Jailed journalist Ilıcak appears in Turkish court on espionage charges

Veteran Turkish journalist Nazlı Ilıcak was arrested on July 29, 2016.

Renowned journalist Nazlı Ilıcak, who was jailed in the aftermath of a failed coup attempt in Turkey in July 2016 and given an aggravated life sentence in February on charges of attempting to destroy the constitutional order, appeared in court again on Monday, this time facing espionage charges.

Ilıcak’s trial stems from a case opened against her due to an article she wrote in 2015 titled “Military intelligence and Tahşiyeciler,” an allegedly al-Qaeda-affiliated group.

The journalist is accused of publishing a secret document about Tahşiyeciler from the records of the General Staff in the Bugün daily on Jan. 2, 2015. Ilıcak is facing a life sentence for espionage.

In her defense at the İstanbul 26thHigh Criminal Court on Monday, Ilıcak said many people used to send documents to her Twitter account because she is a journalist and that the document in question was sent to her Twitter account.

“I don’t know to whom else this document was sent and for what purpose it was sent,” said Ilıcak.

The journalist also said her action falls within the boundaries of journalism and that the statute of limitations for opening a case concerning a journalistic activity according to Turkey’s Press Code is four months.

One of Ilıcak’s lawyers, Tuğper Derin, asked the court to drop the charges against Ilıcak. The court adjourned the trial to a later date.

Ilıcak is among the dozens of journalists who were arrested in the aftermath of the failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016. She has been behind bars since July 30, 2016 and received an aggravated life sentence in February along with five other journalists.

Turkey is the biggest jailer of journalists in the world. The most recent figures documented by SCF show that 245 journalists and media workers were in jail as of April 4, 2018, most in pretrial detention. Of those in prison 188 were under arrest pending trial while only 57 journalists have been convicted and are serving their time. Detention warrants are outstanding for 140 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 about 200 media outlets after the controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016. (SCF with turkishminute.com)

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