Turkey’s pro-government columnist Cem Küçük said on Friday that though he did not approve of journalists Ahmet Altan and Nazlı Ilıcak and philanthropist Osman Kavala, all three had stayed in prison ‘’long enough.’’
Journalists Altan and Ilıcak were detained in Sept. 2016, in a crackdown against intellectuals and writers following a failed July 2016 coup attempt and given life sentences in February 2018 over attempting to overthrow the “constitutional order,” “interfering with the work of the national assembly,” and “interfering with the work of the government” through violence or force.
A Turkish appeals court earlier this month cleared the journalists of charges of violating the constitution. The court rejected the requests for the release of Altan and Ilicak, ruling that both had aided ”knowingly and willingly” the Gülen movement, which Turkish government says orchestrated the failed coup.
Turkish philanthropist and civil society activist Kavala has been jailed for 20 months on terrorism charges over the 2013 mass anti-government protests known as Gezi Park protests. Prosecutors demand a total of 47,520 years in prison for Kavala and 15 other suspects over attempting to overthrow the government.
Küçük said in his column in Türkiye newspaper that Altan and Ilıcak had betrayed democracy and had supported the coup, while Kavala acted as a political militant of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).
“These three people were convicted in the consciousness of the Turkish nation. They are now in prison. Is it right and just to keep them still in prison? I think it is neither right nor just,” Küçük said.
“I think the sentences they have served up to now is enough and they should be released. In fact there is already a tendency to soften in out judiciary. I believe this tendency is a correct one under the current circumstances,” he said.
The journalist said Turkey’s current interests at the moment required “to cool off the hot iron”, a term used by the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to imply easing political tensions.