Turkey: 6 journalists sentenced to life in prison

Deniz Yucel, a Turkish-German journalist working for German newspaper Die Welt who was detained in Turkey for more than a year, walks with his wife Dilek Mayaturk Yucel, after being released from jail, in Istanbul, Friday, Feb. 16, 2018,(Can Erok/DHA-Depo Photos via AP)
From left: Mathias Doepfner, CEO Axel Springer SE, German foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel, and Ulf Poschardt, chief editor of "Die Welt", newspaper give statements about the release of 'Die Welt' journalist Deniz Yucel from prison, in Berlin, Germany, Friday, Feb. 16, 2018. The German reporter detained in Turkey for more than a year was released from jail pending trial, even as six other journalists and newspaper employees were sentenced to life imprisonment by a Turkish court Friday. (Kay Nietfeld/dpa via AP)
A Turkish soldier stands outside the prison complex where Deniz Yucel, a Turkish-German journalist working for German newspaper Die Welt who was detained in Turkey for more than a year, has been released from jail, in Silivri, Turkey Friday, Feb. 16, 2018, German officials and his employer said. A spokesman for Germany's foreign ministry confirmed a report by daily Die Welt that Yucel had been freed.(AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)

ISTANBUL — A Turkish court on Friday sentenced six journalists and media employees accused of involvement in Turkey's 2016 failed coup attempt to life in prison without parole, the state-run news agency reported.

The Anadolu Agency said the court in Silivri, on the outskirts of Istanbul, convicted prominent journalists Ahmet Altan, Mehmet Altan and Nazli Ilicak and three other media employees of crimes against the state. One defendant was acquitted.

"This is a dark day for press freedom and for justice in Turkey and sets a chilling precedent for scores of other journalists facing trials on similar trumped-up terrorism charges," said Gauri van Gulik, Europe Director for Amnesty International.

They are the first journalists to be convicted over the July 15, 2016, coup attempt, which Turkey says was orchestrated by a network led by U.S.-based Muslim cleric, Fethullah Gulen. The cleric denies involvement.

Their conviction came as another court in the same courthouse ordered German journalist Deniz Yucel — who has been detained in Turkey for a year — released from jail pending trial.

The defendants were charged with attempts against Turkey's constitution and membership in a terror organization. They were employed by Gulen-linked media organizations but have rejected the charges, denying any involvement in the coup attempt.

They were given "aggravated" life sentences without the possibility of parole and other rights.

"Of course we are going to appeal the verdict," Mehmet Altan's lawyer, Ergin Cinmen, told The Associated Press. "It's a decision of the century and will need to be taught in law schools."

"It's a decision where freedoms of expression and thought have been destroyed," he said.

More than 38,000 people, including journalists, are in jail as part of an ongoing large-scale Turkish government crackdown on Gulen's followers launched after the coup. More than 110,000 others have been sacked from government jobs. Many proclaim their innocence.

"These verdicts, the first against journalists accused of being connected to the July 2016 failed coup, set a devastating precedent for the many other journalists and writers in Turkey who are being tried on similarly spurious charges," said Jennifer Clement, president of PEN International.

Ahmet Altan, a former newspaper chief editor, and his brother, Mehmet Altan — a columnist and academic — were accused of appearing together with veteran journalist Ilicak in a political debate show on a Gulen-linked television channel. Prosecutors deemed that their comments indicated they had prior knowledge of the coup attempt.

In January, Turkey's Constitutional Court ruled that Mehmet Altan and Sahin Alpay — another journalist being tried separately — should be released pending the outcome of their trials. But a lower court refused to implement the decision, raising concerns about rule of law in the country.

__

Associated Press writer Suzan Fraser in Ankara, Turkey contributed.

People also read these

Cyprus leaders still 'far apart' on peace summit:...

May 25, 2017

Cyprus rival leaders still 'far apart' on holding peace summit next month, UN envoy says

Turkey's FM wants no conditions for Cyprus peace...

Jun 1, 2017

Turkey's foreign minister wants no conditions for Cyprus peace summit toward reunification

Cyprus: new gas deposit too small to exploit,...

Sep 12, 2017

Cyprus' energy minister says exploratory drilling off the island's southern coast has discovered a...

Cyprus, Egypt, Greece agree to bolster maritime...

Dec 14, 2017

The defense ministers of Cyprus, Egypt and Greece have agreed to step up cooperation in combatting...

Cyprus says drilling indicates potentially big...

Feb 8, 2018

Cyprus' energy minister says exploratory drilling off the island's southern shore has shown...

About Us

Get a quick look at what’s happening in the world today with in-depth analysis on international news, politics, business and technology, only in Central News Today.

Contact us: sales[at]centralnewstoday.com

Subscribe Now!