On May 22, former editor-in-chief of the shuttered Nokta magazine, Cevheri Güven, and its responsible managing editor Murat Çapan were each sentenced to 22 years and six months in prison for “inciting an armed rebellion against the Government of the Republic of Turkey” in connection with two covers of the magazine published in the autumn of 2015.
The Istanbul 14th High Criminal Court acquitted Güven and Çapan of another charge -- “terror propaganda.” The court also ruled to issue an arrest warrant for the two journalists, who were earlier released pending trial in this case but are wanted in connection with other ones. The charges against Güven and Çapan stem from two controversial covers of Nokta published in September and November 2015; one featuring a doctored photo of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan taking a selfie at a soldier’s funeral, and another predicting a possible civil war in Turkey.
Court upholds prison sentences in Özgür Gündem case
An appeal court upheld on May 22 two separate verdicts sentencing journalist Kumru Başer and pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Çilem Küçükkeleş each to 15 months in prison for their role in a solidarity campaign with the pro-Kurdish Özgür Gündem daily.
Başer and Küçükkeleş were separately convicted for “terror propaganda” for columns and reports that were published on the days that they symbolically edited Özgür Gündem, which was subsequently closed down with an emergency decree.
A prison sentence handed down to writer Yıldırım Türker for his role in the solidarity campaign has been upheld earlier.
Fifth hearing in insult case against journalists
The fifth hearing of a case in which writer Perihan Mağden, former Diken news portal editor Tunca Öğreten and Yurt daily editors Mehmet Çağlar Tekin and Orhan Şahin face up to more than 4 years in jail for “insulting the president” was held on May 23 at the Istanbul 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance.
The charges against the four journalists stem from a news report including comments from Mağden, a former columnist of the shuttered Nokta magazine, about a police raid on the magazine in September 2015. The report first appeared on Diken and was re-printed by Yurt daily.
The next hearing of the case is due to be held on a July 4.
Journalist Serhat Yaruk released
Journalist Serhat Yaruk, who was arrested in a series of police raids in the eastern province of Van on May 11, was released on judicial control after testifying before a court on May 23.
The same court ruled that eight other people arrested along with Yaruk, including Van provincial co-leader of the pro-Kurdish Democratic Regions Party (DBP), Ahmet Aygün, be jailed pending trial.
Sendika.org reporter detained
Mert Arslan, a reporter for sendika.org website, was arrested on May 22 as he was covering a demonstration in Ankara’s Yüksel Street held in support of academic Nuriye Gülmen and teacher Semih Özakça, who were arrested in a police raid earlier this week. Özakça and Gülmen have been on a hunger strike for more than two months to protest their dismissals from their jobs with an emergency decree.
Journalist Candan Yıldız arrested
Journalist Candan Yıldız was arrested on May 20 along with six other people during a demonstration in Istanbul in support of Nuriye Gülmen and Semih Özakça, who have been sacked with an emergency decree and arrested this week while on a hunger strike to protest their dismissals. Yıldız and others were released on May 21, after testifying to a prosecutor.
Sözcü publishes blank issue to protest arrests
Opposition Sözcü daily published on May 20 a blank issue that it called “May 19 Press Freedom Special Edition” to protest arrest warrants issued for its owner and three staff members on May 19.
Arrest warrants were issued for owner Burak Akbay, responsible manager of the newspaper’s website Mediha Olgun, financial affairs manager Yonca Kaleli and Izmir correspondent Gökmen Ulu. Olgun and Ulu were arrested on May 19 while Akbay was not found in his residence because he was abroad.
The four are reportedly accused of “committing crimes on behalf of the Fetullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ),” as well as assisting attempts to “assassinate and physically attack the president” and “armed rebellion against the Government of the Republic of Turkey.”
For a full list of journalists or press workers in Turkish prisons serving a conviction or awaiting trial under arrest click here.