A Turkish court has sentenced journalist Ayşegül Doğan to six years and three months in prison solely over her journalistic activities, adding her to the long list of journalists that are handed prison terms over bogus charges in Turkey.
The Diyarbakır Ninth Heavy Penal Court handed the prison term on Dec. 7 to Doğan for "being a member of a terrorist organization," as the court also ruled for the continuation of the judicial control decision imposed on her until the sentence is finalized.
On Oct. 7, the prosecutor gave his opinions on Doğan's case, based on the interviews she conducted and meetings she attended within the scope of her journalistic activities. The prosecutor demanded that Doğan be handed up to 15 years in prison for the crime of "being a member of an armed organization," claiming that Doğan was active in the Democratic Society Congress (DTK).
Turkish authorities accuse the DTK of being affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) although it has been established according to laws and in the past, many members of the government and even members of intelligence agencies attended their meetings to discuss the “peace process” which collapsed in 2015. The organization faces frequent pressure from the government.
Doğan also worked as the program coordinator for the shuttered İMC TV, an opposition channel that was closed by a government decree during the country's emergency rule following the July 15, 2016 failed coup attempt.
The charges Doğan face are based on her interviews with DTK members and group events that she attended as a part of her journalistic activities with the channel.
Doğan's Ahmet Özmen, Mehmet Emin Aktar and Emel Ataktürk say that she was registered as a DTK member by mistake and she requested for the registration to be erased.
During the hearing of the case that Doğan was tried over "forming and leading an armed terrorist organization" on Dec. 7, the lawyers refuted the allegations and said that all evidence against the journalist, including phone recordings, were obtained by illegal means.
The evidence doesn't support the claim that Doğan is a member of a terrorist organization, the lawyers also said.
"The evidence proves that our client is not a member of the DTK. Besides, she attended all the DTK meetings as a journalist," Ataktürk told the court.
Özmen said that the analysis of the voice recordings obtained illegally showed that they don't belong to Doğan.
"She has repeatedly said that journalism and politics are different areas and that she isn't a member of any party," he said.
Commenting on the ruling, Özmen said that it shows what the judiciary has become in Turkey.
"It's impossible to handle this ruling from a legal perspective when voice recordings were determined to be not belonging to her and when there is no evidence that points to terrorist organization membership," he said.
"Unfortunately, this ruling shows what the judiciary has come to. I hope the appeals court will overturn it," the lawyer added.