Jailed ETHA journos İsminaz Temel, Adil Demirci freed; journalist Salih Turan sent to prison; publisher Emin Şakir acquitted in case where he remained behind bars for 191 days; Hanifi Barış given jail term for his social media posts

Emin Şakir, a publisher and the editor of the solyayin.com website, which is a digital archive of all leftist publications in Turkey, was aquitted of the “membership in a terrorist organization” charge at the end of the second hearing of his trial on 15 February.

Şakir announced his acquittal via his Twitter account.

Şakir was imprisoned pending trial on 28 November 2017 on account of the digital material found in his home, as well as his involvement in the Gezi Park protests of 2013 in Izmir. Şakir was released pending trial on 7 June 2018 after seven months in pre-trial detention when the Istanbul 33rd High Criminal Court accepted the indictment against him.

Musician Ferhat Tunç faces terrorism-related charges in new indictment

Musician Ferhat Tunç faces up to 20 years in prison on the charges of “membership in a terrorist group” and “disseminating propaganda for a terrorist group” as part of a new case filed by the Diyarbakır Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office.

The indictment, accepted by the Diyarbakır 5th High Criminal Court, claims that Tunç is involved in the Democratic Society Congress (DTK); he served as a courier to help the group’s financing; he shared social media posts criticising Turkey’s operation on Syria’s Afrin, and had links with terrorist group members.

Tunç was briefly taken into custody on 14 January in Istanbul’s Atatürk Airport and was released after giving his statement at the Bakırköy Courthouse as part of this investigation.

Journalist Melike Ceyhan detained, released

Journalist Melike Ceyhan, who was taken into custody in Istanbul on 13 February along with 17 other people as part of an operation, was released on 15 February.

Ceyhan was referred to a prosecutor after her statement at the police department. She was released after giving her statement before the prosecutor.

ETHA reporter Adil Demirci released from pre-trial detention

Adil Demirci, a reporter for the Etkin news agency (ETHA), who was jailed pending trial in April 2018, appeared in an Istanbul court on 14 February for the second hearing of his trial on terrorism-related charges.

Demirci is among the 23 defendants in the case, who also include members of the Socialist Party of the Oppressed (ESP).

P24 monitored the hearing at the 25th High Criminal Court of Istanbul. The prosecution requested that five of the six jailed defendants in the case, including Demirci, be released pending trial.

Addressing the court for his defense statement during the hearing, Demirci requested for his release. He explained to the court that all of the commemorative events he allegedly participated according to the case file were events he covered as a journalist.

Following the completion of the defense statements, the court issued an interim ruling, releasing Demirci and Hasan Kınık while ordering the continuation of the detention of the rest of the jailed defendants in the case. The court imposed on Demirci a ban on leaving Istanbul. The next hearing in the case will take place on 30 April.

Journalist İsminaz Temel released at the end of 3rd hearing

The third hearing of the trial in which ETHA editor İsminaz Temel and reporter Havva Cuştan are standing trial on terrorism-related charges also took place on 14 February.

Temel, in pre-trial detention since October 2017, is among the 23 defendants in the case, which is overseen by the 27th High Criminal Court of Istanbul.

P24 monitored the hearing, during which the prosecution requested the continuation of the detention of all three jailed defendants in the case.

Addressing the court for her defense statement following the prosecutor, Temel said that her case file proved that she is a journalist. She explained that all demonstrations she is accused of joining in the case file were events she covered as a journalist. Temel’s lawyers also addressed the court, requesting for her release pending trial.

Issuing an interim ruling at the end of the hearing, the court ruled to release Temel under judicial control measures but ordered the continuation of detention of two other jailed defendants in the case and adjourned the trial until 24 April.

Nurcan Baysal’s trial postponed to April

Journalist and author Nurcan Baysal’s trial on the charge of “inciting the public to hatred and animosity” over her social media posts resumed on 14 February at the 7th Criminal Court of First Instance of Diyarbakır.

Baysal’s lawyer submitted to the court another court ruling about Baysal in which she was acquitted of the charge against her. The trial was then adjourned until 18 April because the judge was on leave.

Journalist Salih Turan arrested over his social media posts

Salih Turan, a journalist who formerly worked for the Kurdish desk of the Sputnik news agency, was jailed pending trial on 13 February on terrorism-related charges. The accusations stem from the journalist’s social media posts.

Turan was taken into custody on 12 February during a police raid on his home. Turan’s lawyer Newroz Akalan told the Evrenseldaily that Turan’s mobile phone and computer were also confiscated.

Following his interrogation at the police department, Turan was brought before a prosecutor, who referred the journalist to a court seeking his imprisonment pending trial. The court jailed Turan pending trial on the charges of “membership in a terrorist group” and “disseminating propaganda for a terrorist group.” Turan was initially placed in the Metris Prison, from where he was shortly transferred to the Silivri Prison.

Filmmaker, theatre director handed down jail terms over documentary

Veysi Altay, the director of the documentary feature Nû Jîn, and Dicle Anter, the former director of the Yılmaz Güney Movie Theatre in Batman, who arranged for the film to be shown at the theatre, were both given jail terms in a court case where the accusation stemmed from the film.

Announcing its verdict at the end of the hearing on 13 February, the 2nd High Criminal Court of Batman convicted both Altay and Anter of the “propaganda” charge. The court gave Altay a prison sentence of 2 years and 6 months and Anter was given 2 years and 1 month. The court ordered that both Altay and Anter be issued  international travel bans.   hakkında yurtdışına çıkış yasağı uygulanmasına karar verdi.

Journalist Çağdaş Kaplan indicted for “propaganda”

Journalist Çağdaş Kaplan, the former editor-in-chief of the Yeni Yaşamnewspaper, is accused of “disseminating propaganda for a terrorist group via his social media posts” in a new indictment.

Kaplan was taken into custody on 6 October 2018 in Istanbul as part of the investigation and released after giving his statement before a prosecutor.

The indictment, drafted by the press offenses bureau under the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, accuses Kaplan of “spreading propaganda” through the news stories he shared on social media.

The indictment also talks about the Evrenselnewspaper as “a media company that operates under the guidance of a terrorist group.”

Journalist Semiha Alankuş appears in court

Journalist Semiha Alankuş on 13 February appeared before a court in Diyarbakır on the charge of “membership in a terrorist group.”

Alankuş was taken into custody and then released in October as part of a sweeping operation targeting journalists and others across nine provinces.

Alankuş and her lawyer Resul Tamur attended the hearing at the 9th High Criminal Court of Diyarbakır. Addressing the court for her defense statement, Alankuş rejected the accusation and requested for her acquittal.

Issuing an interim ruling at the end of the hearing, the court lifted part of the judicial control measures imposed on Alankuş, the one that required her to report to a police station on a regular basis to give her signature. The court ruled for the continuation of the international travel ban imposed on the journalist and adjourned the trial, awaiting the results of the ongoing examination on her digital devices.

More academics given jail terms for signing peace petition

Courts in Istanbul during the past week imposed jail sentences on seven more academics who have been standing trial for signing 2016’s petition by the Academics for Peace initiative.

On 14 February, the 32nd High Criminal Court of Istanbul convicted Mehmet Şiray of “disseminating propaganda for a terrorist group” and gave the academic a prison sentence of 1 year and 3 months. The court deferred the sentence.

On 13 February, the 36th High Criminal Court of Istanbul convicted academics Tahsin Yeşildere, S.Y. and M.G. of the same charge and gave each academic a 15-month sentence. All three sentences were deferred.

On 12 February, three more academics were handed down prison sentences.

The 36th High Criminal Court of Istanbul convicted retired Professor Bülent Tanju of the “propaganda” charge and gave him a prison sentence of 1-and-a-half years, which it then reduced to 15 months. The court deferred the sentence.

The 37th High Criminal Court of Istanbul found academic Hatice Kurtuluş Aydal guilty of the “propaganda” charge and imposed on Aydal a prison sentence of 1-and-a-half years. The court did not grant a reduction but ruled to defer the sentence.

Gülsün Güvenli was also found guilty by the trial court, which gave the academic a 15-month sentence and ruled to defer the sentence. In what marked an unprecedented ruling, the court also ordered that Güvenli pay a condolence visit to the relatives of a martyred Turkish soldier.

Lawyer Hanifi Barış convicted over social media posts

Hanifi Barış, a lawyer and an academic who was among the signatories of 2016’s Academics for Peace petition, was convicted on 12 February of “disseminating propaganda for a terrorist group via social media.”

Barış and his lawyers were in attendance at the hearing, where Barış made his final defense statement. Announcing its verdict at the end of the hearing, the 29th High Criminal Court of Istanbul convicted Barış of the “propaganda” charge and imposed on him a prison term of 1 year and 8 months. The court deferred the sentence.

Barış, who reported to a police station in July 2018 to give his statement as part of this investigation, was referred to a prosecutor, who referred him to a court for arrest. The court jailed Barış pending trial on the grounds that he was a “flight risk.” Barış was released pending trial on 18 September 2018, at the end of the first hearing of his trial.

4 imprisoned defendants in Gün Matbaacılık case released

The fourth hearing of the trial into the owner and 20 employees of Gün Matbaacılık, the company that printed the shuttered newspaper Özgürlükçü Demokrasi, took place on 11 February at the 26th High Criminal Court of Istanbul.

Jailed defendants Kasım Zengin, the owner of the printing company, Cemal Tunç, Erdoğan Zamur, İhsan Sinmiş, İrfan Karaca, Mahmut Abay, Mehmet Emin Sümeli and Musa Kaya, as well as other defendants and defense lawyers were in attendance at the hearing, held at the courtroom across the Silivri Prison. Another jailed defendant, Uğur Selman Kelekçiler, was unable to attend because he has been under treatment at the Bakırköy Psychiatric Hospital.

The case was heard by the court’s substitute panel. Defense lawyers addressed the court and requested for the jailed defendants to be released. In its interim ruling at the end of the hearing, the panel ruled to release Kelekçiler, Kaya, Sümeli and Tunç from pre-trial detention and adjourned the trial until 11 March.

TV10 camera operator Kemal Demir released pending trial

Kemal Demir, a former camera operator for the shuttered television station TV10, who has been in detention on remand in the Silivri Prison since December 2017, was releasedpending trial on 8 February after spending more than one year in pre-trial detention.

The 28th High Criminal Court of Istanbul ordered Demir’s release without holding a courtroom hearing, media reported on 9 February. The court imposed on Demir an international travel ban.

The second hearing of Demir’s trial on the charge of “membership in a terrorist group” is scheduled for 2 May 2019.

At the end of the first hearing on 3 July 2018, the 28th High Criminal Court of Istanbul ruled that it had no jurisdiction over the case and sent Demir’s file to Mersin. When the Mersin court also ruled that it had no jurisdiction over the case, the file was sent to the Supreme Court of Appeals, which subsequently ruled that the case should be overseen by the 28th High Criminal Court of Istanbul, which, upon its review of Demir’s file, ruled for his release.

List of journalists and media workers in prison

As of 15 February 2019, there are at least 155 journalists and media workers in prison in Turkey, either in pre-trial detention or serving a sentence.

The full list can be accessed here.

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