Senior EU politician calls for ECtHR involvement in KeneI’s case

Co-chair of the Greens Group in the European Parliament (EP) Rebecca Harms has strongly condemned a prison sentence handed down to Todayand’s Zaman Editor-in-Chief Bandulent Kenei for allegedly insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in one of his Twitter posts, saying that the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) must be involved in Keneiand’s case as well as those of other journalists.
Kenei was given a suspended prison sentence of 21 months by an Ankara court last week. The ruling was made public on Tuesday. Describing the prison sentence given to Kenei as and”proving that there is no justice in Turkey for journalists who criticize President Erdogan,and” Harms told Todayand’s Zaman: and”This is a court ruling fulfilling the will of the president. Nearly two years in prison for a tweet is a scandalous decision which must be strongly condemned. The European Court of Human Rights must be involved in this and in other similar cases.and”
Pressure on journalists has been rapidly increasing in Turkey over the past several years. It has almost become a daily occurrence for Erdogan and Justice and Development Party (AK Party) officials to sue journalists either for their reports or simply because of tweets they dislike. Many journalists are facing terrorism charges or charges related to insulting of state officials.
Another European politician, Sir Graham Watson, president of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) Party in Europe, also voiced his uneasiness and condemnation of the prison sentence handed down to Kenei. and”21 months in prison for a Tweet considered libellous by President Erdogan?! It did not even mention his name! Turkey needs free speech!and” wrote Watson from his Twitter account on Wednesday. The Ankara 14th Penal Court of First Instance ruled last week that a Twitter post Kenei wrote in July of last year constituted an andquotinsultandquot against then-Prime Minister Erdogan.
andquotThankfully, the respected mother of this shameful [man] didnand’t live to see what kind of son she has and saved herself from that torture,andquot Kenei tweeted last year. The tweet didnand’t include Erdoganand’s name, even though he claimed that it was directed against him and considered the word andquotshamefulandquot an insult to his dignity. In his defense, Kenei denied all the charges and argued that his remarks fall under domestic and international laws protecting freedom of speech.
The prison sentence given to Kenei also attracted criticism from Barry White, the Britain-based National Union of Journalists (NUJ) representative of the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), who said the punishment of the journalist is and”yet another attack on freedom of expression and is to be condemned.and”
Voicing his unease over the increasing number of people who face legal action for expressing their views, White told Todayand’s Zaman: and”There is growing concern over the spiraling numbers of journalists, bloggers and others who are being taken to court on charges of insulting President Erdogan and other top officials in an attempt to silence criticism. This is unacceptable in a democracy. The recent elections sent out a clear message that these freedoms must be defended.andquot
The results of the June 7 general election deprived the AK Party, which ruled Turkey as a single-party government since 2002, of the minimum number of parliamentary seats needed to continue its single-party rule for another term. The loss of support for the AK Party has been interpreted as a result of the party and Erdoganand’s growing authoritarianism, their lack of respect for dissent and their crackdown on any criticism. The 21-month prison sentence will be implemented if Kenei commits a similar crime in the next five years.
The delay of prison sentences in cases related to media freedom is an infamous measure employed by Turkish courts to silence journalists and critics. The Turkish authorities believe putting journalists on probation for five years will strongly discourage them from criticizing the countryand’s authorities. This is not the first time Kenei has faced a criminal charge from a top official.
Last month, Kenei faced six charges over his tweets in a single day after Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoilu filed complaints against him. More than a dozen journalists remain behind bars in Turkey, including Taraf journalist Mehmet Baransu and STV network executive Hidayet Karaca. Zaman daily Editor-in-Chief Ekrem Dumanli was also detained for a week after his newspaper was raided by police in December 2014. Reporters Without Borders ranked Turkey 149th out of 180 countries in its latest press freedom index, while Freedom House listed Turkey in the and”Not Freeand” category regarding media freedoms.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman