Six journalists given life sentences in Turkish court, local media reports

A court in Istanbul has sentenced six journalists accused of involvement in a 2016 coup attempt to life prison terms, according to Turkey‘s state-run news agency.

Anadolu said those sentenced on Friday include Ahmet Altan, former editor-in-chief of Taraf newspaper, his brother, journalist and academic Mehmet Altan, and prominent journalist Nazli Ilicak.

The journalists were accused of links to US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Turkey blames for the failed coup against President Tayyip Erdogan (pictured) on July 15 2016. Gulen denies the accusation.

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The defendants were charged with attempts against Turkey‘s constitution and membership of a terror organisation.

The group were employed by Gulen-linked media organisations but have rejected the charges, denying any involvement in the coup attempt.

Mehmet Altan’s lawyer, Ergin Cinmen, said: “Of course we are going to appeal the verdict. It’s a decision of the century and will need to be taught in law faculties.

“It’s a decision where freedoms of expression and thought have been destroyed.”

More than 38,000 people, including journalists, are in jail as part of an ongoing large-scale government crackdown launched on Mr Gulen’s network of followers after the attempted coup.

More than 110,000 have been sacked from government jobs.

Ahmet Altan, a former newspaper chief editor, and his brother, Mehmet Altan – a columnist and academic – were accused of appearing together with veteran journalist Mr 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.

Picture: Reuters/Osman Orsal

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