“We call on Turkey to reverse today’s decision and release the journalists. Imprisonment for journalism not only silences the journalists, but it also deprives Turkish citizens of their right to access pluralistic views on issues that can directly affect their lives,” Desir and Kaye said in a joint statement.
Kaye said that the journalists had been deprived of a fair trial without “substantial proof of their involvement in the coup attempt” and characterized the court ruling as an assault on “the remnants of freedom of expression and media freedom in Turkey.”
In turn, Desir noted that the decision also raised fundamental questions about the ability of the judiciary to uphold the constitutionally protected right to freedom of expression, pointing to January’s ruling of the Turkish Constitutional Court.
In January, Turkey's Constitutional Court ruled that the detention of Mehmet Altan and Sahin Alpay, yet another journalist, was disproportionate and infringing upon their rights to liberty, freedom of expression, and freedom of the media.
A failed military coup attempt took place in Turkey in July 2016. The Turkish authorities accused Gulen of masterminding the thwarted coup and later detained thousands of military personnel, activists, officials, journalists, legal and educational workers over suspected links to the movement of the preacher.