Imprisoned journalists Özkan Erdoğan and Serkan Erdoğan released pending trial; Halkın Nabzı Editor in Chief İshak Karakaş arrested, bringing number of jailed journalists in Turkey to 155
Journalist Ishak Karakaş, the editor in chief of the weekly newspaper Halkın Nabzı (The Public’s Pulse), was arrested on January 26 for “conducting propaganda for a terrorist organization.” Karakaş, who is also a contributor to the news website Artı Gerçek, was taken into custody on January 22 during a midnight police raid at his home in Istanbul on account of his social media posts about Turkey’s ongoing “Operation Olive Branch” on the Syrian town of Afrin.
Two employees of the pro-Kurdish newspaper Özgürlükçü Demokrasi, Özkan Erdoğan and Serkan Erdoğan, were released pending trial on January 25 during the first hearing of the court case against them at the Mersin 8th High Criminal Court.
Özkan Erdoğan and Serkan Erdoğan were imprisoned pending trial on July 28 and 29, 2017, respectively, on charges of “membership in a terrorist organization” and “conducting propaganda for a terrorist organization.”
Özkan Erdoğan was initially detained for being in possession of a magazine deemed “illegal” by the Turkish authorities. Serkan Erdoğan was detained during a home raid the same night also in Mersin and later arrested by a Criminal Judgeship on the same charges.
During the hearing, both journalists and their lawyers made their defense statements, in which they stressed that none of the publications they were in possession of were banned, despite the allegations. The trial was adjourned to May 22, 2018.
The latest developments brought the number of jailed journalists in Turkey to 155. The full list of imprisoned journalists in Turkey can be seen here.
Journalist Hayri Demir released on judicial control terms
Mesopotamia news agency reporter Hayri Demir, who was taken into custody on January 22 in Ankara during a police raid on his home, was released on January 26 on judicial control measures. Demir was detained on account of his social media posts on Turkey’s military operation on Afrin.
8 more arrested for social media posts on Afrin
A total of six people have been arrested as of January 26 in the Ardahan, Zonguldak and Balıkesir provinces on account of their social media posts concerning Turkey’s military operation on Afrin, Bianet reported. Four people in Ardahan, and two others in Zonguldak and Balıkesir were sent to prison. On January 26, two more people who were taken into custody on January 22 in Ankara were also arrested, bringing the total number of latest arrests related to social media posts on Afrin to eight.
The Anatolia news agency reported on January 24 that 150 people had been detained during investigations carried out in 31 provinces across Turkey since the beginning of Turkey’s military operation on Afrin. Eleven of them were arrested, Anatola said, seven of whom were later released on judicial control terms.
As part of the ongoing “social media operation,” Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Muğla Provincial Co-Chair Fatoş Ay, HDP member Mehmet Polat and retired teacher Ali Ulvi Oğur in Kayseri have been arrested.
Turkey “notifies” Facebook, Twitter, Youtube on Afrin posts
Turkey has also issued notifications to social media platforms Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, asking the platforms to remove content potentially critical of its military operation on Afrin.
The Habertürk daily reported that the Information and Communication Technologies Authority (BTK) had been monitoring and banning access to online content critical of “Operation Olive Branch.”
Access to Jin News blocked by BTK
The BTK banned access to the online news portal Jin News in two separate occasions during the week of January 22. The first ban came on January 23 on account of the website’s reports concerning the National Intelligence Organization (MİT). The news portal, founded on September 25, 2017, by an all-female group of journalists, relaunched the website on a new url, which was again blocked as per a January 24, 2018 ruling issued by the Ankara 1st Criminal Judicature of Peace.
Jin News went back online once again on January 26 on its new url, http://www.jinnews2.com.
RTÜK fines radio station for ‘insulting’ Aliyev
Turkey’s broadcasting watchdog the Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) fined Show Radio, a private radio station broadcasting nationwide, for “insulting” Azerbaijan’s President İlham Aliyev and his wife Mehriban Aliyeva during the January 16, 2018 broadcast of a talk show called “Matrax.” The broadcaster will pay a pecuniary fine “amounting to 5 percent of its commercial income” in addition to the talk show being temporarily suspended.