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Zaman journalist Soncan: I am honored to be in prison for my views

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Emre Soncan, a former reporter for the Zaman daily’s Ankara bureau, said on Tuesday that he is honored to be behind bars for what he has thought and reported.

Speaking during a hearing at the İstanbul 25th High Criminal Court on Tuesday, Soncan said he has been behind bars for 500 days simply for reporting for Zaman.

Underlining that he felt sorry when the judge asked whether he wanted to confess and benefit from the “effective remorse law,” Soncan said: “I was distressed to be asked that question because a journalist never regrets being in jail for his views. It is an honor.”

According to the text of Soncan’s testimony before the court, which was first published on the TR724 website on Tuesday, Soncan also addressed the judges of the court, saying they shouldn’t be afraid of making their own free decisions.

“Don’t be scared. The robe of a judge is his or her shield. This shield never fear-proof. Similarly, views and thoughts are,” he said.

According to the decision of the İstanbul 25th High Criminal Court on Tuesday, 20 journalists who were jailed following a failed coup in July 2016, including Soncan, will remain behind bars. The next hearing will be held on Feb. 6, 2018.

There are now 20 jailed journalists in the trial of members of media outlets that were closed by the government over alleged links to the Gülen movement.

Journalist suspects in the trial mainly worked with the now-closed Zaman, Meydan and Bugün dailies and are accused of supporting the movement by having accounts with Bank Asya and using the ByLock mobile phone application, both considered by Turkish authorities to be evidence of links to the movement.

Bank Asya, once Turkey’s largest Islamic bank, was seized and later closed down by a government decision following the failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

ByLock is a smartphone application that Turkish authorities believe is widely used by Gülen movement followers as a communication tool.

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