CHP leader slams life sentences handed down to prominent journalists

Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, chairman of the Republican People's Party’s (CHP), gives a speech during his party's parliamentary group meeting at the Grand National Assembly of Turkey (TBMM) in Ankara, Turkey on October 24, 2017. AFP

Leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has criticized the handing down of aggravated life sentences to three prominent journalists including the Altan brothers and Nazlı Ilıcak by a Turkish court last week, saying that the journalists had not resorted to any kind of violence.

Speaking at a meeting of his party on Tuesday, Kılıçdaroğlu said: “What kind of force or violence did these journalists use? As far as I know, they only had pens in their hands, not guns. They did not attack anyone or kill anyone. Why are they being punished for resorting to violence and force?” asked Kılıçdaroğlu.

An İstanbul high criminal court last Friday handed down aggravated life sentences to six journalists on charges of attempting to destroy the constitutional order.

Mehmet Altan, an economics professor and journalist, and his journalist brother Ahmet, were charged with sending coded messages on a television talk show a day before the abortive July 15 military coup in 2016. Ilıcak, another veteran journalist, and two former employees of the now-closed Zaman newspaper, Zaman brand marketing manager Yakup Şimşek and art director Fevzi Yazıcı, as well as former Police Academy lecturer Şükrü Tuğrul Özşengül were also given aggravated life sentences.

Both Mehmet Altan and Ahmet Altan, who were detained on Sept. 10, 2016, were accused of sending “subliminal” messages regarding the failed coup on a TV show a day before the putsch.

The Altan brothers are prominent journalists who have been unequivocally critical of the regime of President Erdoğan.

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