The court sentenced 14 journalists and executives from Cumhuriyet newspaper to various prison terms over terrorism-related charges.
The 27th High Criminal Court of İstanbul on Wednesday sentenced 14 journalists from Cumhuriyet daily to various prison terms over terrorism-related charges.
Cumhuriyet Editor-in-Chief Murat Sabuncu, CEO Akin Atalay, and Orhan Erinc, plus journalists Ahmet Sik, Aydin Engin, and Hikmet Cetinkaya, got prison terms of six to eight years on charges of acting on behalf of a terrorist group without being members.
Atalay, however, was released in light of his time already served.
Eight journalists — Bulent Utku, Kadri Gursel, Guray Tekin Oz, Haci Musa Kart, Hakan Karasinir, Mustafa Kemal Gungor, Onder Celik, and Yusuf Emre Iper — were given up to four years in prison on the same charges.
At the first hearing in the case in July 2016, the suspects were indicted for sponsoring the PKK, Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), and leftist DHKP/C terrorist groups.
The court also sentenced Twitter user Ahmet Kemal Aydogdu, who used to handle @JeansBiri, to 10 years in prison.
Aydogdu was detained in October 2016 on charges of spreading disinformation through the Internet.
Aydogdu, said to be a teacher at a local school, was charged with armed terrorist group membership. During the course of their investigation, authorities also found a large sum of money at his home.
The court also ruled that that case against the prominent journalist Can Dundar, previously the newspaper’s editor-in-chief, would continue separately.
AMNESTY: VERDICTS AGAINST JOURNALISTS DEFY LOGIC AND JUSTICE
Following the sentences handed down to 13 journalists and executives of the Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet on charges of “acting on behalf of a terrorist organisation or making the organisation’s propaganda, Milena Buyum, Amnesty International’s Turkey campaigner, said:
“Since the start of this trial, it has been journalism itself that has been in the dock and today’s verdicts defy logic and offend justice.
“Throughout the nine-month course of this trial, the prosecution has failed to produce a shred of evidence of any criminal wrongdoing. These politically motivated sentences are clearly intended to instill fear and silence any form of dissent.
“This is a shocking affront to press freedom and for justice in Turkey and sets a chilling precedent for scores of other journalists facing trials on similar trumped-up terrorism related charges.”
A recent European Commission report said that under the state of emergency imposed in the wake of the coup bid, more than 150,000 people had been taken into custody, 78,000 arrested and over 110,000 civil servants dismissed. Turkish authorities say that some 40,000 have been reinstated in the process.
Turkey’s Western allies have repeatedly condemned the Turkish government’s detentions and purges after the coup attempt.
Local and international rights groups accuse the government of using the coup bid as a pretext to silence opposition in the country.
The government says that the purges and detentions are in line with the rule of law and aim to remove Gülen’s supporters from state institutions and other parts of society. (EVRENSEL DAILY)