ISTANBUL – An Istanbul court has sentenced six Turkish journalists to life in prison on charges of belonging to a banned Marxist group, media watchdogs said Tuesday.
Among those affected by the court ruling handed down late Monday is Fusun Erdogan, who holds dual Turkish and Dutch citizenship and is director of Ozgur Radio, which broadcasts in Kurdish.
Erdogan, who has been detained since 2006, and five other defendants were charged with belonging to the banned Marxist-Leninist Communist Party (MLKP).
The party is listed as a terrorist organisation by Turkey.
The European Federation of Journalists in a statement denounced the verdict as “absurd”, saying it illustrated the Turkish government’s bid to control power.
“The verdict is a disgrace to the Turkish judicial system and an expression of the absolute power of the government,” it said. “It further shows that the regime does not tolerate any criticism.”
Turkey has long been criticised for a lack of press freedom.
The US-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) last year named it a “leading jailer of journalists”, identifying 76 who were in prison, 61 of them purely for their journalism.
But activists say the situation has deteriorated since the unrest that broke out earlier this year over the planned redevelopment of a park and evolved into mass protests against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is seen as increasingly authoritarian.