Turkish court gives prison sentence to veteran journos Ilıcak, Altan in retrial

A Turkish court has sentenced veteran journalists Nazlı Ilıcak, Ahmet Altan, and Fevzi Yazıcı to prison for “knowingly and willingly helping a terrorist organization.” The journalists were charged with aiding the media organization of the Gülenist network, outlawed as a terrorist organization in Turkey. 

Duvar English

A Turkish heavy penal court on Feb. 14 sentenced journalists Nazlı Ilıcak, Ahmet Altan, and Fevzi Yazıcı to prison for "aiding the media network of Gülenists," dubbed the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ) by Turkish authorities. The journalists were retried, as a high court had overruled the 2021 appellate court ruling for their release. 

The court held that the journalists knew about the July 15 coup attempt, believed to be orchestrated by the Gülen network. 

The prosecutor held that Ilıcak's interview with Zekeriya Öz, a prosecutor and staunch supporter of Fethullah Gülen, and her 2012 book titled "Is the Cemaat (Network) under Every Rock?" were proof that she tried to exonerate the network.  

Ilıcak held in her defense statement that she was being charged with acts of journalism. Öz was not considered a terror organization member during the interview, said Ilıcak. She added that her book was in line with the government's stance on the Gülen network at that time. 

"Just as the government officials were tricked, I was too," she said. Some government officials had admitted to being "tricked" into maintaining a close relationship with the network before the coup attempt. 

Yazıcı served as the visual director of the now-closed Zaman Newspaper, which was associated with the Gülen network. Three columnists of the daily were also tried in 2021. 

A court in 2016 sentenced Ilıcak and Altan to life for “abetting a terrorist organization” and “attempting to abolish the constitutional order.” The journalists served three years until an appeals court ruled to charge them with only abettal, reducing their sentence. They were released as they had served three years of their sentences. 

Altan was arrested again one week after the release, citing the gravity of the crimes and the risk of him fleeing. The arrest sparked criticism in international journalist circles. He was released in 2021, after four and a half years behind bars. 

The court ruled to acquit journalist Yakup Şimşek for “knowingly and willingly helping a terrorist organization,” who was also retried alongside Ilıcak, Altan, and Yazıcı. 

The defendants pleaded innocence and requested their acquittal in court, according to reporting by ANKA. 

Ilıcak was sentenced to five years three months, Altan to six years, and Yazıcı to two years.