Former TV anchorman faces up to 15 years in prison on terrorism charges

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Bugün TV Anchorman Erkan Akkuş

An indictment drafted by an İstanbul prosecutor seeks a prison sentence of up to 15 years for Erkan Akkuş, a former anchorman at the now-closed Bugün TV, on charges of terrorist organization membership.

Akkuş, for whom a detention warrant had been outstanding since a failed coup attempt in 2016, was detained in August in northern Kocaeli province after an anonymous tip was received by the local police.

He was subsequently arrested and put in pretrial detention in İstanbul’s notorious Silivri Prison, where thousands of people are jailed, mostly on politically motivated charges.

The journalist’s trial will be held at a high criminal court in İstanbul.

Turkey accuses the faith-based Gülen movement of orchestrating the failed coup on July 15, 2016, although the movement strongly denies any involvement.

The Turkish government has launched a large-scale crackdown against its followers since then, but the movement became a target of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan after a 2013 police investigation that accused his close circle of corruption.

Bugün TV, a news channel owned by the İpek Medya Group, was seized by the government in November 2015 and turned into a pro-Erdoğan media outlet. It was shut down following the coup attempt.

Dozens of journalists have been arrested and received lengthy prison sentences over alleged Gülen links.

One of the leading jailers of journalists in the world, Turkey was ranked 154th out of 180 countries in the 2020 World Press Freedom Index published by Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

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