Renowned lawyer Eren Keskin and Özgür Gündem managing editor Reyhan Çapan were sentenced to 7,5 years in prison

Renowned lawyer Eren Keskin, who served as the co-editor-in-chief of the shuttered pro-Kurdish Özgür Gündem daily, and the newspaper’s former managing editor Reyhan Çapan were sentenced to a total of 7,5 years in prison on March 29. Both Keskin and Çapan were sentenced on charges of “insulting the President” and “denigrating Turkishness” in separate trials held at the Istanbul Courthouse, Mezopotamya Agency reported.

In the trial heard at the 2nd Heavy Penal Court of Istanbul, Keskin and Çapan were sentenced to 2 years and 3 months in prison each for “denigrating Turkishness”. The accusations were based on three newspaper articles: An article entitled “Silence is massacre, resisting is victory” published on November 21, 2015; an article entitled “Call from Nisebin and Gever: Everywhere to rise up against genocidal attacks” published on November 22, 2015; and a third article entitled “Êdi bese” published on 25 November, 2015.

In a trial heard at the 2nd Penal Court of First Instance Istanbul, Keskin and Çapan were sentenced to 5 years and 3 months in prison each for “insulting the President.” Along with Keskin and Çapan, former co-editor-in-chief Hüseyin Aykol received a suspended prison sentence of 1 year, 3 months and 12 days while reporter Ersin Çaksu received a suspended prison sentence of 11 months and 20 days. Accusations were based on several news reports and articles, including the article entitled “We won’t forget these pictures” published on December 27, 2015, another article published the same day entitled “Three members of DEM-GENÇ [Federation of Democratic Youth Associations] arrested” and another article entitled “Shows target, calling for treason” published on December 30, 2015.

In a separate trial, Özgür Gündem columnist Ayşe Batumlu also received a suspended prison sentence of 5 months.

Keskin, known for her engagement in the Kurdish cause especially in the 1990s, said she added her name voluntarily as an act of support for Özgür Gündem’s right to inform. “I considered the decision as being completely contrary to the international treaties undersigned by Turkey,” Keskin told broadcaster Artı TV. Keskin faces over 140 trials for her legal work and human rights advocacy.

The rulings came a day after police had raided the Istanbul office and printing house of Özgürlükçü Demokrasi, a pro-Kurdish newspaper established after Özgür Gündem’s closure by emergency decree on August 2016. Keskin also faces aggravated life imprisonment, along with Turkish writer Aslı Erdoğan, linguist Necmiye Alpay and former editor-in-chief İnan Kızılkaya in a separate trial launched against Özgür Gündem workers, members of Board of Advisors and supporters following the closure of the newspaper.