Jailed journalists Semiha Şahin and Pınar Gayıp remain behind bars; journalist Ayşe Düzkan, actress Nazlı Masatçı sent to prison to serve sentences upheld by appellate courts

Nazlı Masatçı, an actress with the İzmir Yenikapı Art Theatre, which was closed down through a statutory decree, was sent to prison on 30 January. Masatçı was imprisoned to serve an 18-month sentence she was given by the 2nd High Criminal Court of Izmir on the charge of “disseminating propaganda for a terrorist group.” The accusation stemmed from a demonstration Masatçı took part in in 2015. Her sentence was recently upheld by an appellate court. Masatçı was placed in the Izmir Women’s Prison.

JinNews reporter Melike Aydın briefly detained

JinNews reporter Melike Aydın was taken into custody on 2 February during a checkpoint stop as she was returning from Aydın to Izmir. She was detained because of her social media posts. Aydın was taken to the Izmir Police Department for interrogation and was released after giving her statement the same day.

Özgür Gündem solidarity trial against Can Dündar adjourned

The trial into journalist Can Dündar on the charge of “printing or publishing statements by a terrorist organization” on account of his participation in a 2016 campaign for solidarity with the shuttered daily Özgür Gündem resumed on 31 January in Istanbul.

This was the ninth hearing of the case, which is overseen by the 22nd High Criminal Court of Istanbul.

In an interim ruling at the end of the hearing, the court ruled to keep the arrest warrant for Dündar in place and speed up paperwork for his statement to be taken abroad, and set 18 July 2019 as the date for the next hearing.

Court keeps jailed ETHA journalists Şahin and Gayıp behind bars

The third hearing of the trial into Etkin news agency (ETHA) journalists Semiha Şahin and Pınar Gayıp on terrorism-related charges took place on 30 January at the 23rd High Criminal Court of Istanbul.

P24 monitored the hearing, where both journalists who have been in pre-trial detention since April were in attendance.

Early in the hearing, the prosecution submitted their final opinion of the case, seeking prison terms for both Şahin and Gayıp on the charges of “membership in a terrorist group” and “disseminating propaganda for a terrorist group.” The prosecution also demanded that both journalists be remanded in prison.

Addressing the court after the prosecution, Şahin rejected the accusations and requested for her acquittal.

Gayıp told the court that her social media posts about her news coverage were held as evidence against her and that journalism was being put on trial in this court case. Gayıp requested for her release pending trial.

In its interim ruling at the end of the hearing, the court ruled to keep Şahin and Gayıp behind bars and adjourned the trial until 27 March 2019 for the final defense statements in response to the prosecution’s final opinion to be prepared.

Journalist Ayşe Düzkan sent to prison to serve 18-month sentence

Journalist Ayşe Düzkan was sent to prison on 29 January to serve an 18-month sentence she was handed down in January 2018, which was recently upheld by an appellate court. Düzkan was sent to the Bakırköy Women’s Prison in Istanbul.

Düzkan was convicted of “disseminating propaganda for a terrorist group” for taking part in a 2016 campaign for solidarity with Özgür Gündem. Along with Düzkan, the 13th High Criminal Court of Istanbul had also convicted journalists Mehmet Ali Çelebi, Ragıp Duran, Hüseyin Bektaş and Özgür Gündem’s former co-editor-in-chief Hüseyin Aykol of the same charge. Aykol was given a prison sentence of 3 years and 9 months while the rest of the defendants were each given an 18-month sentence. Defense lawyers appealed the sentences.

Ruling on the appeal on 29 November, the 3rd Criminal Chamber of the Istanbul Regional Court of Justice held that the trial court’s decision was lawful, thus making the trial court’s verdict final. Prison sentences less than five years cannot be appealed further once they are upheld by an appellate court.

Düzkan’s imprisonment has brought the number of jailed journalists and media workers in Turkey to at least 160.

Court convicts man of “insulting Atatürk on social media”

A court in Malatya on 29 January convicted Murat K., a teacher, of “publicly insulting Atatürk” via his social media posts and gave him a prison sentence of 10 months. The 5th Criminal Court of First Instance of Malatya deferred the sentence.

Court lifts arrest warrant for Ahmet Nesin in Özgür Gündem solidarity case

The trial into Reporters Without Borders (RSF) Turkey representative Erol Önderoğlu, academic and human rights defender Şebnem Korur Fincancı and writer Ahmet Nesin on the charge of “terrorism propaganda” for joining in 2016’s Özgür Gündem solidarity campaign resumed on 28 January at the 13th High Criminal Court of Istanbul.

P24 monitored the eighth hearing, where Önderoğlu and Fincancı as well as defense lawyers were in attendance.

At the beginning of the hearing, the court added Ahmet Nesin’s defense statement that was taken abroad and translated into Turkish from its original in French to the case file, thus enabling for the arrest warrant against Nesin to be lifted.

In its interim ruling at the end of the hearing, the court lifted the arrest warrant for Nesin, ruled for the case file to be transferred to the prosecution for the drafting of their final opinion of the case, and set 27 February 2019 as the date for the next hearing.

Trial into 4 Academics for Peace adjourned until May

The fourth hearing in the trial of academics Esra Mungan, Kıvanç Ersoy, Muzaffer Kaya and Meral Camcı for signing a 2016 petition by the Academics for Peace initiative was held on 28 January at the 13th High Criminal Court of Istanbul.

P24 monitored the hearing, where Mungan and Camcı were in attendance. The defense lawyers representing the academics submitted a letter of excuse for nonattendance.

The prosecution reiterated their final opinion of the case, submitted during the previous hearing, in which they requested that all four academics be convicted of the “propaganda” charge under Article 7/2 of Turkey’s anti-terror law.

The court then asked Mungan and Camcı whether they wanted the sentence to be given to be deferred in the event they are convicted. Both academics told the court that they would respond to the question after consulting with their lawyers.

In its interim ruling issued at the end of the hearing, the court ruled for the statements of Kaya and Ersoy to be taken abroad, and adjourned the trial until 23 May 2019.

Appellate court to hear Seda Taşkın’s case in March

The Erzurum Regional Court of Justice, the appellate court overseeing the appeal against the prison sentence given in October to journalist Seda Taşkın, has ruled to hold a courtroom hearing for Taşkın’s case.

Taşkın, a reporter for Mezopotamya news agency (MA), was sentenced to a total of 7.5 years in prison on the charges of “aiding a terrorist group without being its member” and “disseminating propaganda for a terrorist group.” She was released from the Sincan Prison in Ankara in January after a year of pre-trial detention as per an interim ruling issued by the appellate court.

The appellate court hearing is set for 20 March 2019.

MA reporter Lezgin Akdeniz to stand trial on terrorism-related charges

An indictment has been issued against Lezgin Akdeniz, a reporter for the Mezopotamya news agency, who was among journalists taken into custody in October 2018 in a sweeping operation as part of an investigation launched by the Diyarbakır Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office.

The 9th High Criminal Court of Diyarbakır has accepted the indictment, where the journalist is charged with “membership in a terrorist group” based on testimony by a secret witness, and with “successively disseminating propaganda for a terrorist group” on the grounds that the journalist “liked a news story and another post on Facebook.”

The indictment seeks up to a total of 22 years of imprisonment for Akdeniz.

List of journalists and media workers in prison

Ayşe Düzkan’s imprisonment on 29 January brought the number of journalists and media workers in prison in Turkey to at least 160.

The full list can be accessed here.

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