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Turkish reporter gets 20 months for breaching confidentiality

Turkish reporter Arzu Yıldız

A Turkish court has sentenced a reporter to 20 months in prison and stripped her of parental rights over breaching the confidentiality of a court case.

Arzu Yıldız was sued by the Turkish government in May 2015 after she published footage of the trial of four prosecutors who had issued orders to search Turkish MIT intelligence trucks which were en route to Syria in 2014, her lawyer, Alpdeğer Tanrıverdi, told Reuters on Wednesday.     

He added that Yıldız was stripped of the legal guardianship of her children according to an article of the country’s penal code which grants such rights to the state, although, “there are many cases in which the court does not execute this article of the penal code. They didn’t have to do it.” “This was an act of revenge,” Tanrıverdi noted.

Earlier in the month, two journalists were sentenced to at least five years in prison each for publishing footage of the MIT trucks.  

Editor-in-chief of Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet daily Can Dundar (L) and the newspaper bureau chief in Ankara Erdem Gul (R) at the Istanbul courthouse for their trial on April 22, 2016 (AFP)

Can Dundar, the editor-in-chief of Turkish daily Cumhuriyet, faced a jail term of five years and 10 months while the paper's Ankara bureau chief Erdem Gul was given a five-year prison sentence by the Istanbul 14th Court of Serious Crimes on May 6.

In late May last year, Cumhuriyet posted footage purportedly showing the trucks carrying weapons to Takfiri groups in Syria in January 2014. The Cumhuriyet video also purportedly showed trucks of the MIT being inspected by security officers.

At the time, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said the searching of the vehicles and its resulting media fanfare were all part of a plot to destabilize the Turkish government.

A demonstrator with his mouth covered, stands outside the Istanbul courthouse on April 1, 2016, where Can Dundar and Erdem Gul attend their trial. (AFP) 

Turkey has been under fire for clamping down on journalists since Erdogan came to power in 2014, after serving as a premier over a decade.

With dozens of journalists already put behind bars, activists say Erdogan has filed hundreds of other court cases against critics, including many journalists, for insulting him since he became president.

In 2015, nearly 800 Turkish journalists were sacked, 156 others were detained, and court cases were opened against 238 members of the press, according to the Republican People's Party deputy head, Sezgin Tanrıkulu.

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