Aslı Ceren Aslan, the responsible managing editor of the leftist, pro-Kurdish Özgür Gelecek newspaper, was arrested on February 9, 2017, in the southeastern province of Şanlıurfa, on the border with Syria. Her newspaper said Aslan was in Şanlıurfa to cover developments in the neighboring country.

After four days in police custody, a Şanlıurfa court jailed her pending trial on charges of “border violation” and “membership in a terrorist organization.” Aslan denied both accusations. Her lawyer said Aslan was arrested while doing her job as a journalist and maintained she was charged with and imprisoned for terrorist group membership despite lack of evidence to that effect.

The lawyer, Kübra Gündüz, also said that Aslan was strip searched at the gendarmerie and police anti-terror stations.

Gündüz said Aslan had a number of cases against her due to her position at Özgür Gelecek as responsible managing editor. She said the court decision to jail Aslan pending trial was because of these existing cases.

Aslan was sent to Şanlıurfa Prison No. 2 pending trial.

Conviction in “propaganda” case

Aslan appeared before an Istanbul court on 2 July 2019 for the final hearing of a trial where she was accused of “disseminating propaganda for a terrorist group”. In her final defense statement, Aslan said the accusations in the case stemmed from her time as the responsible managing editor of Özgür Gelecek between November 2015 and November 2016. She said the news stories she is accused for were an exercising of the right to freedom of expression

Issuing its verdict at the end of the hearing, the 14th High Criminal Court of Istanbul convicted Aslan of “propaganda,” sentencing her to 6 years, 10 months and 15 days in prison over two social media posts from October 2016 and November 2016.

Aslan was released from prison in August 2019.

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