35 journalists in Istanbul sought by police on the grounds that they used chat software used by the group allegedly behind the coup attempt

The Istanbul Chief Prosecutor’s Office on August 10 issued detention warrants for 35 journalists who allegedly used ByLock, a messaging application used by the Fethullah Gülen network, which Turkish authorities claim was behind last year’s coup attempt.

The 35 journalists are being sought on charges of “membership in a terrorist,” organization, the state-owned Anatolian News Agency said. The agency also reported that the warrants had been issued as part of a probe into the “media arm of the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ).”

Nine of the 35 journalists were taken into police custody in the morning of August 10. Those who were detained are BirGün newspaper’s internet editor Burak Ekici, shuttered Zaman daily’s and Cihan News Agency reporter Muhsin Pilgir, İhlas news agency investigations chief editor Ömer Faruk Aydemir, Cüneyt Seza Özkan who worked as a news editor at the shuttered Samanyolu Haber news station, former Türkiye newspaper columnist Ahmet Sağılrı, Yusuf Duran, Ahmet Feyzullah Özyurt, Sait Gürkan Tuzlu and Mutlu Özay.

In a statement about the police operation, BirGün newspaper said Ekici, editor of www.birgun.net who was detained for using ByLock, had started work at the newspaper a year ago. It also said that the operation didn’t specifically target the newspaper. Stating that lawyers of the newspaper were closely monitoring the process, the newspaper said: “We expect that allegations into Ekici are made clear to us and the investigation is completed as soon as possible.”

On July 21, warrants to capture 34 former employees of several media outlets shut down under Cabinet Decrees were issued for using ByLock. However, no names were provided in any of the related reports.  Two days prior to those warrants, on July 19, eight former employees of the Turkish Radio and Television (TRT) network were detained on ByLock allegations, but their identities were also withheld by authorities.

International organizations call on Spain to release journalist Yalçın

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), International Press Institute (IPI) and the International Federation of Journalists and European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) have issued calls to Spanish authorities, demanding that Turkish journalist Hamza Yalçın, who also holds a Swedish passport, be released.

Yalçın was arrested in Spain on August 4 on the grounds that an Interpol red notice was issued for him by Turkey. Reports have said the charges stem from one or more articles he wrote for the left-wing Odak magazine.

In its statement, the IPI stated” Interpol and governments around the world are on notice that blindly honouring these warrants makes them complicit” in human rights violations occurring in Turkey.

Spanish authorities should immediately and unconditionally release Hamza Yalçın,” the CPJ said, warning that “Deporting Yalçın would set a terrible precedent for those Turkish journalists who have escaped Turkey for the relative freedom of the European Union.””

IFJ and EFJ’s statement condemned Yalçın’s arrest and called on authorities not to extradite him to Turkey.

Columnists Nuray Mert and Akif Beki fired 

Cumhuriyet columnist Nuray Mert and Hürriyet columnist Akif Beki were fired on August 9.

Mert’s firing came after a debate over her recent pieces regarding the removal of the evolution theory from the curriculum and a draft law that will give muftis the right to wed.

Orhan Erinç, chairman of the Cumhuriyet Foundation Board of Directors, argued that Mert’s recents columns were in violation of  the daily’s editorial principles, adding that the decision “has been made with the approval of Cumhuriyet executives currently in Silivri prison.”

It has been argued that the reason for Beki’s firing was his recent critical pieces about the ruling AKP.

Shut down TV stations unable to apply to the State of Emergency Commission

IMC TV, Hayatın Sesi ve TV 10, which were shut down with government decrees following the failed coup attempt, will not be able to apply to the commission set up to decide on the rights applications regarding the decrees.

According to Dihaber, the names of television channels have not been included in a preliminary application form published on the Internet by the commission. Hence, those TV stations will not be able to apply to the commission for the reversal of the decisions to shut them down.

Lists of all journalists in prison and the media institutions, associations and foundations closed down under the State of Emergency can be viewed here.