Jailed journalist Nur Ener Kılınç released from prison on house arrest; 4 journalists in Adana convicted of “membership in terrorist organization”

Nur Ener Kılınç, an editor for the Yeni Asya newspaper, who had been in pretrial detention at the Bakırköy Prison in Istanbul since March 2017, was ordered to be released and put on house arrest by the 26th High Criminal Court of Istanbul on February 20, 2018 at the latest hearing of the case in which she is standing trial on “membership in a terrorist organization” charges.

Kılınç was arrested in March 2017 on the account that she had an encrypted messaging app called “ByLock” on her smartphone, an application purported to be used chiefly by people who are alleged to be members of the Fethullah Gülen network.

During the hearing, monitored by P24 at the courtroom, Kılınç gave her defense statement, in which she said the ByLock app was uploaded on her phone by another person during a job interview and that she had only briefly contacted those people at the time via the said app.

The prosecutor then requested the continuation of Kılınç’s detention on remand.

The court issued an interim decision, in which it ruled for Kılınç’s release on judicial control terms pending the conclusion of her trial, putting her on house arrest. The trial was adjourned to April 19.

The court also ruled that criminal complaints are filed against the individuals Kılınç mentioned in her defense statement.

With Nur Ener Kılınç’s release from the Bakırköy Prison in Istanbul on February 20, the number of journalists in prison in Turkey dropped to 154. The full list can be seen here.

Former DİHA reporter Şermin Soydan acquitted

Şermin Soydan, a former reporter for the shuttered Dicle news agency (DİHA), was acquitted on February 21 in a case in which she faced life imprisonment on “espionage” charges.

Nurcan Baysal handed down 10 month-jail sentence 

T24 columnist Nurcan Baysal was handed down a 10-month prison sentence on February 20, 2018, for her 2016 report in which she recounted scenes from Cizre in the aftermath of an operation by the Turkish military in the southeastern town.

Announcing its verdict at the conclusion of the fifth hearing, the Istanbul 54th Criminal Court of First Instance initially sentenced Baysal to one year in prison for “publicly denigrating the security force.” The court then reduced the sentence to 10 months for good conduct and ruled for the suspension of the verdict, releasing Baysal on condition that she does not repeat the offence within five years.

4 journalists convicted of “membership in terrorist organization”

A court in Adana on February 16 sentenced journalist Aytekin Gezici and three other journalists to prison terms between nine years and seven-and-a-half years on charges of “membership in a terrorist organization.”

Gezici, who had been in pretrial detention since July 2016, was on trial alongside 10 other journalists in the case, in which they were accused of being members of “Fetullahçı Terör Örgütü/Paralel Devlet Yapılanması (FETÖ/PDY),” the name given by Turkish authorities to the Fethullah Gülen movement.

The 11th High Criminal Court of Adana sentenced Gezici, who was the only imprisoned defendant in the case, as well as Yüksel Evsen and Mustafa Naim Yalçınel, to nine years in prison, while Abdullah Özyurt, a former reporter for the Zaman daily, who had been released and put on house arrest in September, to 7 years and 6 months in jail. An arrest warrant was issued for Özyurt.

The court acquitted the rest of the defendants, Salim Büyükkaya, the chairperson of the Adana branch of Journalists Union of Turkey (TGS); Rıfat Söylemez, the owner of the local newspaper Adana Haber; Hakan Bülent Yardımcı, the owner of the local newspaper Ekspres, Taner Talaş, the owner of the local newspaper Adana Medya; as well as journalists Ali Pekmezci, Abdurrahim Haklıkul and Osman Palamut.

Özgürlükçü Demokrasi distributor detained in Diyarbakır

Ahmet Boltan, a distributor for the pro-Kurdish Özgürlükçü Demokrasi newspaper, was taken into custody on February 20, 2018 in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır. The Mezopotamya news agency reported on Tuesday that Boltan was detained by the police as he was leaving the newspaper’s distribution office in Diyarbakır. The grounds for Boltan’s arrest was not disclosed, Mezopotamya said.

Court expected to announce verdict on 19 journalists

The 25th High Criminal Court of Istanbul is expected to announce its verdict concerning the case publicly known as the “FETÖ media trial” this week, when the fourth hearing in the trial is held on February 22 and 23 at the Çağlayan Courthouse in Istanbul.

Twenty-nine journalists, including former T24 columnist Murat Aksoy and former singer and newspaper columnist Atilla Taş, are standing trial on “membership in a terrorist organization” and “coup” charges in the case. Nineteen of the defendants are in pretrial detention.

The prosecutor submitted his final opinion on the case at the previous hearing on February 6, laying out the charges and the punishment he requests for the defendants. The prosecutor requested the court to acquit 13 defendants of “coup” charges. He requested that all but three defendants, Murat Aksoy, Gökçe Fırat Çulhaoğlu and Muhterem Tanık, be charged with “membership in FETÖ/PDY terrorist organization” while the rest be charged with “aiding the FETÖ/PDY terrorist organization without being a part of its hierarchical structure.” The prosecutor also requested the release of Çulhaoğlu on account of the changed accusation. Çulhaoğlu is currently in pre-trial detention on coup-related charges.

The prosecutor requested that four defendants who had been released pending trial in the previous hearings are re-arrested, arguing that the “terrorist group membership” accusation required the defendants are held in pretrial detention. The four defendants are Ali Akkuş, Cihan Acar, Bünyamin Köseli and Atilla Taş.

The court delayed decision on the prosecutor’s requests, saying they will be concluded along with the final verdict in the case, which is expected to be issued this week, after the defendants and defense lawyers present their final defense statements.

 

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.