicts who were granted furlough during the Covid-19 pandemic period from being re-incarcerated.

The journalist is expected to spend eight months in prison if his probation application is not accepted.

His lawyer mentioned the threats received by the journalist who will remain in open prison and said that they had applied to the prison administration to take the necessary security measures.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) stated that Pehlivan was the 13th journalist arrested this year.

What happened?

The charges related to articles and social media posts published shortly after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said in February 2020 that Turkey had "several martyrs" in Libya.

Turkey has provided military support and training to Libya's internationally recognized Government of National Accord, and helped it fight off an assault lasting several months on the capital Tripoli by eastern Libyan forces led by Khalifa Haftar.

The defendants denied the accusations, saying they had been doing their jobs as journalists. Their sentences were finalized after an appeals court rejected their application on Jan. 28, 2022.