ETHA reporter Meşale Tolu released, while Berberoğlu, Dündar and Gül face up to 15 years in jail in MIT trucks report case
German journalist and translator Meşale Tolu, on trial on “terrorism charges” along with 17 other co-defendants, was released from prison at the end of the second hearing of her case held on 18 December.
Tolu, an employee of the Etkin News Agency (ETHA), has been imprisoned since May. The Istanbul 29th High Criminal Court, which oversees the trial, ruled to release all six imprisoned defendants in the case. The released defendants, in addition to Tolu, are Birol Kurt, Deniz Havuç, Emre Altunkaya, Fırat Çağla and Serkan Okatan. The court decided to adjourn the trial until 26 April 2018.
With Tolu no longer behind bars, the number of journalists in prison in Turkey decreased to 151. Detailed list can be accessed here.
MIT trucks case: Prosecutor seeks up to 15 years in jail for defendants
On December 20, the prosecutor in the case of the Syria-bound National Intelligence Agency (MIT) trucks case demanded up to 15 years in jail for the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Enis Berberoğlu, Cumhuriyet former Editor-in-Chief Can Dündar and the daily’s Ankara representative, Erdem Gül.
The trucks were intercepted by gendarmerie units in two different occasions in 2014 near the Turkish-Syrian border for allegedly carrying arms to Syria. Berberoğlu, Dündar and Gül are on trial in relation to publication of the images about the MIT trucks. During the second hearing of the trial, held at the Istanbul 14th High Criminal Court, the prosecutor demanded prison terms of up to 15 years for Dündar, Gül and Berberoğlu, for “aiding a terrorist organization without being members,” for they published images of the trucks.
In its interim ruling, the court ordered separation of the file of two other defendants in the case — Aydınlık editor-in-chief Mustafa İlker Yücel and Aydınlık’s former head news editor Orhan Ceyhun Bozkurt — who are both charged with “leaking state secrets.”
The next hearing of the case will be held on January 24, 2018.
Top court to review Şahin Alpay’s application
The Constitutional Court is set to review an application filed on behalf of imprisoned journalist Şahin Alpay on Tuesday, December 26.
The Court’s First Section took up another imprisoned journalist’s application, that of Mehmet Altan, on December 5 and referred it to the Plenary.
Alpay, a 73-year-old former columnist for the shuttered Zaman daily who has been in prison on coup charges since July 2016, has been battling a number of health problems.
Two newspapers closed down
Two local newspapers based in the Western province of Isparta was closed down by a statutory decree issued under the State of Emergency. The decree no. 695, issued in the early hours of December 24, orders the closure of Akdeniz and Çınaraltı newspapers.
Journalist Mehmet Ali Ertaş given prison term
On December 22, Mezopotamya Agency editor Mehmet Ali Ertaş was sentenced to three years and one month in jail for “spreading propaganda for a terrorist organization” for his social media posts about a bomb attack in Ankara on October 10, 2016, which killed more than 100 demonstrators going for a peace rally.
The Diyarbakır 9th Criminal Court, which oversaw the trial, deferred the sentence.
Journalist Seda Taşkın detained
On December 20, Mezopotamya Agency reporter Seda Taşkın was detained in the eastern province of Muş, where she was reportedly on a news assignment.
Taşkın, who was taken into police custody because of a “credible tip-off,” was questioned over her social media posts and some of her stories. She was released by the court she was referred to after questioning by the police on December 23.
Former DIHA executives on trial
Former Executive Board Chairman of the shuttered Dicle News Agency (DIHA) Zekeriya Güzüpek and the agency’s responsible managing editor, Dicle Müftüoğlu, are facing a possible prison term of up to 15 years on the charge of “membership of a terrorist organization” in a new trial.
The indictment against Güzüpek and Müftüoğlu was prepared by the Diyarbakır Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office and accepted by the Diyarbakır 5th High Criminal Court. The first hearing in the trial will be held on 22 March 2018.
Journalist Sertaç Kayar briefly detained
On December 19, journalist Sertaç Kayar was arrested in a police raid on his home in Diyarbakır. Kayar was released later in the same day, following his questioning. He said he was asked questions about his journalistic activities.
Erdoğan’s lawyers seek ban on access to Carlos Latuff cartoons
Well-known Brazilian cartoonist Carlos Latuff announced on his Twitter account on December 18 that lawyers of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan applied to a Turkish court, demanding a ban on access to dozens of web pages, including 11 Twitter pages containing his cartoons.
FOX TV anchorman receives death threat
On December 19, FOX TV anchorman Fatih Portakal announced that he received a death threat via a text message sent to his mobile phone. In the message published by Portakal, the sender vows to kill Portakal and the owner of FOX TV for “employing a traitor.”
The person who sent the message was later arrested but released after his questioning by the prosecutor.