Ali Akkuş, a news editor for the shuttered daily Zaman, is one of several journalists imprisoned after the failed 2016 coup attempt. He was initially detained in July 2016 and held until 2017, when a court released him pending the outcome of his trial. At a joint trial in 2018, Akkuş was found guilty of being a member of a terrorist organization.
Akkuş was taken into custody on March 8, 2018 after an Istanbul court sentenced him to seven years and six months in prison, according to reports.
Police first detained Akkuş alongside dozens of other journalists in July 2016 as part of a broad purge of suspected followers of exiled preacher Fethullah Gülen, whom the Turkish government accuses of maintaining a terrorist organization and "parallel state structure" (FETÖ/PDY, by its Turkish acronym) and of masterminding a July 15, 2016, failed military coup.
An Istanbul court in March 2016 ordered the Feza Media Group, which owned Zaman and several other media outlets, placed under trustees appointed by the government on the grounds that the court considered it a FETÖ/PDY mouthpiece. The government used emergency powers assumed after the failed July 15, 2016, military coup to order the newspaper closed by decree on July 27, 2016.
In the indictment against Akkuş, prosecutors cited as evidence the journalist’s employment at Zaman, as well as several of his tweets that were allegedly critical of the government and its oppression of Turkish media.
A court on April 14, 2017, ordered Akkuş to be released pending the outcome of the trial, local reports said.
Cüneyt Toraman, the lawyer representing Akkuş, did not return CPJ’s calls in late 2019. Other lawyers representing journalists in the joint trial said that as of late 2019, the Supreme Court of Appeals had not reviewed an appeal of the joint trial. Akkuş is in Silivri prison, the lawyers said.
CPJ was unable to locate contact details for the journalist’s family. As of late 2019, CPJ was not able to determine the state of his health.