Turkish journalist Mehmet Kuru was sentenced by a Turkish court to 6 years and 3 months prison term only for the fact that he used to be working for the critical Zaman daily.
Zaman newspaper, one-time largest circulated daily in Turkey with 1.2 million copies sold at its peak, was unlawfully seized by the government in March 2016 and turned into government mouthpiece overnight. It was later shut down in July 2016 by Turkish government with a statutory decree over its alleged affiliation with the Gülen movement in the aftermath of a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2017.
According to a report by Aktif Haber online news portal, the Eskişehir 2nd High Criminal Court has directed just one charge against Zaman daily’s Eskişehir reporter Mehmet Kuru. His crime was the job he had with Zaman daily.
The court accused of Kuru as “being a member of a terror organisation” solely by basing on the fact that he had worked for Zaman daily for 16 years as reporter and sentenced him to 6 years and 3 months prison term.
Turkey is the biggest jailer of journalists in the world. The most recent figures documented by the Stockholm Centre for Freedom (SCF) has showed that 259 journalists and media workers are now in jails as of October 17, 2017, most in pre-trial detention languishing in notorious Turkish prisons without even a conviction. Of those in Turkish prisons, 235 are arrested pending trial, only 24 journalists remain convicted and serving time in Turkish prisons. An outstanding detention warrants remain for 133 journalists who live 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 more than 180 media outlets after the controversial coup attempt.
Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.
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.
Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15. Turkey’s Justice Ministry announced on July 13 that 50,510 people have been arrested and 169,013 have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.