Turkey has freed a number of journalists who were given prison sentences by an Istanbul court yesterday for exposing the identity of an intelligence agent killed in Libya earlier this year.
Colonel Okan Altinay was purged from his position following the failed 2016 coup before being reassigned to the Turkish mission in Libya. He worked there as an agent for Turkey’s National Intelligence Organisation (MIT) to uphold Ankara’s support for the UN-backed Libyan government.
Altinay was reportedly killed in a bomb attack in the city of Tripoli in February. His body was returned to Turkey and buried quietly in his hometown of Aydin in the west of the country.
The six journalists – Aydin Keser, Ferhat Celik, Murat Agirel, Baris Pehlivan, Hulya Kilinc and Baris Terkoglu – were then arrested for exposing and violating state secrets regarding the intelligence agent’s mission and identity. They went on trial in June and sentenced yesterday.
Keser, Celik and Agirel, who work for Yeni Yasam news agency were each sentenced to four years and eight months’ imprisonment, while OdaTV’s editor-in-chief Baris Pehlivan and reporter Hulya Kilinc were sentenced to three years and nine months. The news director of OdaTV, Baris Terkoglu, was acquitted.
Following protests against their arrest and detention, however, Pehlivan, Kilinc and Agirel have all been released pending appeals, reported AFP.
Speaking to the judge in her defence earlier, Kilinc said: “What I have done is only journalism. I have been a journalist for 20 years. I have no intention to commit a crime.”