Ragıp Duran, Ayşe Düzkan, Mehmet Ali Çelebi, Hüseyin Bektaş and Hüseyin Aykol sentenced to a total of 9 years 9 months behind bars

Journalists Ragıp Duran, Hüseyin Aykol, Mehmet Ali Çelebi, Ayşe Düzkan and writer Hüseyin Bektaş on January 16 were sentenced to prison for participating in a solidarity campaign for the shuttered pro-Kurdish Özgür Gündem daily.

The 13th High Criminal Court in İstanbul convicted all five journalists for spreading “propaganda for a terrorist organization” at the end of the seventh hearing of the case, while the court increased the penalty by at least half in each of the sentences.

Çelebi and Aykol were represented at the court by their lawyer Özcan Kılıç while Düzkan was represented by her lawyer Yeşinil Yeşilyurt. The panel rejected Kılıç’s request to merge the case file with another case before the 23rd High Criminal Court, where Özgür Gündem Responsible Managing Editor İnan Kızılkaya is on trial.

Aykol was initially sentenced to two years in prison while Duran, Düzkan, Çelebi and Bektaş were each sentenced to one year of imprisonment. The court then increased the penalties by half on grounds that “the crime had been committed through press.” As a result, Duran, Düzkan, Çelebi and Bektaş were each sentenced to one year and six months in prison while Aykol’s sentence was increased to three years. Aykol’s sentence was later increased by another nine months on account of “the crime to have been committed successively.” The five journalists were sentenced to a total of nine years and nine months of imprisonment.

The panel said it was not granting any remissions in the sentences since “none of the defendants were sufficiently remorseful” during the hearings.