Turkish investigative journalist imprisoned for sixth time in three years

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Baris Pehlivan, a Turkish investigative journalist, was imprisoned on Tuesday for the sixth time in three years after receiving a text message ordering him back to prison earlier this month.

He was notified by the justice ministry on August 2 by SMS that he had to turn himself in by August 15 to the prison at Silivi, outside of Istanbul, where many of the government’s detractors are housed.

In his most recent book, “SS,” Pehlivan accuses Suleyman Soylu, a former interior minister, of having ties to organised crime.

“Baris might be released on parole,” his attorney Huseyin Ersoz told AFP. “A decision could be made at any time,” he declared.

Pehlivan, a former editor-in-chief of Oda TV and a writer to the daily Cumhuriyet, has previously served four terms in prison.

He spent a day in jail in two of those occurrences, one in February and one in May.

In 2020, Pehlivan and six other journalists received a three-year, nine-month prison term for covering the burial of an MIT spy who was working in Libya, where Ankara backs the Tripoli government, which the UN has acknowledged.

Authorities in Turkey have never confirmed his death, but reporters were accused of disclosing “state secrets”

This time, Pehlivan was brought back into custody to complete the first eight months of his 2020 term for breaking the nation’s national intelligence regulations.

Pehlivan added, “People go to jail just for writing truth, just for doing journalism,” before being imprisoned.

“Mine is a drop in this ocean, in this big fight,” he said.

Last Monday, proponents of press freedom denounced the journalist’s “judicial harassment” and asked the Turkish government to protect press freedom.

Pehlivan, according to Erol Onderoglu of Reporters Without Borders, is the 13th journalist to be imprisoned this year.

He said on Twitter, which was just relaunched as X, “Arresting a reporter is an anachronistic attack on public opinion.”

According to the RSF’s most recent ranking of press freedom, Turkey is placed 165th out of 180 nations.