Prosecutor demands lengthy prison sentences for Sözcü journalists, owner

Sözcü daily's license holder Burak Akbay.

A Turkish prosecutor on Thursday demanded lengthy prison sentences for columnists, reporters and media workers from the Sözcü daily on charges of supporting a terrorist organization, Turkish media reported.

A Turkish court had previously accepted an indictment accusing Sözcü executive Burak Akbay and staff members Gökmen Ulu, Mediha Olgun and Yonca Yücekaleli of supporting the Gülen movement without holding membership in it.

Another investigation was later launched into the daily’s editor-in-chief Metin Yılmaz, Internet editors Mustafa Çetin and Yücel Arı, and veteran columnists Emin Çölaşan and Necati Doğru on the same charges.

The two investigations were merged at the İstanbul 37th High Criminal Court, where the prosecutor is demanding five to 10 years’ imprisonment for the journalists.

The court also requested an Interpol Red Notice to bring Akbay, who has been living abroad, to Turkey. Akbay faces 30 years in prison for over his alleged links to the Gülen movement.

The Sözcü daily workers and journalists are accused of publishing reports raising concerns about the injustices that Gülen movement followers have been subjected to.

Çölaşan and Doğru wrote several columns that included letters from Turkish prisoners who were jailed for alleged membership in the Gülen movement.

The Erdoğan government accuses the movement of orchestrating a 2016 coup attempt, although it strongly denies any involvement. Since then over 500,000 people have been subjected to prosecution over Gülen links.

Turkey is ranked 157th among 180 countries in the 2019 World Press Freedom Index released by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) on Thursday. (SCF with

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