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news 26 Jul 16

Turkey Asks Kosovo to Punish Journalist Over Coup Comments

Turkey's embassy in Kosovo has urged the government to take action against a journalist over tongue-in-cheek Facebook comments he made about the failed military coup in Turkey.

A woman shouts slogans as she waves a Turkish flag during an anti coup rally in Taksim square in Istanbul on Monday. AP Photo/Petros Karadjias.

As the failed coup unfolded on July 15, Berat Buzhala, a leading Kosovo journalist known for his satirical comments, wrote on Facebook:

"I invite the citizens of the Republic of Kosovo who are holidaying in Turkey to align with the army." The comment was signed with an Internet emoticon with a tongue protruding, indicating the comment was not serious.

"This is the most serious coup since the arrival of Facebook," Buzhala said.

Turkey is a major supporter of Kosovo which declared independence from Serbia in 2008. Its companies run the sole airport, own electricity distribution and are building two highways worth around $2 billion.

Buzhala has over 40,000 Facebook followers. His news portal gazetaexpress.com, which is the biggest in Kosovo with around one million readers per day, has been critical of Kosovans who have gone to fight for Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.

On July 20, the Turkish Embassy in Pristina sent a note to Kosovo's foreign ministry urging it to take action over the journalist's comments.

"(The ministry should) ensure that necessary steps will be taken about this person in accordance with the law," said the note which was accompanied by screen shots of Buzhala's Facebook comments.

The embassy note, a copy of which was seen by Reuters, also quoted a newly-adopted Kosovo law which prohibits citizens from joining armed conflicts outside the country.

In the note the embassy also said the law stipulated that comments by people such as Buzhala "shall be sentenced to jail terms from six months to five years."

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