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Turkey: Journalists pay heavy price for standing against Erdogan

Six Turkish journalists have received life sentences for their alleged involvement in the failed July 2016 coup to oust President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
All six journalists are accused of having links to the US-based cleric Fethullah Gülen, who Turkish authorities claim orchestrated the coup. This is the first time that journalists have been convicted of charges relating to the uprising.
Those convicted include Ahmet Altan, former editor-in-chief of the Taraf newspaper, and his brother Mehmet Altan, an economic professor and journalist.
In January, Turkey’s highest court ordered Mehmet Altan’s release on the basis that his imprisonment had violated his constitutional rights, but a lower court refused to comply.
Prominent journalist Nazli Ilicak was also among those sentenced.
The Altan brothers were accused of giving coded messages in television talks shows and newspaper columns encouraging plotters to seize power, while maintaining their Gülenist network.
Three other defendants were sentenced to life in prison on charges of trying to abolish the constitution and overthrow the government.
Hürriyet Daily News reported that the aggravated life sentences mean the journalists will be held in solitary confinement for up to 23 hours a day, without parole and with limited visitation rights.
More than 250 people died in the uprising, with a further 1,500 injured. Authorities have detained more than 50,000 people and sacked or suspended more than 150,000 accused of involvement.

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