Following the sentencing of six former columnists and editors of the shuttered Zaman newspaper to jail terms of between eight-and-a-half and ten-and-a-half years, and the acquittal of five others, Fotis Filippou, Amnesty International’s Campaign Director for Europe said:
“Yet again, journalists have received criminal convictions under anti-terror laws with nothing more than their critical writings presented as evidence. These absurd convictions have sent a further shock through Turkey’s already devastated media landscape. They must be overturned immediately.
“Whilst all were acquitted of ‘attempting to overthrow the constitutional order’ and five were acquitted of all charges, the conviction of six journalists on terrorism charges without a shred of credible evidence against them shows that the systematic attempt to silence the media in Turkey continues.”
İhsan Dağı, Lale Sarıibrahimoğlu, Nuriye Ural Akman, Mehmet Özdemir and Orhan Kemal Cengiz were acquitted.
Ahmet Turan Alkan, Şahin Alpay and Ali Bulaç were sentenced to eight years and nine months. Mustafa Ünal and Mümtazer Türköne were sentence to 10 years and six months. İbrahim Karayeğen was sentenced to nine years.
The “Zaman trial” opened on 18 September 2017, 14 months after many of its defendants were imprisoned pending their prosecution. The court ruling came at the end of the fifth hearing in the case. Four of the 11 defendants have spent almost two years in pre-trial detention.
On 6 June, Amnesty International marked the one year anniversary of the arrest of the Honorary Chair of Amnesty Turkey Taner Kılıç.