Journalists Mehmet Altan and Şahin Alpay not released despite Constitutional Court ruling
The Constitutional Court on January 11 ruled that the rights of jailed journalists Mehmet Altan and Şahin Alpay, and Turhan Günay, who was released in late July after spending months in prison, were violated as a result of their pre-trial detention. Alpay and Altan, however, remained in prison when the penal courts where the journalists are standing trial refused to put the ruling into process.The Istanbul 13th High Criminal Court, where Alpay is on trial on “coup” and “terrorism” charges, and the Istanbul 26th High Criminal Court, which oversees the trial of Mehmet Altan along with his brother Ahmet Altan and journalist Nazlı Ilıcak, first refused to release the journalists, saying the top court’s reasoned judgments had not yet been formally communicated and their detentions would be reviewed thereafter.
On January 12, the Istanbul 13th Criminal Court released a new decision after reviewing the reasoned judgement of the Constitutional Court, refusing to implement the top court’s ruling saying it overstepped its jurisdiction and usurped trial court’s authority.
The Istanbul 26th High Criminal Court was yet to deliver a new decision as of Saturday, January 13.
Ruling on individual applications filed on behalf of Alpay and Altan, the Constitutional Court said their detentions led to violations of the “right to personal liberty and security,” enshrined under Article 19 of the Constitution, and “freedom of expression and the press,” protected under articles 26 and 28. The decision was taken by an 11-6 majority vote. Both journalists have been imprisoned for more than a year.
Ahmet Altan sentenced for “insulting” the president
The fifth hearing of a trial against journalist and writer Ahmet Altan, in which he was accused of “insulting the president,” was held on January 11 at the Istanbul 32nd Criminal Court of First Instance.
The court convicted Altan, sentencing him to a fine of TL 7,000 at the end of the trial. Altan’s lawyers said they would appeal the ruling.
Journalist Ersin Özdemir arrested while covering protest
Police arrested Managing Editor of Kızıl Bayrak newspaper Ersin Özdemir on January 13 as he was following a demonstration by a solidarity group for families of inmates and detainees held in Taksim, Istanbul.
Özdemir was reportedly beaten up by the police as he was being arrested and was accused of “resisting the police.” He was released later in the same day after giving his statement to the police.
Radio station, TV channel closed down by new emergency decree
Local radio station Hatmar FM and television channel YEK TV, both broadcasting in the southern province of Hatay, were closed down under a new emergency decree that went into effect on January 12.
According to the decree, which was published in the Official Gazette, Hatmar FM and YEK TV were shuttered due to their links to groups “that have been determined to be operating against the national security of the state.”
DİHA reporter remains behind bars after hearing
Şerife Oruç, a former reporter for the shuttered Dicle News Agency (DİHA), on January 11 appeared at the third hearing of a case in which she is indicted for “membership in a terrorist organization.”
Oruç, in prison now for more than a year-and-a-half, was taken into custody on July 3, 2016 in the southeastern province of Batman, and was arrested two days later, on July 5, 2016.
Oruç took part in the hearing, held at the Batman 2nd High Criminal Court, via the court video-conferencing system SEGBİS from the Mardin Prison, where she is currently held.
Selman Keleş detained again after objection to his release
Selman Keleş, a reporter and photojournalist for the shuttered Dihaber News Agency who had been released pending trial in November 2017 after eight months of pre-trial detention, was detainedagain on January 12 in Diyarbakır by anti-terror police after a prosecutor objected to his release.
Taraf MGK document report trial postponed to March
The 13th hearing of a case where former Taraf reporter Mehmet Baransu and the newspaper’s former Responsible Managing Editor Murat Şevki Çoban are on trial for a news report published on November 28, 2013 was held on January 9 at the Istanbul Anadolu 10th High Criminal Court.
Baransu, who is yet to present his defense statement, was not brought to the courtroom as he was attending another hearing at the Istanbul Courthouse in Çağlayan. The court decided to adjourn the trial until March 21, 2018 to allow time for Baransu to make his defense statement.
The case concerns publication of a report on a National Security Council (MGK) decision in the shuttered Taraf newspaper. The report, headlined “Decision to finish off Gülen was taken by MGK in 2004,” said the Fethullah Gülen network was listed as a threat in a MGK meeting on August 25, 2004.
The indictment says the report exposes a MGK document that should remain confidential. The defendants are accused of “Acquiring documents pertaining to the security of the state,” “Exposing documents that should remain confidential for reasons relating to the security and political interests of the state,” and “Exposing documents that pertain to the missions and activities of the National Intelligence Agency (MİT),” charges that carry between 26 to 52 years in prison.
Cumhuriyet reporter indicted for 2017 story
Alican Uludağ, a reporter for the Ankara office of the Cumhuriyet daily, has been indicted for his news report headlined “Evetçi Savcı FETÖ toplantısında” (“Yes Vote Supporter Prosecutor Attended FETÖ Meeting”), published in the March 20, 2017 edition of the newspaper.
On January 8, a court in Ankara accepted the indictment against Ulucan, in which he is charged with “violating the confidentiality of the investigation” into the said prosecutor and four other members of the judiciary through secret witness accounts in his report.
Ulucan will stand trial at the Ankara 37th Criminal Court of First Instance.
DHA reporter acquitted in case concerning 2015 news report
Doğan News Agency (DHA) reporter Felat Bozarslan on January 11 was acquitted in a case against him held at the Diyarbakır 2nd High Criminal Court that sought four-and-a-half years in prison for Bozarslan for a news story published in 2015.
In that news report, Bozarslan reported about a court’s decision in 2015 to give reduced sentence for good conduct to a suspect who was convicted of child molestation. The Diyarbakır 2nd High Criminal Court acquitted Bozarslan on the ground that the elements of criminal offense were not present.
Artı Gerçek writer detained for ‘’terrorist propaganda’’
Fadıl Öztürk, an author and poet who is a contributor to the online news portal Artı Gerçek, was taken into custody on January 5 from his home in İzmir by the anti-terror police due to a search and arrest warrant against him on charges of “writing articles that spread propaganda for a terrorist organization.”
Öztürk, who was taken into custody alongside seven others as part of the investigation, was released on judicial control on January 9.
Speaking to Artı Gerçek following his release, Öztürk said the charges against him included “being a member of TİKKO, PKK, THKP, THKO and Dev-Yol, all at once.” He also noted that many of his articles that have been published by Artı Gerçek have been included in the file against him but that neither the police nor the prosecutor asked any questions regarding those articles during the interrogations, but that they rather focused on his social media posts in which he talked about Selahattin Demirtaş or Abdullah Öcalan.
TV10 executive taken into custody
Veli Büyükşahin, the executive board director of the shuttered TV10 and an Artı Gerçek news portal contributor, was arrested on January 10 during a raid in İstanbul by the anti-terror police.
Author Güneş Daşlı and Veysi Altındaş, one of the signatories of 2016’s Academics for Peace petition, were among the 30 people who were taken into custody during the operation, for which no official explanation has been provided.
Employee of pro-Kurdish daily detained
Yüksel Azak, an employee of the Diyarbakır-based pro-Kurdish newspaper Özgürlükçü Demokrasi was detained on January 12 in the eastern province of Bingöl during a police raid on his home.
During the search, police seized Azak’s laptop computer, his mobile phone and a book. Azak was taken into custody in connection with a complaint filed against him in 2016, his family told the Mezopotamya Agency.
Press Council marks “Working Journalists” Day in Silivri
The Turkish Press Council High Committee held its first regular meeting of this year on January 10 — marked in Turkey annually as the Day of Working Journalists — in Silivri, a district of İstanbul that is home to the infamous prison where dozens of journalists in Turkey are currently imprisoned.
The committee’s members reiterated the plea for the release of jailed journalists during the convention, held at the Yaşar Kemal Cultural Center in Silivri.