Turkish Medical Association chief convicted of terror charge

Jan 10, 2023, 1:01 PM | Updated: Jan 11, 2023, 9:19 am
Turkish Medical Association President Dr. Sebnem Korur Fincanci talks to journalists after being re...

Turkish Medical Association President Dr. Sebnem Korur Fincanci talks to journalists after being released from Bakirkoy women's prison in Istanbul, Turkey, Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2023. A court convicted Fincanci on Wednesday of disseminating "terror organization propaganda" to nearly three years in prison but also ruled to release her from pre-trial detention while she appeals the verdict. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)

(AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)

ISTANBUL (AP) — A court convicted the president of the Turkish Medical Association on Wednesday of disseminating “terror organization propaganda” following a trial that human rights groups had denounced as an attempt to silence government critics.

The court in Istanbul sentenced Dr. Sebnem Korur Fincanci to nearly three years in prison but also ruled to release her from pre-trial detention while she appeals the verdict.

Fincanci, 63, was arrested in October and charged with engaging in propaganda on behalf of the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK. The arrest followed a media interview in which she called for an independent investigation into allegations that the Turkish military used chemical weapons against Kurdish militants in northern Iraq.

Fincanci is the latest activist to be convicted under Turkey’s broad anti-terrorism laws. A forensic expert, she has spent much of her career documenting torture and ill-treatment, and has served as president of the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey.

During her trial, Fincanci rejected accusations that she engaged in propaganda during the interview, arguing that she gave a professional opinion.

Speaking to reporters outside prison following her release, Fincanci further justified her comments.

“Of course, as physicians we will prioritize human health,” she said. “We will be against wars and we will do our best to prevent all kinds of weapons, to prevent their use, to eliminate them.”

The charges stemmed from an interview she gave to the pro-Kurdish Medya Haber TV outlet and commented on a video purporting to show the use of chemical weapons. She suggested that a toxic gas may have been released but also called for an “effective investigation.”

Turkish officials strongly denied allegations that the country used chemical weapons, insisting its military doesn’t have such weapons in its inventory. The PKK has led an armed insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984. The group is considered a terrorist organization in Turkey, Europe and the United States.

Her comments caused a backlash with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accusing her of slandering Turkey’s armed forces and of insulting her country “by speaking the language of the terrorist organization.”

He vowed to introduce measures to clear the Turkish Medical Association and other professional organizations of “supporters of the terrorist organization.” In October, the justice minister said they were working on new regulations.

Devlet Bahceli, the leader of a nationalist party that is allied with Erdogan’s ruling party, went further and demanded that she be stripped of her Turkish citizenship and the association shut down.

The association, which has around 110,000 members across Turkey, had drawn the ire of government officials for questioning government data and criticizing some measures imposed during the Covid-19 pandemic.

In her final trial statements, Fincanci said the association was the actual target of the investigation, according to the Dokuz8haber website, which monitored the trial. She said freedom of expression and science were being undermined.

A European Union delegation observed the trial on Wednesday, along with rights groups and supporters, in a packed courtroom.

The advocacy group Physicians for Human Rights criticized the court’s verdict.

“Charging physicians who represent the health interests of all Turkish residents with ‘terrorism’ is ludicrous and shameful,” Dr. Michele Heisler, the group’s medical director, said in a statement. “Instead of saluting Dr. Korur Fincanc?’s courageous and visionary work, the Turkish authorities have attempted to intimidate, punish, and criminalize her and other physicians’ work. The harassment must cease.”

The Istanbul court sentenced her to two years, eight months and 15 days in prison. She is expected to appeal the verdict.

Other leading civil society figures and dozens of journalists are imprisoned in Turkey. Terror propaganda laws have also been used to crackdown on pro-Kurdish politicians and activists.

Fraser reported from Ankara, Turkey. Zeynep Bilginsoy contributed from Istanbul.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

The Amazon DTW1 fulfillment center is shown in Romulus, Mich., April 1, 2020. Amazon reports financ...
Associated Press

Amazon beats Q4 revenue estimates, but profits slump

Amazon on Thursday reported worse-than-expected profits, but its revenue beat expectations boosted by sales in North America businesses and the cloud-computing unit AWS.
10 hours ago
legislature...
Associated Press

Washington’s low-income tax credit available for first time

 Up to $1,200 is now available for thousands of low-income working Washington residents, thanks to a 2008 law that has finally been funded.
10 hours ago
Law enforcement personnel work at the scene of a shooting at a Tennessee library, Thursday, Feb. 2,...
Associated Press

Officer shot at public library remains in critical condition

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — A Tennessee police officer who was shot at a public library while responding to a trespassing complaint remained in “extremely critical condition” on Friday, Memphis Police said. The officer was hospitalized Thursday after the shooting at the Poplar-White Station Public Library, a small building on a busy Memphis street surrounded by […]
1 day ago
A construction worker pauses at a building site, Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023, in Boston. America's empl...
Associated Press

An unexpected job surge confounds the Fed’s economic models

WASHINGTON (AP) — Does the Federal Reserve have it wrong? For months, the Fed has been warily watching the U.S. economy’s robust job gains out of concern that employers, desperate to hire, will keep boosting pay and, in turn, keep inflation elevated. But January’s blowout job growth coincided with an actual slowdown in wage growth. […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Giant panda Le Le dies after 20 years at Memphis Zoo

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Giant panda Le Le has died, the Memphis Zoo announced Friday. The panda, born July 18, 1998, died Wednesday, zoo spokesperson Rebecca Winchester said in an email. His cause of death has yet to be determined as a medical investigation is pending, the zoo said. “Le Le’s name translates to ‘happy […]
1 day ago
Cypriot Presidential candidate Nicos Christodoulides waves to his supporters during a campaign rall...
Associated Press

Cyprus presidential candidates push leadership credentials

NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — The three front-runners vying for the presidency of ethnically split Cyprus wound down their campaigns Friday, putting pronouncements of their leadership credentials ahead of issues two days before the election. Opinion polls indicate that none of the three, who are all close associates of outgoing President Nicos Anastasiades, will muster more […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Turkish Medical Association chief convicted of terror charge