Six of the 10 human rights defenders detained earlier in Istanbul formally arrested by court while four let go on judicial probation terms
Ten human rights activists who were taken into police custody on July 5 in Istanbul’s Büykada island appeared before a court on July 18. The court, in a ruling issued in the early morning hours, released four of them under judicial control measures while ruled to arrest the other six on charges of aiding a terrorist organization.
Nalan Erkem and Özlem Dalkıran from the Helsinki Citizens’ Association; Ilknur Üstün from the Women’s Coalition; Amnesty International Turkey Director İdil Eser; Human Rights Agenda Association members Veli Acu and Günal Kurşun; Nejat Taştan from the Monitoring for Equal Rights Association, former Mazlum-Der activist Şeyhmus Özbekli and trainers Peter Steudtner and Ali Gahravi testified to prosecutor on July 17. The prosecutorial testimonies were completed at around 8.30 p.m.
The ten rights defenders were referred to the 10th Criminal Judgeship of Peace with the prosecutor requesting that they are put under arrest. The prosecutor’s accusations were based on phone conversations the rights defenders had with individuals who used the chat application Bylock and that they kept documents regarding hunger-striking teachers Nuriye Gülmen and Semih Özakça.
Evrensel’s Editor-in-Chief Fatih Polat, who was at the courthouse all day and night, reported that the defenders weren’t asked questions as to whether they were plotting against the government as reported by pro-government newspapers some of which have claimed that the rights activists were devising a “new Gezi.”
People’s Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Garo Paylan, who was at the courthouse to attend the arraignment of the rights activists, was removed from the courtroom.
The judgeship, which issued its decision at 6.10 am in the morning, let Özbekli, Taştan, Üstün and Erkem go under judicial control measures while it ruled that İdil Eser, Veli Acu, Günal Kurşun, Özlem Dalkıran, Peter Steudtner and Ali Gharav are put under arrest on suspicion of “helping an armed terrorist organization.”
Those released will have to check in with their local police station three days a week and they are also barred from leaving the country under judicial control measures.
Germany to support Deniz Yücel’s European court case
Germany’s Ministry of Justice announced on July 18 that the German government will support the application filed with the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) on behalf of Die Welt correspondent Deniz Yücel, a German-Turkish citizenship holder imprisoned in Turkey, by the journalist’s lawyer Veysel Ok.
Germany will intervene in the complaint filed on behalf of the journalist on the grounds that he was subjected to treatment by Turkish authorities that violated the European Convention on Human Rights.
Yücel is accused of spreading “terror propaganda” and “inciting the public to hatred and hostility.” His European court application asserts that him being kept in solitary confinement based on these accusations is a violation of the Convention’s articles that ban torture and maltreatment and that guarantee personal security and freedom of expression.
The last time when Germany was ever involved in a European court case was in 1986, when the German government submitted its opinion about German citizen Jens Söring, who was arrested in the US for murder.
Can Dündar’s Özgür Gündem trial adjourned
The trial of former Editor-in-Chief of Cumhuriyet Can Dündar and film director Veysi Altay, where the two are accused of terror-related charges for showing solidarity with the shuttered Özgür Gündem newspaper by standing in as its editor-in-chief for one day, was adjourned until Dec. 26.
The Istanbul 22nd High Criminal Court is hearing the trial. In the session heard on July 18, Altay and Dündar, who now resides abroad, did not attend, presenting a formal excuse to the court. Lawyers of the two defendants were in attendance.
Local journalist Yeliz Koray detained over column
Yeliz Koray, the responsible managing editor for the Kocaeli Koz newspaper, was taken into custody in her house on July 15 by police regarding a column she wrote criticizing the commemoration ceremonies held to mark the first anniversary of the 15 July coup attempt. The journalist was released on July 16 under judicial control measures.
The journalist was accused of “inciting the public to hatred and hostility” and “terror propaganda” in relation with her column titled “Yerim Destanınızı” (I’m not buying your “epic”) published on July 13.
The journalist, who denied the accusations during her interrogation, will be under judicial control for eight months.
Swedish journalists address Erdoğan
The editors-in-chief of the 32 newspapers published in Sweden sent an open letter on July 15 to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, demanding that journalists imprisoned in Turkey be released.
In the letter, the editors expressed grave concern about free speech and human rights in Turkey and requested the release of 177 journalists in prison. They also asked for returning the seized assets of press outlets shut down by the government.
Journalist Felat Bozarslan’s trial adjourned until November
Doğan News Agency reporter appeared before a court on July 17 in relation with a news report he made on the sexual harassment of a minor in 2015.
The journalist is accused of violating a confidentiality order on the court proceedings, at the end of which the perpetrator was given a reduction in his sentence for displaying a “respectful attitude” in the courtroom.
The trial is being heard by the Diyarbakır 2nd High Criminal Court. Bozarslan faces up to 4.5 years in prison.
The session was adjourned until Nov. 20.
Detention warrant for film director Altıoklar
A detention warrant was issued for cinema director Metin Altıoklar on July 16 over his social media posts.
The warrant was issued by the Istanbul Chief Prosecutor’s Office over tweets by Altıoklar posted on July 15, the anniversary of the coup attempt, in which he criticized the commemoration ceremonies.
Altıoklar reportedly currently resides in Germany.
For a full list of journalists imprisoned in Turkey; media outlets and associations shut down under State of Emergency, click here.