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Veteran Turkish journalist serving life gets another six years in jail

Columnist and ex-politician Nazli Ilicak, 74, sentenced to six additional years for leaking information deemed secret by the government
Ilicak had also been sentenced to 14 months in prison last year for insulting the president, a crime punishable by up to four years in prison in Turkey (AFP)

A Turkish court has sentenced a veteran journalist serving a life sentence to nearly six additional years in prison for leaking information deemed secret by the government, state-owned Anadolu news agency has said.

Nazli Ilicak, 74, was sentenced to life in prison along with five other journalists last February for allegedly 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.

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Ilicak, a journalist, columnist and former politician, had also been sentenced to 14 months in prison last 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 last February, Reuters news agency reported.

The case had underscored deep concern about press 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 2016 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 coup, 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.