Journalist Mehmet Baransu ordered to remain behind bars at the end of 21st hearing in Taraf trial; 5 journalists arrested in Mardin released after 6 days in custody; journalist Levent Uysal attacked by armed assailants

The trial of former executives of the shuttered Taraf daily and reporter Mehmet Baransu for allegedly publishing a secret military document called the “Egemen Operation Plan” resumed on 27 August 2019 at the 13th High Criminal Court of Istanbul.

Baransu, the only jailed defendant in the case, who was brought to the courtroom from the Silivri Prison accompanied by gendarmerie, continued presenting his defense statement on the first day of the hearing, which was planned to continue for three days.

Taraf’s former executives Ahmet Altan, Yasemin Çongar and Yıldıray Oğur were not in attendance because they are exempt from personal appearance in court. Çongar and Altan were represented in court by lawyer Figen Albuga Çalıkuşu while Oğur was represented by lawyer Gülçin Avşar.

The hearing scheduled for 28 August did not take place because the court failed to send a summons to the Silivri Prison for Baransu to be brought to the courthouse.

Baransu continued making his defense statement on the third day of the hearing on 29 August. In its interim ruling at the end of that hearing, the court ordered the continuation of Mehmet Baransu’s detention on remand on the grounds of “the nature and type of the alleged crime” and because he “has still not completed his defense statement.” The court set 10-11-12 December 2019 as the dates for the next hearing.

BirGün journalists to stand trial for news coverage

Four journalists from BirGün daily — İbrahim Aydın, Barış İnce, Can Uğur and Bülent Yılmaz — are charged with “aiding a terrorist organization without being its member” in a new indictment. The accusation stems from the journalists’ reporting about posts from before the year 2016 by the Twitter account that used the pseudonym “Fuat Avni.”

The 16-page indictment was recently accepted by the 32nd High Criminal Court of Istanbul, which will be overseeing the case. The indictment claims that the newspaper’s reporting about “Fuat Avni” helped “Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ/PDY)” in their attempts to manipulate public opinion.

DHA reporter Ümit Uzun briefly detained

Ümit Uzun, a reporter for Demirören News Agency (DHA), was taken into custody on 29 August 2019 in Istanbul as he was covering a news story for the agency.

Uzun was arrested and handcuffed behind his back as he was interviewing the owner of a store in the Gaziosmanpaşa district, where a car crashed into. The grounds for Uzun’s arrest was “disrupting the scene of the accident.” Uzun was released after interrogation. After being released, the journalist filed a complaint with the Public Prosecutor’s Office about the officers who arrested him.

Journalist Levent Uysal attacked by assailants

Balıkesir-based journalist Levent Uysal, the owner of the local newspaper Yenigün, which recently ended its print run, was attacked by armed assailants on 28 August 2019.

Uysal was approached by two people on a motorbike, both wearing helmets, pretending to ask for directions, at around 01:00 a.m. near his home. The people on the motorbike fired at Uysal and shot him on the leg. The journalist was hospitalized following the attack. Uysal said he believed he was targeted because of his reporting.

Journalists arrested in Mardin released after police interrogation

Mezopotamya news agency (MA) reporters Ahmet Kanbal and Mehmet Şah Oruç, JinNews reporter Rojda Aydın and journalists Nurcan Yalçın and Halime Parlak, who were arrested in Mardin on 20 August 2019, were released late on 26 August after giving their statements at the Mardin Police Department.

All five journalists were arrested as they were covering demonstrations in Mardin in protest of the government’s recent removal of the mayors of Mardin, Diyarbakır and Van from office. They were held in custody for six days before being released. During police interrogation, all five were asked what they were doing on the scene of the protests. Oruç said after they were released that they were handcuffed behind their back while they were being arrested.

Journalists arrested in Diyarbakır released after 7 days in custody

Tümen Anlı, the press and media relations officer for the Democratic Society Congress (DTK), and Vedat Dağ, the press relations officer for the Diyarbakır branch of People’s Democratic Party (HDP), who were taken into custody on 19 August 2019 in Diyarbakır, were released under judicial control measures by a court on 26 August. They were both arrested as part of operations on the heels of the government’s removal of the mayors of Diyarbakır, Mardin and Van from office late on 18 August.

Dağ said all 16 questions he was asked during his interrogation at the police department were about why he attended press statements by the HDP.

List of journalists and media workers in prison

As of 2 September 2019, at least 138 journalists and media workers are in prison in Turkey, either in pre-trial detention or serving a sentence.

The full list can be accessed here.

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