Turkish opposition daily cartoonist sent back to jail
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Turkish opposition daily cartoonist sent back to jail

Six total staffers from independent news outlet imprisoned for allegedly aiding terror groups, heightening concerns over press freedom in Turkey

Turkish cartoonist Musa Kart attends a press conference held by opposition journalists in Istanbul, April 22, 2019. (AFP/Yasin Akgul)
Turkish cartoonist Musa Kart attends a press conference held by opposition journalists in Istanbul, April 22, 2019. (AFP/Yasin Akgul)

ISTANBUL, Turkey — Six former staff members of the opposition daily Cumhuriyet including cartoonist Musa Kart went back to prison on Thursday after an appeals court upheld their jail sentences.

Last year 14 former Cumhuriyet staffers, including journalists and executives, were sentenced for “aiding and abetting terror groups without being a member” but they remained free pending the appeals.

An appeals court in Istanbul in February unanimously approved the sentences.

The six including Kart, four administrators and one accountant, were returned to Kandira prison to serve the rest of their jail sentences, an official from the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) said.

Kandira is in the northwestern city of Kocaeli nearly 150 kilometers (90 miles) from Istanbul.

The controversial Cumhuriyet case sparked criticism over the state of press freedom in Turkey.

Cumhuriyet, the country’s oldest daily founded in 1924, is not owned by a business tycoon but by an independent foundation.

Reporters Without Borders condemned Turkey’s “disgraceful” persecution of the former staff members.

“We are appalled to see these leading figures being thrown in prison again,” RSF’s Turkey representative Erol Onderoglu said in a statement.

“This is the culmination of ruthless political vengeance that highlights the collapse of the rule of law,” he added.

The daily has often had troubles with government authorities, with its former editor-in-chief Can Dundar fleeing to Germany after being convicted in 2016 over an article alleging that Turkey had supplied weapons to Islamist groups in Syria.

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