Ankara jails execs of shuttered leftist TV channel

Court convicts men of disseminating propaganda for outlawed PKK, IS jihadists, as rights group slams ‘harsh’ sentences.

ISTANBUL - An Istanbul court on Wednesday jailed three former executives of a closed down leftist television channel for spreading "terror propaganda", reports said.

The court convicted Hayatin Sesi TV's former co-owners Mustafa Kara and Ismail Gokhan Bayram and editor-in chief Gokhan Cetin of disseminating propoganda both for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and Islamic State (IS) extremists.

All three were handed jail terms of three years and nine months.

Hayatin Sesi TV, a leftist channel which had been strongly critical of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and closely covered the summer 2013 protests against his rule,. It was shut down by emergency decree in the wake of 2016 failed coup.

Media rights groups Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and the International Press Institute (IPI) confirmed the three-year nine-month sentences handed down by the court to each of the men.

Prosecutors had asked that they serve at least 13 years in jail. Supporters had described the charges as absurd.

They were convicted of disseminating propaganda for IS, the PKK and another radical Kurdish group the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK) in their reporting.

The three can remain at liberty pending appeal, the Turkey representative of RSF Erol Onderoglu said slamming the jail sentences as "harsh and disproportionate".

Press rights groups accuse Erdogan of squeezing freedom of expression in Turkey, especially after the failed coup, although the authorities insist that no one has been prosecuted without due legal cause.

According to the P24 press freedom group, there are now 183 journalists jailed in Turkey, most of whom were imprisoned in the wake of the failed coup.