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Sep 22 2018

Jailed journalist says deceived by Gülen movement, asks for release

Jailed journalist Nazlı Ilıcak on Friday said she was deceived the by the Gülen movement as she asked for her release in the case she is charged with espionage for publishing official documentation, pro-government NTV news site reported.

Prosecutors have demanded the 73-year-old veteran journalist be given a life sentence on charges of “disclosing confidential information crucial to state security for espionage purposes.”  Ilıcak has already been sentenced to life imprisonment on charges of attempting to overthrow the constitutional order on the grounds of what the court said were links to the Gülen movement, which the Turkish government blames for the 2016 coup attempt. Ilıcak, Turkey’s most senior female journalist, is one of the dozens of reporters jailed in Turkey as part of a widespread crackdown since the attempted putsch. 

"I would like to submit the many tweets I posted on the night of July 15 [2016]. On that night I posted many tweets saying that a coup could not implemented in such a way and that it would end in a disaster for the country. I said that even if you don’t like President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, such attempts would damage the country. I presented all of these as documents to the court, but unfortunately none of them were taken into consideration. I wrote articles which opposed a coup two months before it took place,’’ a tearful Ilıcak said during her testimony.

Ilıcak noted she never worked for a media outlet affiliated with the Gülen movement and she saw the ‘’criminal side’’ of the movement following the July 2016 coup.

"Not that I see this as a crime. I have 42 years of experience as a journalist but I never worked at a newspaper affiliated with the movement,’’ NTV quoted Ilıcak as saying.

Ilıcak pointed out that she fought for the freedom of headscarves alongside the movement in 2013, when Turkey, under the leadership of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP),  lifted a decades-old ban on headscarves in the civil service as part of a package of reforms by the government.

Ilicak accompanied then fellow Virtue Party (FP) lawmaker Merve Kavakci in May of 1999 when Turkish parliament erupted in protest to Kavakci's arrival for the swearing in ceremony with a headscarf.

Erdoğan's leading Justice and Development Party (AKP) fell out dramatically with the Gülenists in 2013, following a decade-long alliance. when prosecutors accused members of Erdoğan’s inner circle of corruption.