Özgür Gündem advisory board members Alpay and Erdoğan remain in prison, one DİHA reporter released
The İstanbul 23rd High Criminal Court ruled for the release of writer Aslı Erdoğan and linguist Necmiye Alpay, who were both members of the advisory board of the shuttered Özgür Gündem daily. However, it soon emerged that the release ruling concerned only one accusation — “disrupting the unity of the state and the integrity of the country”; a crime under Article 302 of the Turkish Penal Code. The two writers remained in prison, with a prosecutor telling those observing the trial that the two writers will be kept in prison until the arrest rulings in place for them regarding other accusations — such as membership in a terrorist organization — are overturned. The court also ruled for continued imprisonment for İnan Kızılkaya, Özgür Gündem’s newsroom editor and Zana Kaya, the daily’s editor-in-chief.
Şermin Soydan released
Dicle News Agency (DİHA) reporter Şermin Soydan was released by a Diyarbakır court on Nov. 23, ending a nearly eight-month long imprisonment. She faces life in prison for reporting on an operation conducted by Turkish security forces in Hakkari’s Yüksekova district. She hasn’t been acquitted of the alleged crime and her next hearing will be on Dec. 25.
DİHA was shut down by a Cabinet Decree released on Oct. 29.
On Nov. 21, Aysel Işık, a journalist filming in Şırnak province, where an eight-month curfew was recently lifted, was arrested on charges of membership in a terrorist organization while filming the aftermath of security operations in the province.
Currently, the number of journalists in Turkish prisons is 145.
Baransu to remain in prison
A former reporter with the Taraf newspaper, Mehmet Baransu, was on trial on Nov. 23 on charges of acquiring classified documents and membership in a terrorist organization. Baransu has been imprisoned since March 2014. Journalists Yasemin Çongar, Ahmet Altan and Yıldıray Oğur are also defendants in the same trial facing the accusation of having exposed state secrets. The panel of judges ruled to keep Baransu in prison, adjourning the session until Feb. 15, 2017.
There is a detention warrant Tuncay Opçin, the fifth defendant in the case, who is faced with exactly the same charges as Mehmet Baransu and known to have fled the country soon after the prosecutor’s investigation was leaked to the press.
Media organizations shut down
On Nov. 22, the Turkish government issued a new decree shutting down 9 media organizations and 375 civil society organizations.
Cabinet decrees in Turkey are issued under State of Emergency rules, which were introduced following a failed coup on July 15.
The media organizations shut down by the new decree were: Express Gazetesi (Adana), Türkiye Manşet (Çorum), Dağyeli Gazetesi (Hatay), Akis Gazetesi (Kütahya), İpekyolu Gazetesi (Ordu), Son Dakika Gazetesi (İzmir), Yedigün Gazetesi (Ankara), Haberexen Dergisi(Samsun) and Batman FM. The number of media organizations shut down under State of Emergency has reached 176.
Earlier court rulings in November
On Nov. 17, a Diyarbakır court handed down a prison sentence of two years and four months for İsmail Çoban, thhe managing editor for the Kurdish-language daily Azadiya Welat, also shut down under State of Emergency. Çoban’s lawyer has said they will appeal the ruling, and the journalist has not been arrested.