Harrowing claims of torture marked journalist Türfent’s trial; former journalist and CHP MP Berberoğlu arrested in Syria weapons trial

 

Witnesses who earlier testified against journalist Nedim Türfent said their testimony was taken under torture in statements given to the Hakkari 2nd High Criminal Court on June 14.

Türfent, who published reports on alleged rights violations that occurred under a curfew announced in Yüksekova, a district of the predominantly Kurdish province Hakkari, for the security forces to conduct operations in the area, was indicted on the basis of testimony from various people. 

Of the thirteen witnesses who testified in the first hearing, all but one said their initial statements had been extracted under torture. Türfent himself also stated that he had been subject to physical abuse.

Türfent, who is being held at Van High Security Prison, wasn’t brought to the Hakkari courthouse. He attended via the SEGBIS judicial teleconferencing system. “I am a journalist, I carried out my duties as a journalist. Journalism is not a crime,” he said in his statement.

A large number of local and international organizations attended the trial as monitors.

The journalist also said he was subject to maltreatment while being taken into custody. “A security officer took a selfie while stepping on my head. Police officers wearing masks hit me with rifle butts. The torture I have endured has been established in medical reports. I had filed a criminal complaint and I would like to repeat it here.”

He reiterated that reporting the news is his job.

The witnesses who spoke in trial recited harrowing accounts of torture. “I signed my testimony while my head was being hit against a table. I have no idea what was in it,” one said. Another one said that two of his teeth were extracted with a pair of pliers. Others recounted similar experiences.

In spite of the witness statements, the prosecution demanded that Türfent remain under arrest. The judges ruled in accordance with the prosecution’s request.

Enis Berberoğlu arrested in MİT Trucks case

Journalist, writer and opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Enis Berberoğlu was arrested on June 14 after a court handed down a 25-year prison sentence  to him in a trial regarding news reports published in the Cumhuriyet daily, suggesting that trucks operated by the National Intelligence Agency (MİT) transferred weapons to armed jihadists in Syria.

Berberoğlu was convicted on charges of “political and military espionage” and “aiding and abetting the Fethullahist Terror Organization (FETÖ)” in the trial where Cumhuriyet journalists Erdem Gül and Can Dündar are also listed as defendants.

The court, which separated the Gül and Dündar’s case from that of Berberoğlu, ruled that Berberoğlu had “disclosed confidential state documents for purposes of political and military espionage.”

Berberoğlu and Gül were present in the courtroom, while Dündar, who fled to Germany, wasn’t in attendance.

While he was being arrested by police Berberoğlu said: “This is the illicit justice of the New Turkey. This is what happens when those who are in bed with FETÖ become judges.”

The CHP’s parliamentary group convened in an extraordinary meeting following Berberoğlu’s arrest.

Engin Altay, a deputy head of the CHP’s parliamentary group, said in a statement he made before the courthouse that the ruling sought to intimidate anyone who is disturbed by the policies of the Justice and Development Party (AKP). “But it shouldn’t be forgotten that neither the CHP nor others who are against the dictator will allow this country to turn into the dictator’s backyard. We will do what needs to be done. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will be tried as a war criminal based on the same file which was used in this trial.”

Former editor-in-chief of Cumhruiyet Can Dündar tweeted: “This ruling was not made in the name of the Turkish nation, but of the AKP state.” Dündar referred to the court’s decision as a “ruling of shame.”

Oğuz Güven released, Zehra Doğan arrested

On June 14, the chief editor of Cumhuriyet’s internet edition Oğuz Güven, who had been in prison for 30 days, was released from prison.

Güven was arrested on charges of “propaganda for a terrorist organization” and “defaming the memory of a dead person” after the authorities complained about the headline used for a news report about the death of a prosecutor who was investigating a coup-attempt related trial.

On June 12, Zehra Doğan, an editor for the shuttered Jin News Agency (JINHA) was arrested. She was held by police in Mardin and later arrested and sent to Diyarbakır Prison to serve a prison sentence of two years, 11 months and 22 days, which was recently upheld by a higher court.

Doğan was initially charged with and convicted for “terrorist propaganda” over her news reports and social media tweets concerning alleged rights violations committed by Turkish security forces during curfews in the Nusaybin district of Mardin.

ECtHR sets deadline for gov’t to respond in journalist cases

On June 14, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) said it had started reviewing applications from journalists Ahmet Altan, Mehmet Altan, Şahin Alpay, Atilla Taş, Murat Aksoy, Nazlı Ilıcak and Ali Bulaç. According to tweets from the journalists’ lawyers, the Court sent questions to the Turkish government about the cases of the journalists, demanding a response to be given by October 4.

 

For a full list of journalists or press workers in Turkish prisons serving a conviction or awaiting trial under arrest click here.