Constitutional Court likely to announce a ruling that will set a legal precedent for imprisoned journalists

 

The Constitutional Court might issue its first ruling that will serve as an example ruling for national courts before the end of October, according to recent reports.

A news report published in the Cumhuriyet newspaper on October 4 suggested that the Constitutional court will issue a ruling that will set a precedent for all the imprisoned journalists before the end of this month.

Cumhuriyet’s report quoted unnamed sources from the court, who said that the ruling — which will be made on a single case — will set precedent laying out the constitutional principles in the imprisonment of journalists on trial.

ECtHR gives Turkey more time

The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has given the Turkish government three more weeks to send a response to the court in the cases of Ahmet and Mehmet Altan, who have been imprisoned for over a year.

The Court first sought a statement from Turkey by October 4. The government had asked for extra six weeks, but the Court extended the deadline for a response only until October 25.

The government said it was still reviewing the case files, which were too many in number.

Cumhuriyet also reported the ECtHR had given additional time to the Turkish government to respond to the Court in the case of ten of the newspaper’s journalists who were detained on October 31, 2016.

The Court had previously given time until October 2 to the Turkish government to respond. Turkey has asked for six more weeks. 

DİHA reporter released from prison

Mehmet Sıddık Damar, a reporter with the shuttered Dicle News Agency (DİHA) who was imprisoned over his social media posts, was released on October 6 at the end of his first court appearance. However, he was also given a two years and six moths prison sentence on charges of “terrorism propaganda”

Damar was arrested on August 18 for his tweets that were deemed to be spreading “propaganda on behalf of a terrorist organization.”

In his defense statement to the Mardin 2nd High Criminal Court, the reporter said all his activities were journalism related. Concluding the hearing, the court ruled for his release, yet still handed down a deferred sentence of two and a half years.

The complete list of journalists currently imprisoned in Turkey can be found here. Currently, at least 169 are in prison following Damar’s release.

MİT trucks trial adjourned until December

The first hearing in a new trial on reports where photographs featuring weapons-laden trucks allegedly owned by the National Intelligence Agency (MIT) enroute to Syria was heard on October 4.

The trial is based on two cases which were previously separate but recently merged. Journalists Can Dündar, Erdem Gül and Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Enis Berberoğlu stand accused of “aiding a terrorist organization.”

The case concerns photographs of trucks allegedly operated by MIT, which were printed in Cumhuriyet and Aydınlık newspapers.

The hearing took place at the İstanbul 14th High Criminal Court and it was held as a closed hearing, with spectators and press members not being allowed inside the courtroom.

CHP deputy Berberoğlu, who is imprisoned at Maltepe Prison, Cumhuriyet Ankara Bureau Chief Erdem Gül and Aydınlık newspaper’s Editor-in-Chief Mustafa İlker Yücel and the newspaper’s former investigations editor Orhan Ceyhun Bozkurt attended the hearing.

Lawyers representing Berberoğlu requested a change of judges. The panel of judges decided to send the case files to a higher court to make a decision on the request. The trial was adjourned until December 20.

Indictment into Sözcü

The Press Crimes Investigations Bureau of the İstanbul Chief Prosecutor’s Office has completed an indictment into Burak Akbay, the owner of the Sözcü newspaper; Mediha Olgun, the internet editor of Sözcü; reporter Gökmen Ulu and the newspaper’s finance manager Yonca Yücekaleli.

Akbay is accused of “running an armed terrorist organization,” and “terror propaganda” while the others are accused of “knowingly and deliberately helping a terrorist organization without not being a part of the hierarchical structure within the armed terrorist organization.”

The 73-page indictment claims that the Sözcü newspaper seems to be against the Fethullah Gülen network — called the FETÖ/PDY terror organization officially — on the outside, yet its publications serve the same purpose held by this group.

Minister Albayrak seeks intervention in leaks case

Berat Albayrak, the Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, has sought to intervene in the trial of six journalists — three of whom are imprisoned — who are on trial for reporting on Albayrak’s emails that were hacked last year by a group that calls itself RedHack.

The first hearing in the trial will be heard on October 24. Dicle News Agency (DİHA) news manager Ömer Çelik, former Diken editor Tunca Öğreten and BirGün newspaper employee Mahir Kanaat were imprisoned on charges of “membership in a terrorist organization” in the probe, where six journalists stand accused.

Albayrak petitioned the 29th High Criminal Court to intervene in the case. He also happens to be the son-in-law of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Journalist beaten in prison

Dihaber reporter Erdoğan Alayumat, who was initially detained on “reasonable doubt” and later arrested in Gaziantep province, was beaten by prison guards at Tarsus Prison, reports claimed.

Tugay Bek, a lawyer representing Alayumat, said Alayumat and others in his ward were physically attacked, dragged on the floor and placed in solitary confinement without clothes for refusing to line up for a roll call.

Bek said his client had partial hearing loss in his left year following the physical abuse he endured, yet he and the other inmates in his condition were barred from visiting the prison infirmary.

 

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.