Another Turkish journalist jailed over Gulen links

Ali Unal was chief writer at the now-defunct Zaman newspaper. (Supplied)Ali Unal. (Supplied)
Updated 15 November 2018
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Another Turkish journalist jailed over Gulen links

  • About 250 people were killed in the coup attempt and in the subsequent crackdown, Turkey jailed 77,000 people pending trial

ISTANBUL: A court sentenced Turkish journalist Ali Unal to 19 years in jail on Wednesday on a charge of being a leader in the network accused of carrying out a failed coup in July 2016, the state-owned Anadolu news agency reported.
The ruling followed a sustained crackdown in the wake of the coup attempt, but also came amid steps by the government that appear aimed at improving ties with the US and Europe, strained by the sweeping campaign of arrests.
Unal was chief writer at the now-defunct Zaman newspaper, widely seen as the flagship media outlet for the network of US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara says orchestrated the attempted putsch. Gulen denies any involvement.
Speaking by video link from jail to the court in the western province of Usak, Unal denied being a founder or leader of the network and denied involvement in the putsch, Anadolu said.
“I have no link with any terrorist organization,” he said, adding that he had spoken five or six times to Gulen and that he was being tried over his writing.
He was sentenced to 19 years and six months for “leading an armed terrorist group.” Six other Zaman journalists were convicted on similar charges in July.
About 250 people were killed in the coup attempt and in the subsequent crackdown, Turkey jailed 77,000 people pending trial. Authorities also sacked or suspended 150,000 civil servants and military personnel and shut down dozens of media outlets.Illustrating the scale of its actions, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Wednesday his ministry had dismissed 23 percent of its career personnel over links to Gulen.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said some journalists helped nurture terrorists with their writing, and that the crackdown is needed to ensure stability in a NATO member bordering Syria, Iraq and Iran. Critics say Erdogan has used the crackdown to muzzle dissent and increase his own power. The European Union, which Turkey aspires to join, has also criticized the crackdown. The verdict came a day after another court threw out the conviction of former Wall Street Journal reporter Ayla Albayrak, annulling a verdict sentencing her to two years in prison in absentia on charges of carrying out propaganda for Kurdish militants.


Lebanon foreign minister to retain post in new cabinet

Updated 19 December 2018
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Lebanon foreign minister to retain post in new cabinet

BEIRUT: Lebanon's finance and foreign ministers will retain their posts, a senior official said on Wednesday, as rival parties near a breakthrough in talks on forming a new coalition government.
Ali Hassan Khalil, a top aide to Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, will remain finance minister, the official told Reuters. A second senior political source, who confirmed Foreign Minister German Bassil would keep his job, said Elias Bou Saab would become defence minister.
Lebanon is on track to form a new cabinet in days, politicians said, after months of wrangling that has hurt the outlook for its struggling economy.
More than seven months since a parliamentary election, rival parties have yet to agree a deal on the government as officials warn of economic crisis.
Prime Minister-designate Saad al-Hariri's efforts have faced conflicting demands for cabinet seats, which Lebanon's power-sharing system parcels out based on sectarian group.
Bassil, President Michel Aoun's son-in-law, heads the Free Patriotic Movement, of which Bou Saab is also a member. The defence ministry in the outgoing cabinet was with the Christian Maronite FPM that Aoun founded.
"We are on the brink of forming the government," Berri, whose Shi'ite Amal party is allied to Iran-backed Hezbollah, was cited as saying on Wednesday.
The stagnant economy will be a top priority for the next government. Heavily indebted, Lebanon needs an administration that can set about long-stalled reforms to put public debt on a sustainable footing.
Lebanon is the world's third-most indebted nation with a debt-to-GDP ratio of more than 150 percent.