Seven journalists and other employees of the opposition newspaper were sentenced to prison terms on Friday for helping a network that Ankara says is the mastermind behind the 2016 coup attempt, the Turkish newspaper Suzhou reported.
The newspaper, which is one of the pillars of the secular establishment in Turkey, described the ruling as a stain in the history of the free press, and said that the eight defendants who appeared before the court in the final session demanded innocence.
Ankara has been waging a crackdown on suspected followers of Fethullah Gulen, a cleric based in the United States, since the July 2016 coup attempt in which about 250 people were killed, and operations targeting the network are still taking place regularly.
The newspaper said that the prominent Journalists Colasan, Necati Dogru, were sentenced to three years and six months, according to Anadolu. Metin Yilmaz, the paper’s editor-in-chief, and its online edition’s managing editor, Mustafa Cetin, were handed just over three years. The newspaper’s financial manager, Yonca Yucelan, news editor Yucel Ari and journalist Gokmen Ulu were hit with two-year prison terms.
The court acquitted the video cameraman Madiha Olgun, and postponed the verdict on the newspaper’s owner, Barak Akbay, who is being tried in absentia.
In the three years since the coup attempt, more than 77,000 people have been imprisoned pending trial, and about 150,000 civilians, military personnel and other jobs have been sacked.