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Veteran Kurdish journalist jailed on terror charges

VETERAN journalist Huseyin Aykol was arrested in the Turkish capital Ankara today and taken to prison where he will serve almost four years on trumped-up terrorism charges.

Mr Aykol, who has 45 years’ experience in publishing and journalism, was expected to be taken to the F-Type closed prison in the Sincan district of Ankara.

He was sentenced to three years and nine months for “making propaganda for a terrorist organisation” for his work as co-editor-in-chief of the now closed Ozgur Gundem (Free Agenda) newspaper.

The publication, which has been subject to severe attacks from the Turkish state, was closed along with hundreds of other opposition media outlets by presidential decree under the state of emergency introduced after the failed coup attempt of 2016.

Trials took place for the 56 journalists who acted as editor-in-chief for the day as part of a solidarity campaign.

Ozgur Gundem journalists Huseyin Bektas and Mehmet Ali Celebi were sentenced to 1.5 years’ imprisonment.

Ayse Duzkan and Ragip Duran were among those jailed for their solidarity actions.

Mr Aykol was arrested after police launched a series of raids without warrants across the capital.

He served 10 years in prison following the 1980 military coup which saw a backlash against the left and trade unions.

Publishers and journalists were particularly targeted with many organisations being shut down.

Over the last 20 years he has worked for newspapers, including Ozgur Ulke, Ozgur Gundem, Ozgurlukcu Demokrasi and Yeni Yas am.

Friends described Mr Aykol as a “peaceful man who loved classical music.”

Unions warned of increased attacks following the release of a paper by a pro-government think thank which was described as a “blacklist” of journalists.

The Turkish Union of Journalists (TGS) filed a criminal complaint on Monday after the Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research (Seta) document published a list of journalists critical of the government.

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