Jailed journalist with cancer losing hope after higher court upholds conviction

A jailed Turkish journalist diagnosed with cancer has been losing hope to survive, according to his daughter, after a regional appeals court upheld his conviction on charges of terrorism.

“They will kill my father. Doesn’t anyone hear my voice?” the daughter tweeted.

Mevlüt Öztaş has been in jail for two-and-a-half years for alleged membership in the faith-based Gülen movement, which is accused by the government of orchestrating a 2016 coup attempt, although it strongly denies any involvement.

He was sentenced to nine-year-three-month jail time by a local court recently.

Öztaş, a father of four, had worked for the private Cihan news agency, affiliated with the movement, for more than 20 years.

“Today the appeals court upheld the verdict: no release. All those petitions [due to his health] — the decision did not even mention his health,” Büşra Öztaş, the daughter of the journalist, tweeted on Thursday.

Turkey has released thousands of inmates due to the threat of coronavirus spreading in penal facilities, but it excluded political prisoners, including dozens of journalists who were jailed on accusations of violating the country’s counterterrorism laws.

Many observers believe the laws have been used against critics of the government.

“Today is my father’s birthday. I would love to herald it with a release decision. But I can only say, ‘Take care of yourself’,” Büşra tweeted, adding: “And he wept, saying ‘I’ve become a burden for you. You couldn’t take care of yourselves because of me’.”  (turkishminute.com)

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