Cumhuriyet, Özgür Gündem solidarity and academics’ trials dominate the week; Emre İper and Ömer Faruk Aydemir released
The fifth hearing of a case where Reporters Without Borders (RSF) Turkey representative Erol Önderoğlu, human rights activist Professor Şebnem Korur Fincancı and writer Ahmet Nesin are charged with “terrorism propaganda” for participating in a solidarity campaign with the pro-Kurdish Özgür Gündem daily, was held at the Istanbul 13th High Criminal Court on December 26.
RSF Secretary-General Christophe Deloire, representatives from PEN International, PEN Turkey, PEN Belgium/Flanders and P24 followed the trial.
Önderoğlu, Fincancı and Nesin were placed in pre-trial detention for their role in the solidarity campaign. They were held for ten days before being freed conditionally in June 2016.
Speaking at the hearing, Önderoğlu referred to the expulsion of journalist Ahmet Şık at the Cumhuriyet trial a day before. “Yesterday, we faced a worrying interference with the right to defense. We want such interferences to end,” Önderoğlu said at the hearing. “I would like to state that I, who stand here before you as a suspect, am concerned because of what happened yesterday. Justice is necessary for all.”
Fincancı also expressed concern, saying that as a human rights defender she found restrictions imposed by the judiciary worrisome.
Lawyers for the defendants reminded the panel of judges, whose members had been changed since the previous hearing, of amicus briefs submitted by the RSF and Article 19.
In its interim ruling, the court decided to postpone the trial to April 18 in order to allow time to question Ahmet Nesin, who is being tried in absentia. The court had already issued an order for the arrest of Nesin, who left Turkey.
Cumhuriyet’s Emre İper released
Emre İper, an accounting department employee of the Cumhuriyet daily who was in prison for 267 days, was released on December 29.
İper’s release followed a statement from Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office that about 1,000 people were to be released across Turkey after it was understood that some mobile phone applications had been automatically connecting the servers of ByLock, an encrypted messaging system that authorities say was exclusively used by members of the Fethullah Gülen network, blamed for the July 15, 2016 coup attempt. The chief prosecutor’s office said more than 11,000 people were understood to have unknowingly accessed the ByLock servers through other applications.
“Ahmet says hello to you all,” İper said as he was released from Silivri Prison, referring to Cumhuriyet journalist Ahmet Şık who has been held in pre-trial detention in the same facility for a year.
İHA journalist Ömer Faruk Aydemir released
Ömer Faruk Aydemir, an editor at the İhlas News Agency (İHA), was released from Silivri Prison late on December 28 after it was understood that he was not a ByLock user.
Aydemir was arrested and then sent to prison pending trial on terrorism charges in August. He, like Cumhuriyet’s İper, was accused of using the ByLock messaging application, something that the authorities say is a proof of membership in the “Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ),” the group blamed for the July 15, 2016 coup attempt.
DİHA reporter convicted and jailed
Abdullah Kaya, a reporter for the shuttered Dicle News Agency (DİHA), was sent to prison on December 24 after a court ruling sentencing him to four years and two months in jail was upheld by an appeals court.
Kaya was first arrested by the police on January 18 and was later jailed pending trial on the charge of “membership of a terrorist group.” He was released by the court at the end of a hearing held on May 11.
But Kaya was sentenced to four years and two months in jail at the end of his trial. The sentence was recently upheld by an appellate court.
After Kaya’s imprisonment and the latest releases, the number of journalists who are in prison serving a conviction or in pre-trial detention is now 150. The detailed list can be reached here.
Ahmet Şık expelled from courtroom in Cumhuriyet trial
Journalist Ahmet Şık was removed from the courtroom at the fifth hearing of the Cumhuriyet trial held on December 25, after the judge said his defense statement was “political” and would not be allowed.
The Istanbul 27th High Criminal Court later ruled that Şık and all other imprisoned defendants in the case remain behind bars pending trial and set 9 March 2018 as the date of the next hearing.
The hearing was originally planned to last two days but was cut short after defense lawyers demanded that the panel of judges recuse themselves, arguing that removal of Şık indicated that the judges were not impartial.
Two other imprisoned defendants, Cumhuriyet Editor-in-Chief Murat Sabuncu and Cumhuriyet Executive Board Chairman Akın Atalay, refused to give their defense statements in response to the judge preventing Şık from presenting his. (The full text of the defense statement that Şık prepared for the hearing can be accessed here.)
A detailed report on the hearing can be read here.
Journalists reported to be in solitary confinement
Mümtazer Türköne, a columnist for the shuttered Zaman newspaper, and Fevzi Yazıcı, the daily’s art director, have been reportedly placed in solitary confinement in Silivri prison.
Yazıcı has been reportedly placed in solitary confinement after he refused to accept that he had a letter signed by Fethullah Gülen on a USB memory stick. Yazıcı, who faces an aggravated life sentence on the charge of “attempting to overthrow the constitutional order,” was not brought to the latest hearing of the trial at the Istanbul 26th High Criminal Court on December 11 as he was being questioned by the police that day.
Türköne, who also faces coup charges, was reported to have been placed in solitary confinement in several Twitter posts but there was no further information.
Academics’ trial postponed to April
The sixth hearing of a case where academics Esra Mungan, Meral Camcı, Muzaffer Kaya and Kıvanç Ersoy are on trial for signing in 2016 a petition calling for peace in Turkey’s Kurdish southeast region and criticizing actions of the security forces there, was held on December 26 at the Istanbul 13th High Criminal Court.
The four academics’ trial had started on the basis of Article 7/2 of the Anti-Terror Law, covering “propaganda for a terrorist organization,” but the prosecutor then requested the defendants be tried on the basis of Article 301 of the Turkish Criminal Code, making it illegal to insult Turkey, the Turkish nation, or Turkish government institutions. Since prosecution based on this clause requires permission from the Justice Ministry, the ministry’s permission is requested for the trial to proceed.
The court decided to inquire if the case file had been reviewed by the Justice Ministry. The next hearing of the case will be held on April 18, 2018.
Prosecutor objects to journalist’s release
The prosecutor in a terrorism investigation into Mezopotamya Agency reporter Seda Taşkın objected on December 27 to a court decision to release her pending trial.
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 after questioning by the police on December 23.
Indictment seeks decades behind bars for three journalists
Reporters of the shuttered Dicle News Agency (DİHA) Ferzen Çatak and Mahmut Ruvanas and Azadiye Welat daily reporter Kadri Esen are facing up to 39 years in total in an indictment that came out 22 months after they were briefly detained in Idil, Şırnak.
The three journalists were arrested in a house raid on February 28, 2016 in Idil, during a military curfew, and were later released. In the indictment, Çatak is accused of “exposing as targets those who take part in the fight against terrorism,” “terrorist propaganda” and “terrorist group membership” – charges that carry up to 23 years in prison. Esen and Ruvanas are accused of “exposing as targets those who take part in the fight against terrorism” and “terrorist propaganda,” facing between two to eight years in prison each.
Halla Barakat’s suspected murderer formally charged
The suspected murderer of Syrian anti-regime activist and former journalist Orouba Barakat and her 22-year-old journalist daughter Halla Barakat has been formally charged with murder in an indictment.
The suspect, Ahmad Barakat who is a relative of the murdered mother and daughter, faces two life sentences. According to the indictment, suspect Barakat, who occasionally overnighted at the victims’ house, was at the house the night before the murder. He is allleged to have then stabbed both women with a sharp object during a heated exchange over an undisclosed matter.
List of journalists in prison
1 Abdulkadir Turay, DİHA reporter
2 Abdullah Kaya, DİHA
3 Abdullah Kılıç, Habertürk
4 Abdullah Özyurt, Zaman reporter
5 Abdulvahap İş (Freelance journalist)
6 Ahmet Altan
7 Ahmet Feyzullah Özyurt
8 Ahmet Memiş, Gazeteci, Haberdar news website
9 Ahmet Metin Sekizkardeş, Zaman journalist
10 Ahmet Şık, Cumhuriyet reporter
11 Ahmet Turan Alkan, Zaman
12 Ahmet Yavaş, TRT (Erzurum)
13 Akın Atalay, Pres. of Cumhuriyet Foundation Executive Board
14 Alaattin Güner, Cihan media director
15 Ali Ahmet Böken, TRT News coordinator
16 Ali Aşikar – Azadiya Welat
17 Ali Babür Boysal, Zaman page designer
18 Ali Bulaç, Eski Zaman columnist
19 Ali Ünal, Zaman columnist
20 Ali Yüce, TRT Radio broadcasts chief
21 Arafat Dayan, Demokratik Ulus
22 Aslı Ceren Aslan, Özgür Gelecek
23 Ayhan Demir, Çaldıran News Agency
24 Ayşe Nazlı Ilıcak
25 Ayşenur Parıldak, Zaman, Haberdar
26 Aytekin Gezici, journalist/writer
27 Aziz İstegün, Diyarbakır Zaman representative
28 Bayram Kaya, Zaman reporter
29 Behram Kılıç
30 Beytullah Özdemir, Zaman Düzce bureau chief
31 Burak Ekici, Birgün
32 Burçin Dokgöz, former Zaman and Çorum reporter
33 Cemal Azmi Kalyoncu, Journalists and Writers’ Foundation
34 Ceren Taşkın, Hatay’ın Sesi
35 Cuma Kaya, Zaman
36 Cuma Ulus, Millet newspaper’s publications coordinator
37 Cüneyt Seza Özkan, Samanyolu TV
38 Çağdaş Erdoğan, Photojournalist
39 Deniz Yücel, Die Welt
40 Emin Demir, Freelancer
41 Emre Soncan, Zaman defense reporter
42 Ercan Gün, Fox TV
43 Erdal Süsem, Eylül magazine editor
44 Erdal Şen, former Meydan managing editor
45 Erdoğan Alayamut, Dihaber reporter
46 Erol Yüksel (TRT News Department vice president))
47 Erol Zavar, Odak magazine, owner and newsroom director
48 Fahrettin Kılıç, Özgür Toplum
49 Faruk Akkan, Cihan news agency
50 Ferhat Çiftçi, Azadiya Welat Gaziantep bureau chief
51 Fevzi Yazıcı
52 Gökçe Fırat Çulhaoğlu, Türksolu columnist
53 Gurbet Çakar, Hevi women’s magazine
54 Gültekin Avcı
55 Habip Güler, Zaman reporter
56 Hakan Aksel, TRT producer-director
57 Hakan Ergün, Azadiya Welat and Özgür Gündem distributor
58 Hakan Taşdelen
59 Halil İbrahim Mert, TRT (Erzurum)
60 Hamit Dilbahar, Azadiya Welat columnist
61 Hamza Günerigök, TRT
62 Hanım Büşra Erdal, Zaman reporter and columnist
63 Hasan Duman, Özgürlükçü Demokrasi distributor
64 Hatice Duman, Atılım newspaper’s owner and managing editor
65 Havva Cuştan, ETHA reporter
66 Hayati Yıldız, Azadiya Welat
67 Hidayet Karaca, Samanyolu Media Group President
68 Hüseyin Aydın, Cihan reporter
69 Hüseyin Turan, Zaman columnist
70 İbrahim Balta, Zaman business editor
71 İbrahim Kareyeğen, responsible editor for Zaman
72 İdris Okur, Cihan New Agency Çorum reporter
73 İdris Sayılgan, DİHA
74 İsmail Efe, local press advisor in İzmir
75 İsmail Ersan, Anatolia news agency
76 İsminaz Temel, ETHA editor
77 Kamuran Sunbat, DİHA Çukurova reporter (formerly)
78 Kemal Demir, TV 10
79 Kemal Özer, Evrensel
80 Kenan Karavil, Radyo Dünya editor-in-chief
81 Mehmet Ali Ay
82 Mehmet Altan
83 Mehmet Baransu, Taraf columnist/reporter
84 Mehmet Dener, Şanlıurfa.com editor-in-chief
85 Mehmet Güleş, DİHA
86 Mehmet Gündem
87 Mehmet Kuru, Zaman Eskişehir reporter
88 Mehmet Özdemir, Zaman columnist
89 Meltem Oktay, DİHA reporter
90 Mikail Barut, Özgür Halk former editor
91 Miktat Algül, Mezitli FM General Publications Coordinator
92 Mizgin Çay – Radyo Karacadağ
93 Muhammet Taşçılar, Şanlıurfa.com editor-in-chief
94 Muhsin Pilgir, Zaman and Cihan news agency
95 Murat Avcıoğlu, Zaman
96 Murat Çapan, Nokta
97 Murat Dağdeviren (Demokrat Gebze owner)
98 Murat Sabuncu, Editor-in- Chief
99 Mustafa Erkan Acar, Bugün news editor,
100 Mustafa Gök, Ankara bureau chief for Ekmek ve Adalet magazine
101 Mustafa Ünal, Zaman
102 Mutlu Çölgeçen, Millet, newsroom coordinator
103 Mutlu Özay, Cihan reporter
104 Mümtazer Türköne, Zaman columnist
105 Nadir Yücel, Çorum Yıldız (local) Editor-in-Chief
106 Nedim Türfent,DİHA
107 Nizamettin İzgi (Batman Newspaper’s owner)
108 Nuh Gönültaş
109 Nur Ener, Yeni Asya
110 Nuri Durna, TRT
111 Nuri Yeşil, Azadiya Welat Dersim bureau chief
112 Nurullah Kaya, G.antep Zaman representative
113 Oğuz Usluer, Habertürk former broadcasts coordinator
114 Osman Yakut, Zaman Antalya
115 Ömer Faruk Aydemir, İHA editor
116 Ömer Oruç, Cihan newspaper
117 Özcan Keser (TRT reporter)
118 Özkan Erdoğan, Özgürlükçü Demokrasi
119 Rabia Özkaya, Özgür Halk
120 Ramazan Alkan, Yeni Akit reporter
121 Resul Cengiz, Denizli reporter with Zaman
122 Sadık Demir – Radyo Karacadağ
123 Sait Gürka Tuzlu, Cihan reporter
124 Salih Erbekler – Radyo Karacadağ
125 Sami Tunca, Mücadele Birliği magazine Managing Editor
126 Semiha Mete, Özgürlükçü Demokrasi reporter and distributor
127 Serhat Şeftali, Zaman regional bureau chief for the Med region
128 Serkan Aydemir, Bitlis Aktüel reporter
129 Serkan Erdoğan, Özgürlükçü Demokrasi
130 Seyid Kılıç, TRT News
131 Seyithan Akyüz, Azadiya Welat Adana bureau chief
132 Şahabettin Demir, DİHA reporter
133 Şahin Alpay, Zaman columnist
134 Şeref Yılmaz, Irmak TV
135 Şerife Oruç, DİHA reporter
136 Tahsin Kürklü, Zaman – head of Logistics Department
137 Togay Okay, Özgür Gelecek
138 Tuncer Çetinkaya, Zaman Antalya
139 Ufuk Şanlı, former Vatan columnist
140 Ünal Tanık, Rota Haber editor-in-chief
141 Vahit Yazgan, İzmir Zaman bureau chief
142 Yakup Çetin, Zaman reporter
143 Yakup Şimşek, Zaman, marketing director
144 Yalçın Güler, TRT (Erzurum)
145 Yasir Kaya, Fenerbahçe TV, formerly
146 Yener Dönmez, Habervaktim news website
147 Yetkin Yıldız, Aktif Haber website editor
148 Yılmaz Kahraman, Özgür Halk editor
149 Zafer Özsoy
150 Zehra Doğan, Jinha
151 Ziya Ataman, DİHA reporter
For a full list of all the imprisoned journalists in Turkey, visit this spreadsheet. Lists of all of the foundations and associations as well as media outlets shut down can also be found at the same link, although on different tabs of the same spreadsheet.