Journalists accused of revealing secrets on trial in Turkey

ISTANBUL (AP) — Seven journalists went on trial on Wednesday, accused of revealing state secrets for their reports on the funeral of an intelligence officer who was killed in Libya. Three of the defendants were released from custody pending the outcome of the trial.

The journalists from Odatv news website, the pro-Kurdish newspaper Yeni Yasam and the nationalist daily Yenicag have been charged with violating national intelligence laws and of revealing secret information. If convicted, they face between eight and 19 years in prison.

Odatv Editor-in-Chief Baris Pehlivan, editor Baris Terkoglu, reporter Hulya Kilinc and Yeni Yasam newspaper’s Editor-in-Chief Ferhat Celik and News Editor Aydin Keser were charged over their reports on the intelligence officer who died in February as well as Turkey’s military activity in Libya.

Murat Agirel, a columist for Yenicag, and Erk Acarer, a columnist for the left-leaning BirGun newspaper, are accused of revealing the intelligence official’s identity on social media. Acarer is abroad and will be tried in absentia.

Eren Ekinci, an employee of the municipality where the intelligence officer’s funeral took place, is accused of providing information to the Odatv reporter.

The prosecutors have accused the defendants, who have been held in pre-trial detention since March, of acting “in a systematic and coordinated manner”. Critics of the case say the intelligence officer was previously identified during discussions in Turkey’s Parliament and that his name and involvement in Libya were known.

People hold placards that read ‘Murat Agirel is not alone’ and ‘We want justice for Murat’ outside the courthouse, in Istanbul. PHOTO: AP