In response to a Turkish criminal court sentencing six journalists to life imprisonment for alleged involvement in a 2016 coup attempt, Freedom House issued the following statement:
“These appalling verdicts and prison sentences demonstrate that the justice system in Turkey is fully under political control,” said Michael J. Abramowitz, the president of Freedom House. “Lower courts are refusing to implement Constitutional Court decisions with which the government disagrees, and journalists are being sentenced to life in prison for what amounts to guilt by association. There is no justice where there are no independent courts.”
On February 16, 2018, six journalists—Mehmet Altan, Ahmet Altan, Nazlı Ilıcak, Fevzi Yazıcı, Yakup Şimsek, and Şükrü Tuğrul Özşengül—were convicted of attempting to overturn the constitutional order, and given aggravated life sentences. The journalists were arrested after the July 2016 coup attempt in Turkey. Turkey has the highest number of journalists in prison in the world.
Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.