Turkey’s largest media group, Doğan Media, to be sold to pro-government conglomerate

 

Doğan Media Group, Turkey’s largest media group, which comprises of newspapers and television channels including Hürriyet and CNN Türk, is to be sold to a pro-government company.

Doğan Holding confirmed in a statement on 22 March that talks had begun on the sale of Doğan Media Group to the Demirören Group of businessman Erdoğan Demirören for around $1 billion. The takeover plan was first reported by T24 news website on 21 March.

The Doğan Media Group own the newspapers Hürriyet and Posta, and two of Turkey’s main entertainment and news channels, Kanal D and CNN Türk. The CNN Türk and Hürriyet, while in no way anti-government, had been regarded as holding a relatively independent editorial line in recent years. 

ECtHR: Journalists Altan and Alpay’s rights violated

The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) announced on 20 March its long-awaited judgments on applications filed on behalf of Turkish journalists Şahin Alpay and Mehmet Altan, who were imprisoned following a failed coup attempt in 2016.

The Strasbourg court found that there had been a violation of personal liberty and security under Article 5/1 of the European Convention of Human Rights and of freedom of expression under Article 10. The court also ordered Turkey to pay 21,500 euros to each journalist in non-pecuniary damages.

A more detailed report on the judgments can be accessed here. 

“RedHack case” adjourned until September

Trial of six journalists who face terrorism and other charges for reporting on e-mails of Turkey’s Energy Minister Berat Albayrak leaked by a group that calls itself RedHack continued on 20 March at the Istanbul 29th High Criminal Court.

The session, followed by P24 from inside the courtroom, was attended by former Diken news portal editor Tunca Öğreten, BirGün newspaper employee Mahir Kanaat and ETHA news agency Responsible Editor Derya Okatan. Three other defendants, the shuttered Dicle news agency (DİHA) news editor Ömer Çelik, DİHA reporter Metin Yoksu and Yolculuk newspaper Managing Editor Eray Sargın did not attend.

Announcing its interim ruling at the end of the brief session, the court decided to keep an international travel ban on all six defendants in place, while lifting a judicial control measure under which Öğreten and Kanaat had been required to regularly report to a police station.

Noting that an expert report on digital materials seized from the defendants is yet to arrive, the court decided to wait for the report and adjourn the trial until 13 September 2018.

Journalists Ömer Çelik, Derya Okatan, Metin Yoksu and Eray Sargın are charged with “terrorism propaganda” and “preventing an IT system, distorting it, changing or destroying data” as part of the case, while Mahir Kanaat is accused of “membership in a terrorist group” and “preventing an IT system, distorting it, changing or destroying data.”

Tunca Öğreten, on the other hand, faces the charge of “aiding a terrorist organization without being its member,” in addition to the cyber crime charges.

JinNews reporter detained in pre-Newroz raids

Scores of people, including JinNews news agency reporter Duygu Erol, were detained on 20 March in a series of police operations across Turkey on the eve of Newroz celebrations on 21 March.

Erol was detained during a series of coordinated house raids in Ankara. Others detained in the raids included a local executive of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).

News reports said an arrest warrant was also released against Mezopotamya Agency reporter Selami Aslan as part of the same operations.

Those detained were reportedly targeted because of their social media posts and informant tips that they are preparing to “stir unrest.”

On 21 March, two local reporters, Mehmet Uğur Çakıl of Yenigün newspaper and Arif Bulut of Tigris Haber newspaper, were detained while covering a Newroz rally in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır. The two journalists were released later in the day.

Erdoğan’s lawyer joins “insult” case against Ahmet Altan 

Journalist and writer Ahmet Altan appeared before an Istanbul court on 20 March at the latest hearing in a case where he stands accused of “insulting the president” in an article published in 2016, titled “The New Ergenekon.”

Altan, who was given aggravated life sentence for “attempting to overthrow the constitutional order” at the end of a separate trial on 16 February, attended the hearing via court videoconferencing system SEGBİS.

During the hearing, followed by P24 from inside the courtroom, the attorney representing President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan stated that the Presidency’s complaint against Altan is still in effect and requested to join the case as a plaintiff.

The Istanbul 30th Criminal Court of First Instance agreed to allow Erdoğan’s lawyer to join the case, disregarding Altan’s plea that the request should be rejected. The court adjourned the trial until 21 June.

Mezopotamya Agency reporter detained in Diyarbakır

Mezopotamya Agency reporter Esra Solin Dal was detained during a police raid at her home in Diyarbakır’s Bağlar district on 20 March following a tip-off.

Police seized Dal’s camera during the raid. Dal was taken to the Diyarbakır Police Department’s anti-terror unit for interrogation. 

Dal was released without being charged after giving her statement to the police on 22 March.

14th hearing at Taraf MGK report trial

The 14th hearing in the trial of former Taraf reporter Mehmet Baransu and responsible managing editor Murat Şevki Çoban, who are accused of obtaining classified documents and exposing secret information pertaining to the security of state, was held on 21 March.

The Istanbul Anadolu 10th High Criminal Court is hearing the case which is related to a news report published in Taraf on November 28, 2013 titled “Decision to finish off Gülen was taken by MGK in 2004.” The story said the now-banned Fethullah Gülen network was listed as a threat in a National Security Council (MGK) meeting in that year.

The two journalists face between 26 to 52 years for a variety of charges, including divulging state secrets and exposing documents of the National Intelligence Agency (MIT).

The court adjourned the trial until 27 June to give time to Baransu, who said he wanted to give his defense statement in presence of a lawyer. Baransu’s lawyer had resigned from the case. 

DİHA executives go on trial

Trial of two executives of the shuttered Dicle News Agency (DİHA) on the charge of “terrorist group membership” began on 22 March in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır.

DİHA’s former Executive Board Chairman Zekeriya Güzüpek and Responsible Managing Editor Dicle Müftüoğlu are on trial in connection with 20 reports published by DİHA in 2015. They each face up to 15 years in jail.

Güzüpek attended the first hearing, held at the Diyarbakır 5th High Criminal Court, while Müftüoğlu did not appear on health grounds.

Presenting his defense statement at the hearing, Güzüpek rejected terrorism accusations and demanded his acquittal, saying the reports included in the case file fall under freedom of press.

The court agreed to issue an order to obligate Müftüoğlu’s appearance at the next session and adjourned the trial until 8 June. 

Journalist İshak Karakaş to go on trial on 8 May

The first hearing in the trial of journalist İshak Karakaş will be held on 8 May at the Istanbul 28th High Criminal Court.

Karakaş, editor-in-chief of the local daily Halkın Nabzı and a columnist for the news portal Artı Gerçek, was placed in pre-trial detention on 26 January over his social media posts on Turkey’s military operation in Syria’s Afrin. Karakaş is charged with “spreading propaganda for a terrorist organization.”

 

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. 

 

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