An indictment drafted by the İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office that seeks two consecutive life sentences for 13 people, including prominent Turkish journalists and pop singer Atilla Taş, on coup charges, was accepted by the 25th High Criminal Court in İstanbul on Friday, CNNTürk reported.
The journalists named in the indictment are National Party (UP) leader and Türk Solu weekly columnist Gökçe Fırat Çulhaoğlu, Yakup Çetin, Bünyamin Köseli, Cihan Acar, Abdullah Kılıç, Oğuz Usluer, Hüseyin Aydın, Murat Aksoy, Mustafa Erkan, Seyit Kılıç, Yetkin Yıldız, Ali Akkuş and famous pop singer Taş.
The indictment revealed that the suspects are accused of membership in a terrorist organization due to their stories, critical tweets and retweets.
The journalists are also accused of attempting to overthrow the constitutional order and membership in an armed terrorist organization called “FETÖ,” a derogatory acronym the Turkish government to describe for the faith-based Gülen movement.
The military coup attempt on July 15 killed over 240 people and wounded more than a thousand others. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.
Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.
According to a report by the state-run Anadolu news agency on May 28, 154,694 individuals have been detained and 50,136 have been jailed due to alleged Gülen links since the failed coup attempt.
Rights organizations estimate the number of jailed journalists in Turkey as between 160 and 235.
Amnesty International launched a campaign on Twitter late in March to support jailed journalists in Turkey, calling for their release, with the hashtag #FreeTurkeyMedia.
Turkey is ranked 155th among 180 countries in the 2017 World Press Freedom Index released by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) on April 26.
If Turkey falls four more ranks, it will make it to the list of the countries on the blacklist, which has the poorest records in press freedom.
The US-based Freedom House, an independent watchdog organization dedicated to the expansion of freedom around the world, has named Turkey as among the countries that have a “not free” press, in a report released on April 28.
According to “Freedom of the Press 2017,” the Turkish government, using enhanced powers under a state of emergency, carried out a massive purge of media outlets accused of links to the attempted military coup in July.
Turkey is the leading jailer of journalists in the world. The Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) has documented that 264 journalists are now in jails as of June 16, most in pre-trial detention languishing in notorious Turkish prisons without even a conviction. Of those in Turkish prisons, 240 are arrested pending trial, only 24 journalists remain convicted and serving time in Turkish prisons. An outstanding detention warrants remain for 105 journalists who live in exile or remain at large in Turkey.
Detaining tens of thousands of people over alleged links to the movement, the government also closed down more than 180 media outlets after the controversial coup attempt. (turkishminute.com) June 17, 2017