Turkey convicts Wall Street Journal reporter of terrorism

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Court rules Ayla Albayrak showed support for outlawed PKK group in an 2015 article, accusing her of "terror" propaganda.

New York, October 10, 2017-The Committee to Protect Journalists condemned the conviction today of Wall Street Journal reporter Ayla Albayrak, and called on Turkish authorities to stop their relentless crackdown on the press.

In a release Tuesday, the Journal said Albayrak "has consistently demonstrated her commitment to upholding the highest professional standards" and was wrongfully convicted.

Scores of media workers are imprisoned in Turkey, which has earned the distinction of being the world's leading jailer of journalists. The authorities also have shown little tolerance for reporting on groups classified as terrorist entities by the state, including the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, a subject of Albayrak's 2015 article. "Rather than dispensing justice, Turkey's judicial system has become an instrument of persecution".

The offending story chronicled the government's efforts to quell unrest among the nation's Kurdish separatists, "firing tear gas and live rounds in a bid to reassert control of several neighborhoods".

The charges against Albayrak, a dual citizen of Turkey and Finland, stemmed from an article that she wrote two years ago on Turkey's ongoing war with Kurdish militants, the Journal statement said. Numerous more than 70 now incarcerated were convicted on similar charges for covering separatist Kurds.

Both the reporter and Wall Street Journal Editor-in-Chief Gerard Baker have defended the article as a fair and unbiased assessment of the conflict in the Turkish region, saying that the charges are completely without merit.

Albayrak graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, and has been reporting from Turkey since 2004, including with the Journal since 2010. It came as the Trump administration and the government of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan are locked in a bitter dispute over Turkey's recent arrest of a U.S. Consulate employee in Istanbul.

The CPJ also said that with at least 81 journalists behind bars, Turkey was the leading jailer of the press as of December 1, of previous year when committee last conducted its global annual census. On Tuesday, the USA suspended almost all types of visa services for Turks after a U.S. consulate employee in Turkey was arrested on suspicion of having ties to the US-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Erdoğan's government blames for the coup attempt.

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