Turkish top court rejects application of six journos jailed over Libya reports

Turkey's Constitutional Court has rejected the applications of six journalists claiming rights violations over their imprisonment in connection to their coverage of the deaths of Turkish intelligence officers in Libya in 2020.

The journalists, accused of revealing state secrets and kept in pre-trial detention for up to six-months over the charges, had filed two separate cases with the top court, Milli Gazete newspaper reported on Saturday, claiming their rights to personal freedom and freedom of speech had been violated.

The Turkish Constitutional Court found the application of five of the journalists - Murat Ağırel, Barış Pehlivan, Hülya Kılınç, Ferhat Çelik and Aydın Keser - to be “inadmissible,” according to Milli Gazete, citing their lack of clear “basis.”

The application of journalist Müyesser Yıldız, jailed in June 2020 for five months, was found “admissible” by the court, but it ruled that the her rights had not been violated, Milli Gazete said.  

The reports by the journalists took place while the Turkish military helped Libya’s internationally-recognized Government of National Accord defend Tripoli from a prolonged assault by east Libyan forces led by Khalifa Haftar over several months.

The journalists published reports and tweeted about the secretly held funeral of an agent of the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) killed during a mission in Libya, among the first Turkish soldiers killed during military operations in the north African country.

Turkey remains among the world’s top jailors of journalists, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

As of December, at least 18 journalists were behind bars in Turkey’s prisons, according to the CPJ. The country now ranks sixth globally, having released 20 journalists in the past year.

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