A total of 520 journalists appeared in court in 2018, and 112 of them were given jail sentences of varying durations including aggravated life, the aktifhaber news website reported on Monday.
Ahmet Altan, Mehmet Altan, Nazlı Ilıcak, Fevzi Yazıcı, Şükrü Tuğrul Özşengül and Yakup Şimşek are the journalists who were given aggravated life sentences.
The journalists were handed down the sentences by the İstanbul 26th High Criminal Court in February after their conviction of attempting to destroy the constitutional order.
In the same year, one journalist was killed and 66 others were arrested while 142 were detained in Turkey, according to aktifhaber.
Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist and columnist for The Washington Post, went missing after entering the Saudi Consulate General in İstanbul in early October.
After initially saying he had left the consulate alive, Saudi Arabia admitted weeks later that he was killed there, blaming his death on a group of rogue Saudi operatives.
The news website said there are around 200 journalists in Turkey’s prisons.
The journalists were given the jail sentences mainly on charges of membership in a terrorist organization, leading a terrorist organization or aiding a terrorist organization without membership in it.
Many of the jailed journalists used to work for pro-Kurdish media outlets or in media outlets affiliated with the Gülen movement, which is accused by the Turkish government of masterminding a failed coup attempt on July 15,2016. The movement strongly denies any involvement.
A few of the jailed journalists were released in 2018. One of them was Turkish-German journalist Deniz Yücel who was released pending trial in February 2018 after spending one year in pre-trial detention facing terrorism charges.
Veteran journalists Şahin Alpay and Mehmet Altan were also released from jail in 2018 after Turkey’s Constitutional Court ruled that they should be released due to a violation of their rights.
According to a report released by media freedom advocacy group the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) in December 2018, Turkey remains the world’s worst jailer of journalists with at least 68 journalists behind bars due to their work, slightly lower than in previous years. However, when it comes to imprisoned journalists CPJ’s numbers are traditionally lower than other media advocacy groups due to differing methodologies. For instance, the Stockholm Center for Freedom, established by exiled Turkish journalists, reported that as of Dec. 7, 2018, 242 journalists and media workers were behind bars in Turkey, most in pretrial detention, giving their names and professional affiliation.