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Morning mists over the Asian side of Istanbul, Turkey in January 2018. A Turkish court on March 8, 2018, sentenced at least 22 journalists on terrorism-related charges, according to media reports. (Reuters/Goran Tomasevic)

Turkey sentences at least 22 journalists on terrorism-related charges

March 8, 2018 4:42 PM ET

Istanbul, March 8, 2018--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemned a Turkish court's decision today to sentence at least 22 journalists to prison on terrorism-related charges, and called on Turkish authorities to release them without delay.

"The sentencing in Istanbul today of at least 22 journalists on anti-state charges is a disgrace to Turkey's justice system, and we call on authorities to drop the charges on appeal," CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova said from New York. "Turkish authorities must stop equating journalism with terrorism, and release the scores of press workers jailed for doing their job."

The journalists all denied the charges, according to media reports.

The trial, with a total 29 defendants, made headlines in March 2017, when a court ordered that 21 of them be released pending trial. Twenty of those were re-arrested on the same day, and the judges who released the defendants were later relieved of their jobs. Of the 20 re-arrested, prosecutors charged 12 of them with the more serious offense of plotting the failed coup of July 2015, a crime that could have carried a life sentence without parole. Today, all the defendants were acquitted of the coup-related charges.

These are the journalists sentenced today, along with their outlets, convictions, and sentences:

- Atilla Taş, (columnist, daily Meydan); "knowingly and willingly aiding a [terrorist] organization," 37 months; free considering time served.

- Murat Aksoy (columnist, daily Yeni Hayat); "knowingly and willingly aiding a [terrorist] organization," 25 months; free considering time served.

- Ali Akkuş (editor, daily Zaman); "being a member of a [terrorist] organization," 7 years and 6 months.

- Ahmet Memiş (editor, news websites Haberdar and Rotahaber); "being a member of a [terrorist] organization," 7 years and 6 months.

- Yetkin Yıldız (editor, news website Aktif Haber); "being a member of a [terrorist] organization," 7 years and 6 months.

- Seyid Kılıç (technician, TRT Haber Radio); "being a member of a [terrorist] organization," 7 years and 6 months.

- Ünal Tanık (editor, news website Rotahaber); "being a member of a [terrorist] organization," 7 years and 6 months.

- Muhammed Sait Kuloğlu (publisher and owner, news website Subuhaber); "being a member of a [terrorist] organization," 7 years and 6 months.

- Cuma Ulus (editor, daily Millet); "being a member of a [terrorist] organization," 7 years and 6 months.

- Mustafa Erkan Acar (editor, daily Özgür Düşünce); "being a member of a [terrorist] organization," 7 years and 6 months.

- Mutlu Çölgeçen (editor, Millet); "being a member of a [terrorist] organization," 7 years and 6 months.

- Ufuk Şanlı (reporter, Millet); "being a member of a [terrorist] organization," 7 years and 6 months.

- Abdullah Kılıç (columnist, daily Meydan); "being a member of a [terrorist] organization," 6 years and 3 months.

- Bayram Kaya (reporter, daily Yeni Hayat); "being a member of a [terrorist] organization," 6 years and 3 months.

- Bünyamin Köseli (reporter, news magazine Aksiyon); "being a member of a [terrorist] organization," 6 years and 3 months.

- Cihan Acar (reporter, daily Bugün); "being a member of a [terrorist] organization," 6 years and 3 months.

- Yakup Çetin (reporter, Yeni Hayat); "being a member of a [terrorist] organization," 6 years and 3 months.

- Cemal Azmi Kalyoncu (reporter, Aksiyon); "being a member of a [terrorist] organization," 6 years and 3 months.

- Halil İbrahim Balta (reporter/ daily Yarına Bakış); "being a member of a [terrorist] organization," 6 years and 3 months.

- Habib Güler (reporter/Zaman); "being a member of a [terrorist] organization," 6 years and 3 months.

- Hanım Büşra Erdal (reporter/Zaman); "being a member of a [terrorist] organization," 6 years and 3 months.

- Hüseyin Aydın (reporter/Cihan News Agency); "being a member of a [terrorist] organization," 6 years and 3 months.

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