Turkish Sentencing of Wall Street Journal Reporter Horrifies News Guild

Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg Editor, Press Associates Union News

Turkey’s sentencing of Wall Street Journal reporter Ayla Albayrak horrifies The News Guild-CWA, which sees it as part of the government’s campaign to shut down criticism, Guild President Bernie Lunzer says.

On October 10, A Turkish court sentenced Albayrak to 25 months in prison on charges that she engaged in “terrorist propaganda in support of a banned Kurdish separatist organization,” the Journal reported.

The “propaganda” was an article two years ago about the Kurdish insurgency in eastern Turkey and its local impact.

Albayrak joins a growing horde of tens of thousands of journalists, civil servants, teachers, academics, soldiers and civilians who have lost their jobs, been imprisoned or both since a failed coup last year against the government of Recip Tayyet Erdogan.

Erdogan, leader of the nation’s dominant Islamic-based party, claims an exiled Muslim religious leader – and a former ally -- now living in Pennsylvania, was behind the coup.

But he’s also used the coup attempt as an excuse to arrest Kurds and their allies, along with others who have dared to speak out against his dictatorial tendencies. One leading Turkish independent paper, Hurriyet, has lost dozens of staffers.

Now, Albayrak, who reports on Turkey as part of the Journal’s foreign service, is among the jailed. The News Guild, through its Independent Association of Publishers Employees local, represents the domestic staff at the Journal, though not its foreign staff, Lunzer says.

Her jailing still upsets him, and other journalistic organizations, too.

“We are horrified by the action taken against a WSJ journalist. Turkey is actively muzzling reporters and creating great fear in the journalism community. We seek her immediate release,” Lunzer e-mailed Press Associates Union News Service.

The Journal said Albayrak will appeal her sentencing. Albayrak was sentenced without being present in court. She’s currently in New York City. 

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

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Posted In: Union Matters

Union Matters

Saving the Nation’s Parks

From the USW

From tumbledown bridges to decrepit roads and failing water systems, crumbling infrastructure undermines America’s safety and prosperity. In coming weeks, Union Matters will delve into this neglect and the urgent need for a rebuilding campaign that creates jobs, fuels economic growth and revitalizes communities. 

The wildfires ravaging the West Coast not only pose imminent danger to iconic national parks like Crater Lake in Oregon and the Redwoods in California, but threaten the future of all of America’s beloved scenic places.

As climate change fuels the federal government’s need to spend more of National Park Service (NPS) and U.S. Forest Service budgets on wildfire suppression, massive maintenance backlogs and decrepit infrastructure threaten the entire system of national parks and forests.

A long-overdue infusion of funds into the roads, bridges, tunnels, dams and marinas in these treasured spaces would generate jobs and preserve landmark sites for generations to come.

The infrastructure networks in the nation’s parks long have failed to meet modern-day demand. The American Society of Civil Engineers gave parks a D+ rating in its 2017 infrastructure report card, citing chronic underfunding and deferred maintenance.

Just this year, a large portion of the Blue Ridge Parkway, which is owned and managed by the NPS, collapsed due to heavy rains and slope failures. Projects to prevent disasters like this one get pushed further down the road as wildfire management squeezes agency budgets more each year.

Congress recently passed the Great American Outdoors Act,  allocating billions in new funding for the NPS.

But that’s just a first step in a long yet vital process to bring parks and forests to 21st-century standards. America’s big, open spaces cannot afford to suffer additional neglect.

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work