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更新时间:2017/6/21 9:44:09 来源:本站原创 作者:佚名

In a packed Istanbul courthouse the trial of 17 journalists, accused of being involved in July’s failed coup, got underway Monday. All are facing long sentences, including life if convicted.


Prosecutors allege the journalists belong to a network of followers of the U.S. based Turkish Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen, who Turkey's government blames for the coup attempt.


Nazli Ilicak is a leading newspaper columnist who rejected the accusations, telling the court she was a supporter of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan before he came to power and spent her life opposing coups, pointing out her father was a senior minister who had been jailed following a 1960 military takeover.


The first three hours of Monday’s hearing was taken up reading the more than 200 page indictment. Much of the cited evidence made no reference to the journalists activities, but focused on the cleric Gulen.


Many international and national human rights groups attended Monday’s hearings. "It's very concerning people are really facing serious charges, with potentially three life sentences on the basis of very, very little evidence of criminal acts, and that's really worrying,” warned Amnesty International’s Milena Buyum, speaking after attending the first day of hearings.


Human rights groups accuse Turkey of being the world's worst jailor of journalists, with more than 170 incarcerated since the post coup crackdown. Monday’s hearing is likely to only add to questions over the legitimacy of that crackdown.


But before the trial Erdogan dismissed such criticism, "Whenever we go abroad, Western media outlets come up with the same argument, claiming there are many detained journalists in Turkey. However, according to figures from our Ministry, only two people out of 177 who identify themselves as journalists are holders of a press card. In addition, one of these persons is currently in jail for murder and the others for their involvement in terrorist organizations," Erdogan said in a speech Saturday to national media heads.


The president went on to warn there would be no let up in the crackdown, “I see no difference between those who sell their news headlines with the instructions of a terrorist organization and those who take to the mountains with a gun in their hands,” said Erdogan.