Two more journalists sent to prison; jailed reporter Mehmet Baransu continues defense statement in latest hearing of Taraf trial

İsmail Çoban, the former managing editor of the shuttered Kurdish-language newspaper Azadiya Welat, was jailed pending trial on May 3 following 10 days in custody.

Çoban was taken into custody on April 23 in Mersin on grounds of an arrest warrant issued by the Diyarbakır Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office as part of an investigation against the journalist. Following his arrest in Mersin, Çoban was brought to Diyarbakır, where he gave his statement at the Diyarbakır Police Department.

Following the completion of procedures at the police department, Çoban was transferred to the Diyarbakır courthouse on May 3 to give his statement to a prosecutor. The prosecutor then referred Çoban to a Criminal Judgeship of Peace on “membership in a terrorist group” charges.

Çoban was jailed pending trial and sent to the D Type Prison.

The accusations against Çoban are unclear at this stage because of a confidentiality order on the investigation.

Mehmet Baransu continues defense statement in Taraf trial 

Jailed reporter Mehmet Baransu continued his defense statement in the eighth hearing of the case against former journalists of the shuttered Taraf daily on May 2-4 at the 13th High Criminal Court of Istanbul. The case concerns the alleged publication of documents called “Egemen War Plan” in the newspaper.

In its interim ruling at the end of the three-day hearing, the court ordered the continuation of Baransu’s detention on remand, and accepted requests from five ex-military officials to join the case as co-plaintiffs. The court also set August 7-9 as the date for the next hearing.

A detailed report on the hearing, monitored in the courtroom by P24, can be accessed here.

Journalist Mehmet Sıddık Damar sent to prison 

Mehmet Sıddık Damar, a former reporter for the shuttered Dicle News Agency (DİHA), was arrested on April 30 to be sent to jail to serve a prison term, after an appellate court upheld an earlier conviction. Damar was sent to the Istanbul Courthouse to be processed before being transferred to Metris Prison.

For further details, see this report.

Seda Taşkın remains behind bars at first hearing of her trial

Jailed Mezopotamya Agency reporter Seda Taşkın appeared before the 2nd High Criminal Court of Muş on April 30 for the first hearing of the trial against her on terrorism-related charges.

At the end of the hearing, the court ruled to continue Taşkın’s pre-trial detention and set July 2 as the date of the next hearing. Taşkın has been in detention on remand in the Sincan Prison in Ankara since January 23, 2018, as part of this case.

A detailed report about the hearing, monitored in the courtroom by P24, can be accessed here.

Court convicts 10 suspects separated from Zaman trial

Eighteen individuals formerly employed in companies linked with Feza Publications Inc., the parent company of the shuttered Zaman newspaper, appeared before the 13th High Criminal Court of Istanbul on April 27 and 30 for the final hearing of their trial.

The court handed down 10 of the 18 suspects prison terms varying between 3 years, 1 month and 15 days and 9 years for “membership in a terrorist organization” and “aiding a terrorist organization without being a member.” Five of the suspects were acquitted while the files of 3 people were separated.

A detailed report on the hearing, monitored in the courtroom by P24, can be found here.

Other freedom of expression cases of the past week

Two more academics who signed 2016’s Academics for Peace declaration appeared before an Istanbul court on May 4 for the first hearings of their trials on “conducting propaganda for a terrorist organization” charges. Academics Melike Acar and Ayşegün Soysal appeared before the 27th High Criminal Court of Istanbul. Neither Acar nor Soysal gave defense statements during the hearings. Both academics rejected the accusations and demanded their immediate acquittal. The lawyer representing Acar and Soysal also requested their acquittal, and the merging of both cases. The court rejected the requests and set October 11 as the date for the next hearings.

A prosecutor demanded prison terms for Selahattin Demirtaş, the former co-chairperson of the People’s Democratic Party (HDP), and HDP MP Sırrı Süreyya Önder on “conducting propaganda for a terrorist organization” charges. Submitting his final opinion during the April 30 hearing of the case at the 26th High Criminal Court of Istanbul, the prosecutor requested that both Demirtaş and Önder are sentenced to five years in prison each. The charges stem from the speeches Demirtaş and Önder made during the 2013 Nevruz celebration in Istanbul.

Ayşe Çelik, a school teacher who was imprisoned on April 20 to serve a 15-month sentence she was handed down in 2017, was released on probation on May 4. Çelik was convicted of “conducting propaganda for a terrorist organization” in April 2017 for her remarks on a live TV show in 2015. She was sent to prison with her baby daughter in Diyarbakır on April 20 after her request for an additional period of delay was rejected. Çelik’s release comes after her lawyer, Mahsuni Karaman, filed for her release on probation.

P24 updates its list of jailed journalists and media workers

P24 has updated its list of jailed journalists and media workers, a list compiled from open sources using information available to the general public.

Following the release of four detained suspects at the end of the Feza Publications Inc. trial, and the imprisonment of journalists İsmail Çoban and Mehmet Sıddık Damar during the past week, there are at least 174 journalists and media workers either in pretrial detention or serving prison sentences in Turkey’s prisons as of May 5, 2018.

The full list can be accessed here.