Friday, April 7, 2017

Turkish cartoonist Musa Kart faces 29 years in prison

From Cartoonists Rights Network International.

“Date 12 September 1980 – We have found ideal/suitable ground to climb up!”
In a 2004 cartoon published in
Cumhuriyet, Kart depicts Fethulla Gülen as having infiltrated the Turkish military after the 1980 coup d’état. Kart is accused by the current regime of supporting Gülen.

After five months of imprisonment Turkey has finally, formally indicted the staff from Cumhuriyet newspaper including cartoonist Musa Kart who, if found guilty, faces a twenty-nine year sentence.

As widely reported across Middle-Eastern media and by human rights organisations around the world yesterday, a total of nineteen names appear in the indictment with a variety of charges and proposed sentences for each suspect.

Musa Kart is accused of “helping an armed terrorist organization while not being a member” and “abusing trust” and prosecutors have stipulated a maximum sentence of twenty-nine years. His family have confirmed that the reporting of the charges is correct.

The essence of the government’s case against Cumhuriyet is that the paper conducted itself as a fifth column, “[starting] an intense perception operation, targeting the government of the Turkish Republic and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan by using asymmetrical war tactics” and “[providing] a basis for illegal politics.”

The International Press Institute has dismissed the content of the indictment as “nonsense” and in a bullish editorial Cumhuriyet says the details are “nothing but imaginary accusations and aspersions.”

The news comes as the #FreeTurkeyMedia campaign gets underway to highlight the plight of journalists in the county, all though the month preceding World Press Freedom Day.

Musa Kart is a past winner of our Courage in Editorial Cartooning Award, having twice over been taken to court for cartoons deemed insulting by President Erdoğan. 

His work is often critical of Erdoğan’s increasingly authoritarian regime, but also of Fethullah Gülen, the alleged leader of last summer’s attempted coup, and of terrorism and extremism in Turkey overall. 

The substance of his work belies the government’s contention that he’s a Gülen Movement or PKK stooge.

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