Mar 01 2018

Turkish journalist serving life gets 5 more years

Ahmet Altan, a prominent Turkish journalist who was sentenced to life in prison without parole just two weeks ago, was convicted of a separate offence on Wednesday carrying a five-year jail sentence.

Altan was convicted on two charges for an article he wrote for the Haberdar news website. He was found to have supported terrorism by depicting the actions of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an autonomy-seeking armed group, as innocent by writing that children had dug trenches in the southeast of the country to fight Turkish soldiers.

The court also ruled that Altan had insulted Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the same article, a criminal offence in Turkey, Reuters reported.

Altan, his brother Mehmet and four other journalists were sentenced to life in jail in February for aiding plotters of a 2016 failed coup. The Altan brothers and another journalist Nazlı Ilıcak were found guilty of giving coded messages on a television show a day before the coup attempt. They deny the charges.

The verdicts have been criticized by the United Nations and human rights groups, who point to the rising authoritarianism of Erdoğan and his government. Turkey has jailed tens of thousands of people since the coup attempt on terrorism charges and many remain in prison without trial.