Turkey sentences 25 journalists to jail over failed coup

Turkish court sentences 25 journalists to jail for allegedly aiding network of Erdogan rival.

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Ben Ariel,

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A Turkish court on Thursday sentenced 25 journalists to jail for allegedly aiding the network that Turkey accuses of orchestrating a failed coup in 2016, Reuters reported, citing the state-run Anadolu news agency.

Prominent newspaper journalist Murat Aksoy was sentenced to 25 months in prison on charges of aiding a terrorist organization without being a member. Pop singer and columnist Atilla Tas was sentenced to 37 months on the same charges.

Eleven reporters in the same case were handed six years and three months for membership of an armed terrorist organization, while 12 others were sentenced to seven years and six months on the same charges, according to the report.

The court acquitted one defendant.

The reporters mainly worked for publications that have been closed down by the government for links to the network of the U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen.

Gulen, a longtime rival of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, currently resides in exile in the United States. He leads a popular movement called Hizmet and split from Erdogan over a corruption scandal in 2013. Erdogan has long accused him of running a parallel state from abroad.

Gulen is accused by Turkey of orchestrating the failed coup plot in July of 2016. The cleric, who denies the claims, has hinted that the uprising by members of the country’s military could have been “staged” by the government.

Since the failed coup, Turkey has been holding a massive crackdown on people it claims are affiliated with Gulen’s movement. More than 50,000 people have been arrested – including some 150 last week alone – and more than 110,000 people have been dismissed from state jobs.

On Thursday, authorities detained 32 members of the Turkish military suspected of links to the Gulen network in an operation centered in the northwestern province of Tekirdag and spread across nine others, Anadolu said.

Separately, Istanbul police said they had issued warrants for 121 people suspected of links to the same network and detained 33 of them in the operation spread across 28 other provinces.