A Turkish court has sentenced a group of Cumhuriyet journalists and employees to jail for alleged links to a group the Turkish government blames for a failed coup attempt in July 2016.
According to the Birgün daily, 6 of them were convicted of aiding and abetting an armed terrorist organisation and were given prison terms of up to seven and a half years.
Several others were convicted on lesser charges.
Veteran journalist Ahmet Şık, Cumhuriyet daily Editor-in-Chief Murat Sabuncu and columnist Aydın Engin were given seven years, six months, while Cumhuriyet CEO Akın Atalay was sentenced to seven years, three months, 15 days. Publisher Orhan Erinç and columnist Hikmet Çetinkaya got six years, three months and editorial consultant Kadri Gürsel two years, six months. Three other Cumhuriyet employees, Önder Çelik, Hakan Kara, Mustafa Kemal Güngör, received three years, nine months in prison.
The staff of the newspaper –- long seen as a thorn in Erdoğan’s side and one of the few remaining voices critical of the government –- were charged with supporting the Gülen movement. “This was absolutely not a lawful verdict. At the end, it is a political case,” Özdemir said.
The case is one of several high-profile trials seen as emblematic of the broader crackdown since Erdoğan announced a state of emergency following a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016.
The court also ruled that the case against prominent journalist Can Dündar, previously the newspaper’s editor-in-chief, would continue separately, the Cumhuriyet daily reported.
All the convicted defendants, except Ahmet Kemal Aydoğdu, were released under judicial control. Cumhuriyet CEO Atalay, who was kept in pretrial detention for 542 days, was also released under the same conditions.