ISTANBUL (Reuters) – A Turkish court gave jail sentences on Wednesday to five journalists for revealing identities of two security agents who died in Libya where Ankara is helping the Tripoli government fight off an assault by eastern forces, a lawyer said.
The charges centred on articles and social media posts published shortly after President Tayyip Erdogan said in February that “several martyrs” had been lost in Libya.
Two journalists were sentenced to three years and nine months in jail, while three were given four years and eight months for violation of National Intelligence Agency law, defence lawyer Celal Ulgen told Reuters after the hearing.
The defendants denied the accusations, saying they were doing their jobs as reporters.
“We will take this ruling to an appeals court. This is not a lawful decision, this is a political decision,” Ulgen said.
Two other defendants were acquitted from the charges and the court delayed the case of an eighth defendant.
Turkey’s courts do not generally confirm rulings to the media and there was no word on the case from the government.
Critics say Erdogan has eroded the independence of courts and the media since a crackdown following an attempted coup in 2016. Officials say the courts are autonomous and arrests have been necessary due to security risks.
Turkey has given military support and training to Libya’s internationally-recognised Government of National Accord, helping it fight off an assault on the capital Tripoli by the forces of Khalifa Haftar.
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