Turkey court jails 3 journalists for life over Gulen links: state media

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ISTANBUL: A Turkish court on Friday jailed three prominent journalists for life on charges of links to the group blamed for the 2016 failed coup, state media said.

Veteran journalists and writers Nazli Ilicak and the brothers Mehmet and Ahmet Altan were handed the life sentences at a trial in Istanbul over links to the outlawed group of US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen, the Anadolu news agency said.

A similar punishment was handed to three other suspects. Gulen denies links to the coup bid.

Ilicak, 73, was one of the very first journalists arrested in July after the coup bid. Briefly an MP from 1999, she wrote for several dailies including Hurriyet.

Ahmet Altan, 67, is a novelist and journalist who has written for some of Turkey’s leading dailies including Hurriyet and Milliyet as well as founding the now closed opposition daily Taraf.

Mehmet Altan, 65, has written books on Turkish politics. Both were detained in early September although Ahmet Altan was released in mid-September before rapidly being re-arrested.

In the same case, the court gave life sentences for former Zaman newspaper marketing manager Yakup Simsek, police academy instructor Sukru Tugrul Ozsengul and Zaman layout designer Fevzi Yazici.

The Altan brothers and Ilicak are also accused of appearing together on a TV show on a pro-Gulen channel just before the coup bid and issuing a message that the attempted overthrow was in the offing.

Mehmet Altan was in January ordered to be freed by the Constitutional Court but its ruling was not implemented by the criminal court in a move that outraged supporters.

The failure to release Mehmet Altan and fellow writer Sahin Alpay — who is being tried in a separate case — raised new alarm over the rule of law in Turkey.

The Ankara-based Constitutional Court had ruled that Mehmet Altan and Alpay should be freed on the grounds that their rights had been violated.

But the Istanbul criminal court refused to implement the order, saying it had not been properly communicated in a move that raised fears of political interference.—AFP

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