Veteran Turkish journalist sentenced to prison for insulting the president

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Seventy-four-year-old Turkish journalist Nazlı Ilıcak, who was previously sentenced to life in prison on charges related to a failed coup attempt in July 2016, received another sentence of one year, two months for openly insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the T24 news website reported on Wednesday.

Ilıcak was sentenced for what she tweeted on Feb. 23, 2016 in reaction to a debate around Selahattin Demirtaş, the now jailed former co-chair of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), which is focused on Kurdish issues.

“Is Selahattin Demirtaş a murderer? It is exactly this way of thinking that got Turkey bogged down in a swamp. It was Erdoğan who held talks with Öcalan, who was the real murderer,” Ilıcak had tweeted, referring to Abdullah Öcalan, the jailed leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Joining the hearing via teleconference, Ilıcak confirmed that she was the one who sent out the tweet while denying the allegation that it intended to call Erdoğan a murderer.

“I just reminded that Erdoğan was the one who conducted a peace process with him. If you consider the position of the conjunction in the phrase, you will see that I explicitly stated that Öcalan was the real murderer. It is not possible that I was referring to Erdoğan,” Ilıcak said.

First arrested in July 2016 following the coup attempt, Ilıcak was charged with membership in terrorist groups and attempting to overthrow the government and undermine the constitutional order. She was ultimately sentenced to aggravated life imprisonment in February 2018.

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