Turkey: 6 journalists sentenced to life over failed coup

A court in Silivri, on the outskirts of Istanbul, convicted prominent journalists Ahmet Altan, Mehmet Altan and Nazli Ilicak and three other media sector employees of crimes against the state. (AFP)
Updated 16 February 2018

Turkey: 6 journalists sentenced to life over failed coup

ISTANBUL: A court on Friday sentenced six journalists and media employees accused of involvement in Turkey’s 2016 failed coup attempt to life prison terms, the country’s state-run news agency reported.
Anadolu Agency said the court in Silivri, on the outskirts of Istanbul, convicted prominent journalists Ahmet Altan, Mehmet Altan and Nazli Ilicak and three other media sector employees of crimes against the state. One other defendant was acquitted.
They are the first journalists to be convicted over the July 15, 2016, coup, which Turkey says was orchestrated by a network led by US-based Muslim cleric, Fethullah Gulen. The cleric denies involvement. Their conviction came as another court in the same courthouse ordered German journalist Deniz Yucel — detained in Turkey for a year — released from jail pending trial.
The defendants, who are expected to appeal the ruling, were charged with attempts against Turkey’s constitution and membership in a terror organization. The group were employed by Gulen-linked media organizations but have rejected the charges, denying any involvement in the coup attempt.
More than 38,000 people, including journalists, are in jail as part of an ongoing large-scale government crackdown on Gulen’s network of followers, launched in the aftermath of the coup. More than 110,000 have been sacked from government jobs.
Ahmet Altan, a former newspaper chief editor, and his brother, Mehmet Altan — a columnist and academic — were accused of appearing together with veteran journalist Ilicak in a political debate show on a Gulen-linked television channel. Prosecutors deemed that their comments indicated they had prior knowledge of the coup attempt.
In January, Turkey’s Constitutional Court ruled that Mehmet Altan and Sahin Alpay — another journalist being tried separately — should be released pending the outcome of their trials. But a lower court refused to implement the decision, raising concerns about rule of law in the country.


Thailand suspends TV station over protests coverage

Updated 20 October 2020

Thailand suspends TV station over protests coverage

  • Thailand said on Monday that three other media organizations are under investigation
  • Protests have only gained momentum since the government announced a ban last Thursday and arrested dozens of protesters

BANGKOK: A Thai court on Tuesday ordered the suspension of an online TV station critical of the government, which has accused it of violating emergency measures aimed at ending three months of protests.
Voice TV had also been found to have breached the Computer Crime Act by uploading “false information,” digital ministry spokesman Putchapong Nodthaisong told reporters.
Thailand has drawn criticism from rights groups for banning demonstrations and the publication of news seen as damaging by the government as it tries to end the protests against Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and the powerful monarchy.
Rittikorn Mahakhachabhorn, Editor-in-Chief of Voice TV, said it would continue broadcasting until the court order arrived.
“We insist that we have been operating based on journalistic principles and we will continue our work presently,” he said.
Thailand said on Monday that three other media organizations are under investigation.
Voice TV is owned in part by the Shinawatra family of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his sister Yingluck, who was overthrown by Prayuth in a 2014 coup. Both fled Thailand to escape corruption cases they branded political.
Street protests since mid-July are the biggest challenge in decades to the monarchy under King Maha Vajiralongkorn and to Prayuth, who rejects accusations of engineering an election last year to keep power.
The demonstrations have been largely led by youths and students in contrast with a decade of street violence between supporters of Thaksin and conservative royalists before Prayuth seized power.
Protests have only gained momentum since the government announced a ban last Thursday and arrested dozens of protesters, including many of the main leaders.
A lawyer for two of them, Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak and Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul, said they would be arrested again on Tuesday as soon as they had been freed on bail granted by a court over earlier charges related to the protests.
Prime Minister Prayuth has said he will not quit in the face of the protests.
His cabinet agreed on Tuesday to hold an emergency session of parliament next week about the crisis. Prayuth’s supporters hold a majority in the parliament, whose upper house was named entirely by his former junta.