Turkish appeals court upholds convictions of journalists
© WikiMedia (Hilmi Hacaloğlu)

Turkish appeals court upholds convictions of journalists

An Appeals Court in Turkey on Tuesday upheld the convictions of 14 employees of Cumhuriyet, a Turkish news outlet that has been critical of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

The defendants—including journalists, a cartoonist, executives and accountants—were sentenced in April to prison terms between four and eight years “on charges of acting on behalf of a terrorist group without being members.” The Third Criminal Chamber of the Istanbul Regional Court of Justice reviewed and upheld each of these sentences on Tuesday.

In Turkey, sentences less than five years cannot be overturned once they are upheld by an appellate court, meaning that eight of the defendants will now serve out their terms in prison. The remaining defendants with longer sentences plan to appeal to Turkey’s Supreme Court.

The Cumhuriyet staff are among more than 77,000 people who have been jailed following a failed 2016 coup against Erdoğan as the Turkish government has moved to curtail opposition.

Amnesty International condemned the decision as an attack on the free press:

The prosecution of scores of journalists and other media workers is an ongoing affront to press freedom and to justice. By using the courts to increase their stranglehold on the media, the authorities have once again displayed the ugly side of Turkey’s broken judicial system. This should ring alarm bells for anyone who cares about freedom of expression.