Turkish appeals court approves life sentences for jailed journalist Ilıcak, Altan brothers

A Turkish appeals court on Tuesday approved the aggravated life sentences of veteran journalist Nazlı Ilıcak, author and journalist Ahmet Altan and his brother, columnist and professor of economics Mehmet Altan for attempting to overthrow the constitutional order through the use of force and violence​, Cumhuriyet newspaper reported.

The Altan brothers and Ilıcak were detained in Sept. 2016, in a crackdown against thinkers and writers following the failed July 2016 coup attempt and given life sentences in February. The three who appeared in court on Tuesday for the final appeal hearing on Tuesday are charged with attempting to overthrow the “constitutional order,” “interfering with the work of the national assembly,” and “interfering with the work of the government” through violence or force.

‘’This injustice has hurt me,’’ Ilıcak said in her final defence statement. ‘’Almost all of the columnists who had been placed behind bars have been released, including those from Zaman newspaper. I did not commit a crime. I ask for my acquittal.’’

Ilıcak has previously denied alleged links to the Gülen movement, which Ankara accuses of masterminding the 2016 coup attempt.

Ahmet Altan and Ilıcak are serving aggravated life sentences, as such, they are not eligible for parole and will not be considered in future amnesty decisions.

Mehmet Altan was released on June 27 by an İstanbul regional court  conditional on his not leaving the country and checking in with police once a week. Altan, along with fellow journalist Şahin Alpay, had previously twice won rulings in favour of their release from Turkey’s Constitutional Court, and twice these rulings had been overturned by a lower court in violation of the usual judicial hierarchy.

More than 50,510 people have been arrested and 169,013 have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed putsch, according to Turkey’s Justice Ministry.