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Turkish court sentences 14 journalists on terrorism charges

[JURIST] An Istanbul court on Wednesday sentenced [Anadolu news] 14 journalists from opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet Daily [media website] to various prison terms over terrorism-related charges.

According to Turkish state news agency Anadolu, the CEO, editor-in-chief and several journalists received sentences between four and eight years "on charges of acting on behalf of a terrorist group without being members."

"At the first hearing in the case in July 2016, the suspects were indicted for sponsoring the The Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) [BBC profile], Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) [CBC profile], and leftist Revolutionary People's Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C) terrorist groups."

All 14 staff have been released pending appeal, and editor-in-chief Murat Sabuncu tweeted [tweet, Turkish] his reaction to the judgment.

"They handed down a seven and a half year penalty. Let them know that I will not stoop to fear. I will stay in this country and I will conduct journalism with courage from now on just as until today. No verdict can kill my love of the country and profession."

The sentencing comes after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan [BBC profile] expedited the dates for new presidential and parliamentary elections by more than a year, in addition to Turkish lawmakers extending the nations state of emergency for the seventh extension since an attempted coup in 2016.

The verdict is seen by some as a politically motivated crackdown to instill fear and silence in opposing voices.

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