ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkish prosecutors are pushing for jail terms of up to 7 1/2 years each for 18 journalists accused of terrorist propaganda after publishing an image of a legal official held at gunpoint by far-left militants in March, local media said.
Staff from nine newspapers were charged in an indictment on Monday for printing the photo of captors holding a gun to the head of Istanbul prosecutor Mehmet Selim Kiraz, who was later killed in a shoot-out, media reported.
Turkish authorities initially ordered Facebook, Google and other sites to remove the photo which spread widely online, triggering accusations from academics and rights campaigners of an authoritarian crackdown.
Turkey has taken a tough stance on social media under President Tayyip Erdogan and the ruling AK Party he founded.
The indictment said the journalists tried to portray a terrorist organization "strong and capable enough for any action," media reported on Tuesday. Istanbul Chief Prosecutor's Office was not immediately available for comment.
Can Dündar, editor-in-chief of the daily Cumhuriyet newspaper and one of the journalsts charged, has said he had intended to portray the dark and ugly face of terrorism.
Journalists from dailies Millet, Sok, Posta, Yurt, Bugun, Ozgur Gundem, Aydinlik and Birgun were also named in the indictment, and all had pleaded not guilty, media said.
The prison sentences asked in the indictment ranged from 18 months to 7 1/2 years, according to the reports.
The photo was initially released by the Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C) that said it took Kiraz hostage.
(Writing by Ece Toksabay; Editing by Andrew Heavens)