FILE PHOTO: Turkish journalist and former parliamentarian Nazli Ilicak (C), is escorted by a police officer (R) and her relatives (L) and rear) after being detained and brought to a hospital for a medical check in Bodrum, Turkey, July 26, 2016. Picture: KENAN GURBUZ / REUTERS
FILE PHOTO: Turkish journalist and former parliamentarian Nazli Ilicak (C), is escorted by a police officer (R) and her relatives (L) and rear) after being detained and brought to a hospital for a medical check in Bodrum, Turkey, July 26, 2016. Picture: KENAN GURBUZ / REUTERS

Ankara — A Turkish court on Tuesday sentenced a prominent journalist serving a life sentence to almost six additional years in prison for leaking information deemed secret by the government, the state-owned Anadolu news agency said.

Nazli Ilicak was sentenced to life in prison along with five other journalists in February 2018 for aiding plotters of a 2016 failed coup attempt. All six of the journalists, including Ilicak, have denied the charges.

On Tuesday, the court sentenced Ilicak to five years and 10 months in prison in a separate case where she was charged with “sharing information that needed to remain secret for the security of the state”, Anadolu said.

Ilicak, a journalist, columnist and former legislator, had also been sentenced to 14 months in prison in 2018 year for insulting the president, a crime punishable by up to four years in prison in Turkey.

Along with Ilicak, two prominent journalist brothers — Ahmet and Mehmet Altan — were sentenced to life in prison in February 2018. The case had underscored deep concern about media freedom and the independence of the judiciary in Turkey under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The government blames followers of US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen for masterminding the coup, and has waged a crackdown on suspected members of his network since then. Gulen has denied involvement in the coup and condemned it.

Since the abortive putsch some 77,000 people have been jailed and more than 150,000 sacked or suspended from their jobs in the military, public and private sectors.

Rights groups and Turkey's western allies have voiced alarm over the scale of the crackdown, saying Erdogan is using the coup as a pretext to quash dissent.

The government, however, rejects the criticism and says the measures are necessary due to the gravity of the security threat it faces. 

Reuters