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.

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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