Sahin Alpay, Zaman
Medium:Internet, Print
Imprisoned:July 27, 2016

Police detained Sahin Alpay, a 72-year-old former columnist for the shuttered newspaper Zaman, at his home early in the morning of July 27, 2016, CPJ reported at the time.

The court arraigned him and codefendants and fellow former Zaman journalists Ali Bulaç, Ahmet Turan Alkan, and Mustafa Ünal on charges of being members of a terrorist organization. They were accused of following 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 masterminding a failed military coup on July 15, 2016.

According to records of the arraignment hearing, which CPJ has reviewed, the state alleged that Bulaç, Alpay, Alkan, and Ünal wrote articles in Zaman praising FETÖ/PDY and that the newspaper was the group's media organ.

The state further alleged that because Bulaç and the other Zaman columnists continued writing for the newspaper after its editor-in-chief, Ekrem Dumanli, was chargedin absentia on charges of being "a member of an armed terrorist organization," they remained involved even they they knew the group included armed elements, according to court records.

According to the court records, the state also alleged that Bulaç, Alpay, Alkan, and Ünal praised Gülenists on social media, despite what the state described as "strong discourse and public information" that an armed uprising would take place.

The court judged Bulaç, Alpay, Alkan, and Ünal to be flight risks and ordered them jailed pending trial. Many people have fled Turkey in the wake of the government crackdown on suspected Gülenists.

The court did not specify the accusations against the individual journalists but judged their cases collectively, court documents show.

Alpay's lawyers unsuccessfully petitioned the prosecutor's office to expedite his legal process given his age and health problems, the news website T24 reported.

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. The government used emergency powers arrogated after the failed July 15 military coup to order the newspaper closed by decree on July 27, 2016.

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