Istanbul prosecutors seek life sentences for 30 former Zaman newspaper employees
The Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office in Istanbul has demanded three aggravated life sentences for each of the 30 former Zaman Media Group employees, including editors and columnists, on charges of having links to the Fethullah Gülen network, the main suspect behind last year’s foiled coup attempt.
The suspects, who are former employees of the now shuttered Zaman newspaper, are accused of attempting to overthrow the Turkish government, the constitution, the parliament, and prevent its activities.
The prosecutor’s office also demanded an additional 15 years for each of the suspects on charges of “being members of a terror organization,” the Fethullah Gülenist Terror Organization (FETÖ).
Out of the 30 suspects, 21 have been remanded in custody since last summer.
According to the indictment prepared by prosecutor İsmet Bozkurt, former columnists Mümtaz’er Türköne, Şahin Alpay and Ali Bulaç are among the suspects.
A court in Istanbul is now expected to decide the case within 15 days.
The indictment said Zaman, which was founded in 1986, was totally taken over by FETÖ the next year, and survived due to money that came from members of the group.
Zaman was closed down by the Turkish state in May 2016 after being taken over.
The indictment also stated that the group started “using the media as a weapon” to “manipulate society.” It added that Zaman employed “columnists with ideas that could have supported the organization.”
The prosecutors said the columnists “exceeded the boundaries of freedom of the press and expression, used expressions that breached the rights of state officials and institutions, made remarks that could destroy social peace and order, did not hesitate to call for a military coup, and therefore performed their duty within the organization’s hierarchy with articles in line with its goals and targets.”
Meanwhile, in the main case into the FETÖ, the grant holder of Zaman has reportedly stated that he wants to benefit from the effective remorse law.