Özgürlükçü Demokrasi publisher and responsible managing editor jailed; Yeliz Koray handed down prison sentence for critical column 

İhsan Yaşar, the publisher of Özgürlükçü Demokrasi, and İshak Yasul, the managing editor of the pro-Kurdish newspaper, were jailed pending trial by an Istanbul court on April 6, 2018.

Both Yaşar, who was detained on March 28, during the raid on the newspaper’s head office and its printing company Gün Matbaacılık, and Yasul, who was detained two days later, on March 30, face “membership in a terrorist organization” and “propaganda” accusations.

The newspaper’s editors Mehmet Ali Çelebi, Reyhan Hacıoğlu and Hicran Urun, employees Pınar Tarlak, Ramazan Sola and Nedim Demirkıran, as well as former staff member Mehmet Beyazit, arrested on April 4 as part of the same investigation launched on allegations that the newspaper had ties with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), were still in custody as of April 9.

Gün Matbaacılık owner, printing facility workers jailed 

In a related development, an Istanbul court on April 5 jailed 20 employees of Gün Matbaacılık, including owner Kasım Zengin, pending trial on the accusation of “knowingly and willingly aiding and abetting a terrorist organization.” Gün Matbaacılık, the company that printed Özgürlükçü Demokrasi, was targeted in the same operation as the newspaper.

Twenty-three suspects who were taken into custody on March 28 as part of that investigation appeared before the prosecutor on April 4 at the Istanbul Courthouse in Çağlayan. The prosecutor referred 20 of the suspects to Criminal Judgeships of Peace for arrest with the accusation of “knowingly and willingly aiding and abetting a terrorist group.” The 11th Istanbul Criminal Judgeship of Peace arrested printing house workers Cumali Öz, Mehmet Kadir Özkara, Mürsel Demir, Özgür Bozkurt, Kemal Daşdöğen, Süleyman Güneş, Muhammet Özkan and Uğur Selman Kelekçiler on the same charge.

The 12th Istanbul Criminal Judgeship of peace jailed the printing company’s owner Zengin and printing house workers Erdoğan Zamur, Cemal Tunç, İhsan Sinmiş, İrfan Karaca, Kazım Göçer, Mehmet Emin Sümeli, Musa Kaya, Sadettin Demirtaş, Necat Hizarcı, Polat Arslan and Mahmut Abay pending trial on the accusations of “membership in a terrorist organization” and “conducting propaganda for a terrorist organization.”

Journalist Mehmet Dursun jailed pending trial 

Van-based journalist Mehmet Dursun was arrested by a local court on April 6, three days after he was taken into custody at the Van Police Department, where he reported to give his statement.

A gag order was issued on Dursun’s file. The 5th High Criminal Court of Van jailed Dursun pending trial on “conducting propaganda for a terrorist organization” charge. The Mezopotamya news agency reported that phone conversations from 2014 between the journalist and his sources were among grounds for the accusations.

Reporter Ahmet Kanbal faces prison term on “propaganda” charges

Ahmet Kanbal, a reporter for the Mezopotamya news agency, will stand trial facing nine years of imprisonment on “conducting propaganda for a terrorist organization” charge.

Kanbal was taken into custody on February 8 in İzmir as part of an investigation launched by the Mersin Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office. He was released a day later, on February 9.

The indictment concerning that investigation, issued recently and sent to the Public Prosecutor’s Office in İzmir, accuses Kanbal of “conducting propaganda for a terrorist organization” in a “successive manner” and “by means of the press.” It includes 31 social media posts by Kanbal as well as a news story he wrote concerning a mob attack on the Northern Cyprus-based Afrika newspaper among the grounds for the accusations. Kanbal’s story concerned a group of angry mob attacking the offices of Afrika after the newspaper published a headline story critical of Turkey’s military operation on Afrin. The story also included comments from Afrika’s editor in chief Şener Levent.

The indictment into Kanbal was accepted by the 2nd High Criminal Court of Izmir.

Yeliz Koray handed down prison sentence for column on July 15 coup 

Yeliz Koray, the managing editor of the local newspaper Kocaeli Köz, was sentenced by a Kocaeli court to one year and three months in prison on April 5 for a newspaper column she wrote in 2017.

Koray was on trial for “openly inciting hatred and hostility” through her article, which concerned the July 15, 2016 coup attempt, and was published on the first year anniversary of the attempted coup.

The court suspended Koray’s sentence due to Koray not having a previous criminal record. Koray said she would appeal the ruling.

Journalist Ömer Ödemiş taken into custody 

Journalist Ömer Ödemiş, the Middle East representative and editor for the online newspaper ABC and TELE 1 Television, was taken into custody on April 7 in Hatay as part of an investigation launched by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office.

Ödemiş, who was detained on the accusation of “conducting propaganda [for PKK/KCK],” was brought to Ankara. Anti-terror police also searched Ödemiş’s apartment in Ankara, confiscating several documents, books and digital material found in the house.

Aggravated life imprisonment sought for Zaman columnists 

A prosecutor on April 5 sought aggravated life imprisonment and an additional 15 years in prison for nine of the 11 former columnists of the shuttered Zaman newspaper on the charges of “violating the Constitution” and “membership in an armed terrorist organization.”

A detailed report on the latest hearing in the “Zaman trial,” monitored by P24 in the courtroom, can be found here.

RED magazine writer taken into custody, released 

Nevriye Kurt, a writer for the leftist magazine RED, was taken into custody on April 3 during an early morning police raid on her home in Ankara. Kurt, who was detained on account of her social media posts, was released a day later, on April 4. Police confiscated Kurt’s cell phone during the raid.

Journalist Nedim Türfent in solitary confinement, one year on

Imprisoned journalist Nedim Türfent, a reporter for the shuttered Dicle news agency (DİHA), has been in solitary confinement for the past year, and his numerous pleas with the prison management have not produced any results, the journalist said in a recent letter from prison.

Türfent was sentenced to eight years and nine months in prison on the charge of “membership in a terrorist organization” on December 15, 2017, at the end of his trial at the 2nd High Criminal Court of Hakkâri. He is currently serving this sentence at the Van Maximum Security Prison.

In his letter to the Mezopotamya news agency, Türfent highlighted his situation and added that he made numerous requests to the prison management to be placed in a room with other inmates. The prison management rejected his requests, telling him that in such a case he “would write about a [fellow inmate] every day and tell their stories.”

Türfent has been in prison since May 2016, when he was jailed pending trial. He was remanded in pretrial detention throughout his trial.

Journalists in prison 

Upon the arrests on April 6 of Özgürlükçü Demokrasi owner İhsan Yaşar and responsible managing editor İshak Yasul, and Van-based journalist Mehmet Dursun, the number of jailed journalists in Turkey became at least 157. A detailed list can be reached here.