Number of journalists in prison stays at 151 with one release and one new arrest

A reporter for the shuttered Dicle News Agency (DİHA) was arrested on charges of membership in a terrorist organization on Jan. 20, while a columnist who had been under arrest since December last year on charges of insulting the president and other public officials was released. 

The number of individuals who are in prison for journalism or for being employed in the news media has remained at 151 as before. According to P24’s list, Kaya has become the 14th DİHA journalist to be imprisoned. The full list, showing the dates of arrest for journalists, can be viewed here. 

Mahalli’s release

Yurt newspaper columnist Hüsnü Mahalli, who was arrested in December last year on charges of insulting the president and other public officials, was released on 20 January upon the court’s acceptance of the indictment against him.

Mahalli appeared before the 6th Istanbul Court of First Instance on 20 January on charges of “insulting the president” and “insulting public officials who serve on a board on the basis of their duty.”

Can Tuncay, the prosecutor who wrote the indictment, asked for between one year and four months to seven years and four months in prison for Mahalli.

The journalist, who suffers from advanced Multiple Sclerosis, has serious health problems and was being kept at a state hospital. His lawyers had commented earlier that the prosecutors didn’t know about his health situation before ordering his arrest. Observers in Turkey speculate that unease about the potential consequences of his condition might be the reason why he was indicted and tried swiftly, a rare occurrence in Turkey where pre-trial detentions are often used as punishment against journalists according to Amnesty International and other international rights groups.

Another DİHA reporter arrested 

Abdullah Kaya, a reporter for the shuttered pro-Kurdish news agency DİHA, was put under arrest on 20 January  in his initial court appearance after two days in detention.

Kaya was detained on 18 January along with seven others on charges of “membership in a terrorist organization” in the Diyadin district of Ağrı province, located in the Eastern part of Turkey. The detention and court processes also took place in this province.
The journalist was sent to Ağrı Prison.

DİHA was shut down under a cabinet decree issued as part of Turkey’s State of Emergency rules that went into force following a coup attempt on 15 July, 2016.
More than a dozen journalists from DİHA are currently in prison. The total number of journalists in prison in Turkey is 151.

Colleagues apply to UNHRC for DİHA reporter Çelik

Evrensel has reported that some friends and colleagues of Ömer Çelik, a DİHA news editor who was arrested on Jan. 18 on charges of membership in a terrorist organization, have applied to the United Nations Human Rights Council, informing the council of rights violations that allegedly occurred during Çelik’s initial detention and subsequent arrest. The newspaper quoted unnamed UN sources confirming that they will be monitoring the case closely and have plans to contact Turkish authorities regarding Çelik’s situation.

Çelik and two other journalists were arrested for reporting on an e-mail hack involving Turkey’s Energy Minsiter Berat Albayrak.

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