ETHA correspondent Adil Demirci jailed pending trial on “membership in terrorist organization” and “propaganda” charges; at least 163 journos in jail 

Adil Demirci, a reporter for Etkin News Agency (ETHA), was jailed pending trial by an Istanbul court on April 17, 2018, five days after being arrested during a late night police raid in Istanbul.

After his interrogation, the prosecutor referred Demirci to a Judgeship of Peace demanding he should remain in detention pending trial on the charges of “membership in a terrorist organization” and “conducting propaganda for a terrorist organization.” The Judgeship ruled to jail Demirci pending trial.

A German citizen, Demirci is a sociologist by profession, who used to live in Cologne and contribute news articles to ETHA.

In a statement following Demirci’s arrest, Germany’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the German Consulate-General in Istanbul was seeking to provide consular services to Demirci and engaged in contact with his family as well as Turkish officials.

ETHA editor Semiha Şahin and reporter Pınar Gayıp, who were arrested the same day as Demirci, were still in custody at the Police Department as of Tuesday afternoon.

Evrensel editor-in-chief Polat stands retrial of 2013 case

Evrensel daily’s editor-in-chief Fatih Polat appeared before a court on April 17 in the retrial of a case in which he was convicted of “revealing the identity” of a victim in a news article.

Polat was sentenced to a fine of TL 10,000 in 2013 for the news story, published on May 23, 2012, while Polat was the responsible editor of Evrensel. The court had suspended the judgment.

After Polat was convicted of another charge in another media trial, the Istanbul 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance decided to review that decision and reassess the specifics of the case in a retrial.

During the first hearing of the retrial on Tuesday, Polat told the court that the news story was not intended to expose the student who was victimized. “The injured party’s last name is only mentioned by its initials in the news article on the website. It shows that we didn’t have any intent of commiting a crime,” Polat said, demanding his acquittal.

Polat’s lawyer Mustafa Söğütlü requested additional time to prepare a detailed defense statement. The court accepted the lawyer’s request and adjourned the trial to September 6, 2018.

Former columnist Hür handed down prison sentence over Tweet

Historian and former columnist Ayşe Hür was sentenced on April 17 to one year and three months in prison on the charge of “conducting propaganda for a terrorist organization” over a previous Twitter post. The 24th High Criminal Court of Istanbul suspended the verdict.

Announcing the prison sentence she was handed down in a Twitter message, Hür said the sentence would be executed if she committed a similar crime in the next five years. “The court sentenced me to the fixed tariff of one year and three months [in prison] for a single tweet, which contained a sociological definition (despite having sent 25 tweets criticizing the crime that I allegedly committed by a tweet),” Hür wrote.

Journalist Ergündoğan’s freedom of expression violated, ECtHR finds

The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruled that columnist Yalçın Ergündoğan’s right to freedom of expression was violated due to a fine he received for a 2005 column published in BirGün during his time as a columnist for that paper.

In 2010, an Istanbul court found Ergündoǧan guilty of “insulting” four plaintiffs, including the chairman of the Independent Turkey Party (BTP), Haydar Baş, holding that Ergündoğan’s article had “overstepped the boundaries of criticism and infringed, as a whole, the honor, dignity and reputation” of the plaintiffs.

In its April 17 ruling, the European Court, although ruling in favor of Ergündoğan, did not grant him compensation. The Court held that the finding of a violation constituted sufficient just satisfaction for the non-pecuniary damage sustained by Ergündoğan.

Writer İhsan Eliaçık handed down prison sentence

An Istanbul court on April 17 handed down theologian and writer İhsan Eliaçık six years and three months in prison for “conducting propaganda for an armed terrorist organization.”

For the full story, click here.

List of journalists in jail updated 

Following ETHA correspondent Adil Demirci’s detention pending trial on April 17, the number of journalists in prison in Turkey became at least 163. The full list can be accessed here.