Jailed Zaman columnist Alkan seen with wife in first photo from Turkish prison

A photo of Ahmet Turan Alkan, a columnist from the now-closed Zaman daily, with his wife during an open visit at Silivri Prison, where he has been jailed for almost two years, has been shared from the columnist’s Twitter account.

The photo, which was posted on Wednesday, shows him embracing his wife, Süheyla Alkan, with a smile on both their faces.

There is a note below the photo saying it was taken by the prison administration.

The journalist, who was arrested in the aftermath of a failed coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016, faces charges of violating the constitution, membership in a terrorist organization, disseminating the propaganda of a terrorist organization and aiding a terrorist organization. The prosecutor seeks a life sentence for Alkan.

The Zaman daily, once Turkey’s best-selling newspaper, was closed down along with dozens of other media outlets due to their links to the Gülen movement, which is accused by Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) government of masterminding the failed coup attempt.

During the latest hearing of his trial at the İstanbul 13th High Criminal Court on June 8, Alkan said during the 23 months he has spent in jail, state organs have found no evidence against him other than his articles and that two years of his life have been stolen from him.

Alkan said the reason he is standing trial is his articles about the Dec. 17-25, 2013 corruption probes in which then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s close circle was implicated.

“If you want to try me and seek an aggravated life sentence, then you should come with perfect, new, unquestionable evidence, not rumors found in the garbage of the Internet,” Alkan said, adding that he will not apologize to the government for “the trouble he caused” with his articles.

Turkey is ranked 157th among 180 countries in the 2018 World Press Freedom Index released by Reporters Without Borders (RSF). If Turkey falls two more places, it will make it to the list of countries on the blacklist, which have the poorest record in press freedom.

Turkey is the biggest jailer of journalists in the world. The most recent figures documented by SCF show that 243 journalists and media workers were in jail as of June 27, 2018, most in pretrial detention. Of those in prison 184 were under arrest pending trial while only 59 journalists have been convicted and are serving their time. Detention warrants are outstanding for 143 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 some 200 media outlets, including Kurdish news agencies and newspapers, after a coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016. (SCF with turkishminute.com)

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