Turkey sentences 25 journalists to jail over failed coup

A demostrator holds a placard of Reporters Without Borders Turkey representative Erol Onderoglu journalist Ahmet Nesin and rights activist and academic Sebnem Korur Fincanci during a demostration in front of the Metris prison

AFP 2018 OZAN KOSE UN OSCE Slam Turkey Over Life Sentences for Journalists

Since then, it has sentenced two journalists, three other media company employees, and a political commentator to life in prison after the government charged that they had helped start the coup with subliminal messages on a broadcast.

Murat Sabuncu, editor-in-chief of the newspaper Cumhuriyet, is greeted by his friends after being released from the prison in Silivri near Istanbul, Turkey March 10, 2018. They also remain charged, including cartoonist Musa Kart and columnist Kadri Gursel.

Turkish journalist Ahmet Şik (R) reacts after being released from Silivri prison.

Two others were convicted on a lesser charge of helping a terrorist group, but were freed based on time they have served.

Also present were the defendants who were released a year ago after long stints in jail but also remain charged, including cartoonist Musa Kart and columnist Kadri Gursel.

"We should not be happy that we have been released because our release does not mean things have changed in Turkey regarding freedom of speech", Sabuncu told reporters.

Despite public calls for all journalists to be freed following the release of German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yücel, response to Thursday's rulings was less vocal. You believe in me, too.

The defendants were accused of "knowingly and willingly" aiding exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen, who has been blamed by Ankara for the failed coup attempt in Turkey in July 2016.

Supporters say the charges are absurd, noting that the outlawed groups cited in the indictment are themselves at odds with each other.

Dozens of journalists have been detained in the wake of the coup bid, causing global concern.

Indeed, Şik is seen as one of Turkey's most incisive critics of the Gulen movement and in 2011 wrote a book The Imam's Army, exposing the grip the group had on key Turkish institutions.

Earlier yesterday, Turkey's highest court overturned a five-year jail sentence for Cumhuriyet's former editor-in-chief, Can Dundar, saying he should face up to 20 years in prison on espionage charges, the state-run news agency Anadolu said.

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