155 journalists were in prison in Turkey as of March 10; which marked the 234th day of State of Emergency rule in the country.
Several detentions and trials of journalists took place in the country in the week of March 6.
Nedim Oruç, a reporter of the shuttered Dicle News Agency (DİHA), who was imprisoned for five months in 2016, on various charges was acquitted on March 8. Oruç was kept under arrest between January to June 2016 was accused of “spreading propaganda for a terrorist organization,” “committing a crime for a terror group without being its members” and “not informing the authorities of a crime.”
Eight Azadiya Welat journalists and distributors who were detained on March 4, were released from custody on March 8. It has emerged that the journalists were detained in relation with an investigation launched on Sept. 28, 2015, during a raid of the newspaper’s office. Only six of the eight who were detained are known to the public: Ramazan Ölçen (who holds the newspaper’s copyrights), Hacı Yusuf Topaloğlu, Sadık Aras, Mehmet Emin Kaya, Serdar Kale and Seydoş Dayan.
On March 9, ANF reporter Sedat Sur, who had been detained a day earlier at an İzmir airport, was released from custody. Sur tweeted that his detention had occurred in relation with a trial from the year 2009.
Journalists detained on charges of using “coup app”
Mustafa Ayar, an editor and anchor for the television station 24 TV — owned by businessman Ethem Sancak, a close friend and ally of President Recep Tayip Erdoğan — was detained on March 9 under suspicion of having used a communications software called ByLock, which judicial authorities claim was used by those who orchestrated the coup attempt of July 15.
İlhan Toprak, a reporter for the state-owned and staunchly pro-government Anatolia, was detained on March 7, also on charges of being a ByLock application user.
Trial against slain journalist
On march 7, the Diyarbakır Prosecutor’s Office launched criminal proceedings against Azadiya Welat journalist Rohat Aktaş, who was reported to have been killed in during a curfew in the southeastern town of Cizre during security forces’ operation in the area. The prosecutor asked for up to seven years on terrorism-related charges for the journalist.
Aktaş was killed, allegedly, along with many other civilians, who were hiding in a residential basement where they had taken refuge from the shelling in February 2016. He was in Cizre to report on the operations in the area.
Prosecutors want 13 years for Hasan Cemal
P24’s Founding President Hasan Cemal, who is also a writer for the internet news site T24, appeared before a court on March 9 over a series of articles published four years earlier. The prosecutor has asked for up to 13 years for Cemal on various terrorism charges.
The prosecutor has asked for an additional punishment of barring Cemal from exercising his public rights under a Turkish Criminal Code article.
ECtHR applications from imprisoned journalists
The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), which earlier said it would review an applications by imprisoned journalists Ahmet Altan, Mehmet Altan, Murat Aksoy and Nazlı Ilıcak announced that it will treat the case of imprisoned journalist Şahin Alpay “as a matter of priority.” Alpay was imprisoned in July, shortly after the coup attempt.
On March 6, the Cumhuriyet daily announced that its lawyers had taken the case of its nine journalists and executives in prison — who have been under arrest since November last year — to the European Court.
Ahmet Altan testifies in insult case
Journalist and novelist Ahmet Altan, who has been in prison since Sept. 23, 2016, was tried on charges of insulting the members of the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) in an article published in 2010. His trial was adjourned until April 13.
Atılım journalists tried
A trial in which journalists from the Atılım newspaper are being tried for terror related charges had another session on March 7. The newspaper’s former managing editor, Mehmet Ali Genç, testified in the courtroom through the SEGBİS video-conferencing system.
The court heard Genç’s defense testimony and then ruled to merge the cases against other Atılım journalists Arzu Demir, Vahap Biçici with that of Genç’s trial.
Özgür Gündem trial
On March 9, journalists Özgür Gündem Faruk Balıkçı, Dicle Anter, Derya Okatan, Kumru Başer and Ayşe Batumlu — who stood in as the editor in chief of the now-shuttered daily for a day to show solidarity with it — were on trial for “spreading terror propaganda.”
Balıkçı was fined TL 6,000, Anter and Okatan TL 7,000 each and Başer and Batumlu were given 15 years in prison.
Letter writing campaign for journalists
Activists and journalism organizations have launched a campaign to send letters to those journalists who are being held in isolation in Silivri Prison No:9 and who stand accused of “spreading terrorist propaganda despite not being member of a terrorist group.” The campaign seeks to show support for the imprisoned journalists and also to speak out against a general ban on letter correspondence in place for the journalists being kept at Silivri No: 9.
Critical media denied press accreditation in İzmir
On March 8, Evrensel reported that journalists from critical press outlets who applied to be accredited to follow a visit by Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım were rejected.
The outlets whose journalists were denied accreditation include Sözcü, Dünya, İHA, Ticaret, Sky Tv and Ulusal Kanal.