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Turkey's top court says journalists' rights violated: NTV

Turkey’s Constitutional Court ruled on Thursday that authorities had violated the freedom of expression and personal security of two journalists detained on terrorism charges after the 2016 attempted coup, broadcaster NTV said.

Fourteen staff of newspaper Cumhuriyet, one of the few remaining voices critical of the government, were sentenced last April to jail terms of up to eight years and one month on charges of terrorism and supporting US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen whom Ankara blames for organizing the coup attempt.

The defendants had been released pending an appeals process.

Six staff were sent to jail last week to serve out the remainder of their sentences, two of their lawyers said.

Kadri Gursel, a former journalist at Cumhuriyet who was released from prison pending his trial, had been freed due to time served in February. Murat Aksoy was detained in September 2016 and sentenced to more than two years in prison last March.

On Thursday, the Constitutional Court (AYM) ruled that Gursel and Aksoy’s personal security and freedom of expression had been violated, NTV said.

It said the AYM had rejected appeals by four other staff of Cumhuriyet. The AYM will evaluate appeals by three other journalists on Friday, NTV said.

Human rights organizations have voiced increasing concern about media freedom in Turkey, accusing President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of using the abortive putsch as a pretext to quash dissent.

Erdogan and his government blame Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999, for orchestrating the attempted coup. Gulen has denied involvement.

Since then, more than 77,000 people have been jailed pending trial, while about 150,000 civil servants and military personnel have been sacked or suspended from their jobs.

 

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