Six journalists with Turkey’s Zaman newspaper today were given jail sentences of up to 10 years on terror-related charges following a ten-month trial. An additional five defendants in the case were acquitted.

The defendants faced a variety of charges based on articles published in Zaman prior to July 2016, including membership of a terrorist organization, attempting to overthrow the constitutional order, aiding a terrorist organization without being a member and carrying out propaganda for a terrorist organization.

Turkish authorities have accused Zaman of operating as a vehicle for the movement led by exiled cleric Fetüllah Gülen, whom the Turkish government considers to have been behind the attempted coup on July 15, 2016.

The defendants in the case are Şahin Alpay, Ahmet Turan Altan, Ali Bulaç, Lâlezar Sarıibrahimoğlu, İbrahim Karayeğen, Nuriye Ural, Mehmet Özdemir, İhsan Dağı, Mustafa Ünal, Mümtazer Türköne and Zaman’s lawyer, Orhan Kemal Cengiz.
Although all defendants were cleared of the charge of “attempting to overthrow the state order”, six of the defendants received sentences of between eight years and nine months and 10 years and six months. Two of the defendants, Mumtazer Türkone and İbrahim Karayeğen, remain in detention, despite a Turkish Constitutional Court ruling earlier this year, in a case involving Alpay and Altan, finding that extended pre-trial detention violated the right to liberty under Art. 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

IPI Turkey Advocacy Coordinator Caroline Stockford condemned the jail sentences.

“Whilst we welcome the acquittal of five of the Zaman defendants, it should be noted that they were subjected to a lengthy trial and detentions despite the indictment’s comprising mostly journalistic ‘evidence’ against them, published before the attempted coup of 2016”, she said. “The prosecutor’s indictment contained basic errors and was lacking in legal credibility. Many of the defendants such as Orhan Kemal Cengiz and Lâlezar Sarıibrahimoğlu had merely a few lines referring to them. The appeals process for the six defendants who were sentenced will be lengthy. It is clearly evident that the rule of law is not being applied in Turkey.”


Şahin Alpay: 8 years 9 months

Ali Bulaç: 8 years 9 months

Ahmet Turan Alkan: 8 years 9 months

İbrahim Karayeğen: 9 years

Mumtazer Türkone: 10 years 6 months (detained)

Mustafa Ünal: 10 years 6 months (detained)

ihsan Dagı: Acquitted

Lale Sarıibrahimoğlu: Acquitted

Nuriye Akman: Acquitted

Orhan Kemal Cengiz: Acquitted

Mehmet Özdemir: Acquitted