Turkey: Kurdish Editor Kursun Sentenced to 166 Years in Jail (Updated)


A Diyarbakir court convicted Vedat Kursun, the former editor of Azadiya Welat, Turkey’s only Kurdish-language daily on 103 counts of propaganda for a terrorist organization (the PKK) and membership in an illegal organization. Kursun was sentenced to 166 years and six months in jail, receiving the maximum sentence of 12 years and 8 months for alleged membership in the PKK.

According to the Diyarbakir court, publishing reports and photographs of PKK members in the 103 issues printed during Kursun’s time as the editor of Azadiya Welat constitute propaganda for the PKK. Kursun was convicted under article 6-2 of the Anti-Terrorism Law, which states that reporters can be sentenced to three years in prison for “any dissemination of the statements and communiqués of terrorist organisations”. In addition, he was convicted under article 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Law, which states “anyone carrying out an action in the name of an illegal organisation must be punished as a member of that organisation.” This allows the staunchly nationalistic Turkish judiciary to label journalists as terrorists.

The persecutor in the case claimed that using the terms “Kurdistan”, “guerrilla” and protesting against the conditions in the prison where PKK leader Ocalan is held constitute propaganda for the organization.

Kursun is currently serving a three year sentence that he was handed down this March.

For more, please read our report: Turkey’s Judiciary Continues Its Persecution of Kurdish Media

Updated to reflect new information about the sentencing from Bianet.