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EFJ: Conviction of Turkey’s Zaman journalists a politically motivated decision

Prosecuting workers solely on the basis of their work employment is not ruling based on facts but a politically motivated decision, the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) said with regards to conviction of Zaman journalists.

“Our colleagues from Zaman newspaper did not take part to the coup attempt and have condemned it afterwards. Prosecuting workers solely on the basis of their work employment is not ruling based on facts but a politically motivated decision. The Turkish authorities must drop all the charges and release the journalists and columnists”, EFJ said on July 9.

Six journalists and columnists have been heavily sentenced to prison by a court in Istanbul for alleged membership to an armed illegal terrorist organization. The suspects were all working for the late Zaman daily newspaper banned by the Turkish authorities following the failed coup attempt of July 15, 2016.

The court found six journalists guilty of “being a member of an armed  organization” based on their articles and opinions expressed in the newspaper. Ali Bulaç, Şahin Alpay, and Ahmet Turan Alkan were sentenced to 8 years and 9 months in prison; Mümtaz’er Türköne and Mustafa Ünal were sentenced to 10 years and 6 months in prison and İbrahim Karayeğen was sentenced to 9 years in prison.

Turkey is ranked 157th among 180 countries in the 2018 World Press Freedom Index released by Reporters Without Borders (RSF). If Turkey falls two more places, it will make it to the list of countries on the blacklist, which have the poorest record in press freedom.

Turkey is the biggest jailer of journalists in the world. The most recent figures documented by SCF show that 239 journalists and media workers were in jail as of July 9, 2018, most in pretrial detention. Of those in prison 178 were under arrest pending trial while only 61 journalists have been convicted and are serving their time. Detention warrants are outstanding for 143 journalists who are living in exile or remain at large in Turkey.

Detaining tens of thousands of people over alleged links to the Gülen movement, the government also closed down some 200 media outlets, including Kurdish news agencies and newspapers, after a coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016.

 

Source: SCF

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