Sözcü’s Mediha Olgun and Evrensel’s Yusuf Karataş released from prison, bringing number of imprisoned journalists to 170

 

The news manager responsible for Sözcü ’s internet website, Mediha Olgun, who had been imprisoned since May 19 as part of an operation into the newspaper, was released on September 22.

The investigation concerned a news report detailing the whereabouts of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on the night of July 15, 2016 when Turkey’s failed coup attempt took place. The Istanbul Chief Prosecutor’s Office launched an investigation into Sözcü’s owner Burak Akbay and several other employees.

Olgun was released following the prosecution’s request to let her go. The Istanbul 5th Criminal Judgeship of Peace ruled for her release on the grounds of her health condition, family related issues and that she has a permanent residential address. The judgeship also said the stage the investigation has reached also played a role in its decision. Olgun was released under judicial control measures — which means she will have to check in with her local police station once a month — and with an international travel ban.

Olgun was arrested in May on charges of “committing a crime on behalf of the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ), while not being a member of it.” “FETÖ” is the name used by Turkish authorities for the group allegedly behind the 15 July coup attempt.

Gökmen Ulu, the Izmir correspondent for Sözcü, still remains in prison as part of the same probe.

Evrensel writer Yusuf Karataş released from prison

Yusuf Karataş, a writer for the socialist Evrensel daily, was released on September 22. He had been in prison since July 27.

The Diyarbakır 9th High Criminal Court ruled for his release while reviewing an objection to the arrest warrant in place for the columnist, who was detained and later arrested in July as part of a “terror” investigation stemming from a police operation into the Democratic Society Congress (DTG), an umbrella network for pro-Kurdish civil society organizations.

The number of imprisoned journalists fell from 172 to 170 following releases of Olgun and Karataş. The full list can be viewed here.

Pro-government journalist detained

Ömer Turan, the founder and editor-in-chief of the openly pro-government Manşet24 website, was detained on Sept. 21 in relation with his news website’s reporting about National Intelligence Agency (MIT) Undersecretary Hakan Fidan.

Turan, a self-proclaimed “Reisçi”, or a supporter of President Eerdoğan, was released on September 22 in late evening.

The Fidan report seemed to suggest that the MIT head might have had links with the Fethullah Gülen network, a former ally of the Turkish government which was declared a public enemy after a massive corruption investigation into the government in 2013.

Journalist Oktay Candemir given prison sentence over news reports

The Van 4th High Criminal Court handed down a prison term of one year and six months to journalist Oktay Candemir, convicting him for “terror propaganda” in four news reports produced by the journalist.

The journalist will not be serving in prison, as the court has handed down the prison term as a deferred sentence unless he violates terms of deferral.

Syrian journalist and mother killed in İstanbul

The lifeless bodies of a well-known Syrian opposition activist and her journalist daughter were found inside their Usküdar apartment on September 22.

Orouba Barakat (60), a journalist, filmmaker and activist was outspokenly critical of the Syrian regime. Her daughter Halla Barakat (23) was formerly a reporter for Alikhbaria TV, a news editor for the Orient and former editor at Turkish state channel TRT world.

Friends and family have said they suspect the Bashar Assad regime might be behind the murders.

Reports said Orouba Barakat was forced to spend most of her life in exile, and moved to Istanbul after residing in the UAE.

The police are still investigating the murder. The date of the murder is not yet known.

EFJ general secretary responds to Turkish diplomat

General Secretary of the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) Ricardo Gutierrez tweeted a response on September 22 to Faruk Kaymakçı, the Turkish Ambassador to the EU, whose article claiming that none of the journalists in prison in Turkey were arrested in relation with their work was published on the EUobserver.

“Turkey’s ambassador to EU is lying. I call on @euobs to publish the list of 158 journalists jailed in #Turkey,” he tweeted. According to P24, there are currently 170 imprisoned journalists in the country. .

İnan Kızılkaya sends a message from prison

İnan Kızılkaya, the responsible managing editor for the shuttered Ozgür Gündem daily, has responded to questions from to P24 in an interview published on our website in Turkish.

The journalist faces a total of 92 ongoing trials related to publications of Ozgür Gündem, which was shut down under a cabinet decree under Turkey’s State of Emergency rules.

Kızılkaya is liable for all of the newspaper’s “violations” of the law under Turkish law, which dictates that all media outlets should appoint a “responsible” managing editor, who bears legal liability for reports bearing no byline.

The journalist is imprisoned in relation with what is called the “main Özgür Gündem” trial. All of the other cases against him have been merged with this trial being heard by the İstanbul 23rd High Criminal Court.

Kızılkaya has been indicted on “membership of a terrorist organization.”

In the interview, Kızılkaya said he was keeping up his morale but finding it hard not to be able to “walk on soil”.

Here is an up-to-date list of all journalists that are reported to be in prison:

 

Click here to view the list in a spreadsheet file; where figures on shuttered media and civil society associations are also available on separate tabs.