Details on accusations against six journalists who reported on energy minister’s e-mails emerge
Details of an indictment into six journalists who were detained in December last year for reporting on the hacked e-mails of Turkey’s Energy Minister Berat Albayrak have surfaced in the media.
According to a report in Evrensel, the six journalists are accused of publishing reports on Albayrak’s e-mails as part of an operation to “alter perceptions” and as such undermine the reputation of the government and confidence in its energy policies. The indictment lists social media posts of the accused journalists as evidence to back the terrorism allegations leveled against them. The journalists tried to create the perception that Albayrak is somehow tied to the ISIS, the indictment claims.
The indictment, drafted by İstanbul Chief Prosecutor Yakup Ali Kahveci, demands that the news editor of DİHA Ömer Çelik, ETHA Managing Editor Derya Okatan, DİHA reporter Metin Yoksu and Yolculuk newspaper’s owner Eray Sargın are punished for “propaganda on behalf of a terrorist organization,” and “preventing an IT system, destroying or modifying data”. The prosecutor asked for BirGün newspaper’s employee Mahir Kanaat to be punished for “membership in a terrorist organization,” and for Diken’s former editor Tunca Öğreten to be punished for “committing a crime on behalf of a terrorist organization without being its members.”
The six journalists were taken into police custody on Dec. 25, 2016 on charges of reporting on e-mails of Turkish Energy Minister Berat Albayrak which were hacked by a group that calls itself RedHack and as such being a part of a “psychological operation to form public perceptions” by RedHack. Yoksu, Okatan and Sezgin were released after 24 days in custody while Kanaat, Çelik and Öğreten were put under formal arrest.
The case of a seventh journalist, Deniz Yücel from Die Welt, who was also taken into custody initially as part of the same investigation was separated from the RedHack investigation. Yücel was arrested on Feb. 27, 2017 after he went to testify in the same investigation.
Journalist Türköne handed down prison sentence
Mümtazer Türköne, a columnist for the shuttered Zaman newspaper, was sentenced on July 4 to four years and two months in prison for "threatening President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan" in a column published on February 4, 2016.
Türköne, who has been in pre-trial detention since last August in a separate case in which he faces three aggravated life sentences on coup related charges, attended the hearing held at Bakırköy 2nd High Criminal Court from the Silivri Prison he is currently held via SEGBİS video conferencing system.
The court initially sentenced Türköne to five years in jail and then reduced it to four years and two months, taking into consideration Türköne's "stance and behaviors" during the trial process.
Journalist Mehmet Çakmakçı taken into custody
Journalist Mehmet Çakmakçı, who uses the pen-name Şiyar Dicle, was detained by police in his Diyabakır home on the morning of July 4. Initial reports have said Çakmakçı was taken to the detention center of the Counter-Terrorism Unit of the Police Department.
The reasons for detention weren’t immediately clear. The journalist works for Medyascope.tv, an internet-based television station. Earlier, he worked for various organizations including Azadi TV, Hayatın Sesi TV and DİHA, all of which have been shut down under government decrees.
New hearing in presidential insult case of journalists
Columnist Perihan Mağden, Diken’s former editor Tunca Öğreten and Yurt newspaper editors Mehmet Çağlar Tekin and Orhan Şahin appeared before a court for the sixth time on July 4 in a trial where they are accused of “insulting the president.”
Remarks about President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan by Mağden, which were published in an interview conducted by Tunca Öğreten in September were later republished by the Yurt newspaper.
In the trial, Öğreten defended his innocence saying he didn’t think Mağden’s statement constituted a crime. Mağden asked to be acquitted or a given a suspended ruling if that’s not possible.
The next hearing in the case will be held on 19 October 2017.
Özgür Gündem trial postponed to Oct. 26
On July 4, the trial of thirteen journalists who participated in a solidarity campaign for the shuttered Özgür Gündem daily by standing in for a day as the daily’s editor-in-chief took place at the 14th High Criminal Court in İstanbul.
Faruk Eren, the president of the Basın-İş press union, Evrensel columnists İhsan Çaralan Fehim Işık, journalists Ertuğrul Mavioğlu, Celal Başlangıç, Celalettin Can, Öncü Akgül, Hüseyin Aykol, Ömer Ağın, Dilşah Kocakaya, Mehmet Şirin Taşdemir, Veysel Kemer are Yüksel Oğuz on trial. None of the journalists came to the trial.
Mehmet Şirin Taşdemir, who is imprisoned in another trial, testified via the courtroom teleconferencing system SEGBİS from the Karabük Prison.
The trial was adjourned until Oct. 26, 2017 14:30.
Next hearing in journalists' "terrorism" case on July 6
The third hearing in the trial of 29 journalists including columnist Murat Aksoy and former pop-singer and Meydan columnist Atilla Taş will be held on July 6.
Those in the trial are accused of membership in the terrorist group allegedly behind the 15 July coup in Turkey.
On March 31, the İstanbul 25th High Criminal Court ruled for the release of 21. However, 13 of those released were detained as part of a new “coup investigation” before being let go of prison and the remaining eight were kept in prison when the prosecutor objected to their release.
The 13 journalists who were detained on new coup charges are: Abdullah Kılıç, Ali Akkuş, Atilla Taş, Bünyamin Köseli, Cihan Acar, Gökçe Fırat Çulhaoğlu, Hüseyin Aydın, Murat Aksoy, Mustafa Erkan Acar, Oğuz Usluer, Seyit Kılıç, Yakup Çetin and Yetkin Yıldız.
The eight journalists whose release was overruled by another court are: Ahmet Memiş, Bayram Kaya, Cemal Azmi Kalyoncu, Cuma Ulus, Habib Güler, Halil İbrahim Balta, Hanım Büşra Erdal and Muhammet Said Kuloğlu. Davut Aydın, Emre Soncan, Mutlu Çölgeçen, Ufuk Şanlı and Ünal Tanık are the remaining journalists who have been imprisoned in the trial.
Objections to detention of Sözcü journalists rejected
Judges have rejected formal objections filed to rulings to keep Sözcü newspaper’s İzmir reporter Gökmen Ulu and the publication’s website editor Mediha Olgun in detention, Sözcü reported.
Ulu and Olgun were arrested on May 19 in relation with a news report published on July 15 2016.
DİHA reporter detained in Diyarbakır
Twelve people including DİHA reporter Behçet Bayhan were taken into custody in Diyarbakır on July 1 in relation with the June fatal shooting of Justice and Development Party (AKP) Lice Branch Deputy President Orhan Mercan.
Journalist Gülseven taken into custody
On June 30, Hakan Gülseven, a board member for the Haziran Platform, and Editor-in-chief of Redaktif Hakan Gülseven was detained in Ayvalık, Balıkesir. The journalist was released on probation terms after his interrogation. Gülseven said he was facing three counts of charges such as “insulting the president and “inciting the public to armed revolt.” Gülseven said he had been issued an international travel ban.
Zehra Doğan denied art supplies
Journalist and Zehra Doğan, who is imprisoned in Diyarbakır, is being denied supplies to work on her art, reports said.
The pro-Kurdish and female only newspaper Şûjin reported that Doğan had requested art supplies, from the prison administration, which in turn said a prosecutorial permission was needed for bringing in supplies. However, the prison administration later rejected Doğan’s petition addressed to the prosecutor, saying painting and jewelry design inside the prison wouldn’t be allowed even with permission.
Doğan is serving a 2-year, nine-month and 22-day sentence in Diyarbakır prison for her reporting on the post-curfew state in Mardin’s Nusaybin district. She was imprisoned for a second time on March 2, 2017 after a court upheld her prison sentence.