Politics

Turkish Tit-For-Tat Results In Arrest of WSJ Reporter

“This was an unfounded criminal charge and wildly inappropriate conviction that wrongly singled out a balanced Wall Street Journal report…The sole purpose of the article was to provide objective and independent reporting on events in Turkey, and it succeeded.”

The Turkish government has sentenced Wall Street Journal reporter Ayla Albayrak to two years and one month in prison on Oct. 10 after she was found guilty of terrorist propaganda in support of a banned Kurdish separatist organization.

The alleged “propaganda”: “Urban Warfare Escalates in Turkey’s Kurdish-Majority Southeast,” an article appearing in the Wall Street Journal itself.

“This was an unfounded criminal charge and wildly inappropriate conviction that wrongly singled out a balanced Wall Street Journal report,” said Wall Street Journal Editor in Chief Gerard Baker. “The sole purpose of the article was to provide objective and independent reporting on events in Turkey, and it succeeded.”

That the article in question and its accompanying video provided content and images for no less than 24 Turkish-language websites – all of course duly blocked by the Turkish government – underscores the anti-democratic values of those ruling, an assertion supported by the fact that Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom ranks Turkey in the 155th spot, below even Russia or Pakistan.

Of course, the arrest did not happen in a domestic political vacuum.

While much of the press has focused on the reporter’s arrest as a casualty of Trump’s visa restrictions, the Wall Street Journal reminds us diplomatic tension between Washington and Ankara spiked in the wake of the visa suspension, which came after Turkey’s arrest of a U.S. consulate employee suspected of having ties to U.S.-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara blames for last year’s failed coup.

Sheena Hutchison

Sheena Hutchison is an OpsLens contributor with nearly a decade of experience in political analysis and campaign strategy. As a ghostwriter for a former Reagan-appointed ambassador to the United Nations, much of her work has focused on domestic and foreign policy issues, particularly those related to national security, immigration and counterterrorism. Sheena holds a BA in International Affairs with a regional concentration in the Middle East from The George Washington University and is pursuing a MA in Global Security Studies with concentrations in Strategic Studies and Intelligence at Johns Hopkins University.

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