Turk Islamist Reporters Convicted

ANKARA (Reuters)–A Turkish military court sentenced an Islamist reporter to 14 months in jail on Tuesday and police detained 30 people in a crackdown on radical Islamist groups–state-run Anatolian news agency said.

The agency said the court found journalist Yasar Kaplan guilty of "inciting soldiers to break the law and disobey orders" in articles published in the Islamist Akit newspaper. The agency said Mustafa Ballibey–an editor at the daily–was initially given the same punishment on similar charges–but the court later converted the sentence to a 2.1 million Turkish lira ($7) fine. Under Turkish law civilians can be tried in military courts.

Defense lawyers said they would appeal against the verdict. Rights groups have often criticized Turkey for imprisoning journalists for what they write or say. Anatolian said police in the western province of Kocaeli had detained 12 people suspected of membership of the armed Islamist group Hizbullah after guns and documen’s were found at their homes.

A training camp for Hizbullah was also uncovered in the northwestern province of Izmit–it said–giving no further details.

Turkish Hizbullah is not believed to be linked to the Lebanese guerrilla group of the same name.

Turkish authorities hold it responsible for a number of shootings and bombings in the southeast of the country. Prosecutors have begun a wave of legal actions against Islamist activism since the constitutional court in January banned Turkey’s then biggest political grouping–the Islam-based Welfare Party–for attempting to subvert the secular constitution.

A Welfare-led government was forced out of office last June after sustained pressure spearheaded by the strictly secularist military.


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