The Ankara 22nd High Criminal Court has handed down jail sentences of varying lengths to journalists from state-run Turkish Radio and Television (TRT) on charges of membership in a terrorist group, the Anadolu news agency reported.
According to Anadolu, Ahmet Özdemir, Ali Hancı, Ahmet Çat, Beşir Elmas, Abdullah Yeldan, Enes Bora, Evren Kara, Koray Demirci, Selçuk Çelik, Şaban Harman, Özkan Püsküllü, Hüseyin Arslan, Özgür Aksoy, Salih Üzer, Mehmet Kuş, Ali Suat Günek, Emrah Timuçun Yazıcı, Kubilay Süslü, Ertan Rıdha, Murat Karaca, Hamza Günerigök and Ali Fuat Ayhan received sentences of six years, three months each on conviction of “membership in an armed terrorist organization.”
Cumali Çaygeç, Ayhan Baykara, İbrahim Öztürk, Sinan Güneş, Sezai Yavaş, Tuğrul Çakır, Serkan Canbaz, Yunus Ayhan, Şefik Cürebal, Hakan Karaca and Nurdan Ayşe Coşkun were sentenced to six years, 10 months and 15 days in prison. Eşref Üzüm, Orhan Tokmak, Osman Taha Sirkeci and Niyazi Özkan were handed down sentences of seven years, six months each.
Mehmet Akif Öztürk and Eyüp Keser were given eight years, nine months on similar charges.
The court also ordered the release of defendants Cuma Çaygeç, Serkan Canbaz, Sezai Yavaş and Tuğrul Çakır pending appeal.
Turkey is the biggest jailer of journalists in the world. The most recent figures documented by SCF show that 212 journalists and media workers were in jail as of Feb. 27, 2019, most in pretrial detention. Of those in prison 135 were under arrest pending trial, while only 77 journalists have been convicted and are serving their time. Detention warrants are outstanding for 168 journalists who are living in exile or remain at large in Turkey. (SCF with Turkey Purge)