Turkey: Journalists hauled in prison over Libya reporting

Several Turkish journalists have been detained for their reporting on government’s military campaign in Libya where Ankara backs the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA).

Baris Terkoglu, from the anti-government online news website OdaTV, was detained Thursday allegedly in connection with a report about a Turkish intelligence officer who was killed in Libya, Arab News reports.

Another journalist, Hulya Kilinc, is also locked after she reportedly published the name of the Turkish intelligence officer killed last month in Libya.

Turkey is engaged militarily in Libya, providing logistical, tactical and fighter support to the GNA in its resistance to rebel Gen. Khalifa Haftar who launched in April last year a military offensive to seize capital Tripoli.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan admitted the loss of some Turkish forces in Libya but claimed that the forces managed to inflict losses to Haftar forces.

“We have several martyrs, but in return we neutralized nearly 100 legionaries,” Erdogan said during a speech on Feb. 22.

Terkoglu, accused of illegally obtaining and distributing documents related to intelligence activities, faces up to nine years in prison if convicted.

Freedom of press watchdogs have condemned the harassment of journalists. Ozgur Ogret, a Turkish representative of the Committee to Protect Journalists argues that the arrests are aiming at silencing the criticism of government’s military campaigns abroad.

“Turkey is trying to control the narrative of its military actions in Syria and Libya so hard that even the journalists who report about or comment on things that are public knowledge are being prosecuted,” Ozgur told Arab News.

The only way of controlling the narrative was to intimidate the media in the hope that journalists would self-censor, he also told the Saudi media.

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