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Protestors hold pictures of jailed journalists outside the Istanbul courthouse. Photo by OZAN KOSE/AFP/Getty Images.

A State Department official tells Axios "the United States is troubled" by news that a Turkish court sentenced three prominent journalists, Nazlı Ilıcake and brothers Ahmet and Mehmet Altan, as well as three other media employees, to life in prison.

"These extraordinary sentences appear to be another example of the Turkish authorities criminalizing journalism under the state of emergency in order to discourage the free expression of viewpoints critical of the government," the official said.

Why it matters: The ruling marks a major defeat for press freedom in Turkey, which currently holds a world-leading 73 journalists in prison and is considered the No. 1 worst jailer of press by the Committee to Protect Journalists, ahead of China and Egypt.

Go deeper

14 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Kevin McCarthy's rude awakening

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Kevin McCarthy is learning you can get torched when you try to make everyone happy, especially after an insurrection.

Why it matters: The House Republican leader had been hoping to use this year to build toward taking the majority in 2022, but his efforts to bridge intra-party divisiveness over the Capitol siege have him taking heat from every direction, eroding his stature both with the public and within his party.

The next big political war: redistricting

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Democrats are preparing a mix of tech and legal strategies to combat expected gerrymandering by Republicans, who are planning to go on legal offense themselves.

Why it matters: Democrats failed to regain a single state legislature on Election Day, while Republicans upped their control to 30 states' Houses and Senates. In the majority of states, legislatures draw new congressional district lines, which can boost a party's candidates for the next decade.

44 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Vaccinations, relief timing dominate Sweet 16 call

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) speaks during a news conference in December with a group of bipartisan lawmakers. Photo: Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Vaccine distribution, pandemic data and a cross-party comity dominated today's virtual meeting between White House officials and a bipartisan group of 16 senators, Senator Angus King told Axios.

Why it matters: Given Democrats' razor-thin majority in both chambers of Congress, President Biden will have to rely heavily on this group of centrist lawmakers — dubbed the "Sweet 16" — to pass any substantial legislation.