Five journalists detained and former TRT cameraman arrested while 2 journalists released from prison

 

Police took five journalists working for the Kurdish Jin News and Mesopotamia agencies into custody on  October 20.

Those detained were Jin News editor Sibel Yükler, Jin News reporters Duygu Erol ile Habibe Eren and Mezopotamya Agency reporters Diren Yurtsever and Selman Güzelyüz. Yükler, Yurtsever and Güzelyüz were released after their statements were taken by the police on October 21. Eren and Erol, on the other hand, have reportedly been referred to the prosecutor’s office.

Both agencies had started in late September, as a continuation of other news agencies shut down under Turkey’s state of emergency.

The Office of the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media expressed “deep concern” about the detentions, tweeting “Info on detention of @Jin__news journalists today is a major concern. Work of journalists & media pluralism must be protected in #Turkey.”

TRT cameraperson Binali Erdoğan jailed pending trial

Binali Erdoğan, who was fired from the Turkish Radio and Television (TRT) network where he worked as a cameraperson for insulting the president on social media was imprisoned pending trial on October 20. Erdoğan is also an active member and executive of the Haber Sen journalists’ union.

An investigation into Erdoğan had been launched after allegations that he insulted Turkey’s president, which resulted in his being fired from TRT and barred from public service.

On October 20, he testified first to a prosecutor in Izmir and then to a court, which said Erdoğan’s social media posts crossed the boundaries of freedom of expression and ruled for his arrest on the grounds that not all evidence against the suspect had been collected and that he ran the risk of obscuring evidence if let go.

Murat Çelikkan released on parole

Journalist Murat Çelikkan, who was jailed in August after being convicted on terror-related charges for his participation in a solidarity campaign with the Özgür Gündem newspaper, was released from prison under parole conditions on October 21.

He was being kept at Kırklareli Prison.

Journalist Mehmet Çakmakçı released

Journalist Mehmet Çakmakçı, who was arrested on July 12 in Diyarbakır was released at the end of his first court appearance on October 18.

Çakmakçı, a local Diyarbakır journalist who worked for Medyascopetv faces charges of membership in a terrorist organization and up to 15 years in prison.

The Diyarbakır 10th Criminal Court ruled for his release, although the prosecutor had asked to keep him in pre-trial detention.

With the imprisonment of Binali Erdoğan and release of Çelikkan and Çakmakçı, the number of journalists in prison is now 155. The full list can be reached here.

ETHA reporters detained 

On October 19, 16 people including two journalists from the Etkin News Agency (ETHA) were detained in dawn raids around Istanbul as part of an operation into the organization’s “Marxist Leninist Communicst Party (MLKP)” and “Communist Party of Turkey/Marxist-Leninist (TKP/ML).”

The journalists in custody were Isminaz Temel and Havva Cuştan, ETHA said.

Tuğrul Eryılmaz convicted in Ozgür Gündem trial

Journalist Tuğrul Eryılmaz was sentenced to one year and three months prison and a TL 6000 fine for standing-in as the editor-in-chief of the Ozgür Gündem newspaper, which was shut down after State of Emergency. The hearing was heard on October 20.

Eryılmaz and some 50 others had stood in as an editor-in-chief for a day as part of a solidarity campaign for the newspaper, organized before its closure.

Eryılmaz was given a deferral, so he will not serve time in prison. “I am here at the end of a symbolic  show of solidarity.”

Businessman Osman Kavala detained 

On October 18, head of the Anadolu Kültür Inc. Osman Kavala was detained at the İstanbul Atatürk Airport as part of a secret investigation.

The businessman is known for his active role as a civil society leader. His and his secretary’s computers were seized during a raid on Anadolu Kültür.

A confidentiality order has been imposed on the investigation, which is why the reason for his detention remains unclear.

Kavala had just returned to Istanbul from Gaziantep province, where he had had a meeting with representatives of the Goethe Institute for a planned civil society project.

Former Zaman journalist convicted

Mehmet Kuru was given six years and three months in prison by an Eskişehir court in a session heard on October 17.

Kuru was being tried on terror charges for having worked at the shuttered Zaman daily, but he was not imprisoned. In his defense statement, he said: “Zaman was where I won my bread. I am not the member of a terrorist organization.”

Muiznieks intervened in ECtHR journalist cases

Nils Muiznieks, the Council of Europe’s human rights commissioner has officially intervened in the European Court cases of 10 imprisoned journalists in Turkey.

On October 19, the commissioner submitted his opinion to the Court, saying Turkey has violated the European Convention on Human Rights through its practices of detention of journalists and stated that the overall crackdown aims to silence all dissenting voices in the country.

In a related development, the European Court will treat the case of two journalists who are imprisoned for reporting on hacked emails of a minister as a priority case. Yaman Akdeniz, a lawyer for the applicants Tunca Öğreten and Mahir Kanaat , announced the news on his twitter account.

889 press cards canceled in 2016

On October 15 Justice Minister Abdülhamit Gül stated that the number of press cards canceled in 2016 was 889, in  a formal response to a parliamentary inquiry filed by Republican People’s Party (CHP) Deputy Ömer Fethi Gürer.

Gül also said the press cards were not canceled because of the holders’ “journalistic activities, but rather “membership in a terror organization” or “attempting to overthrow the government.”

Journalists to appear before court for first time in e-mail leak case

Six journalists, three of whom have been imprisoned since late December, will have their first day in court on October 24.

Former Diken news portal editor Tunca Öğreten, news editor of the shuttered DİHA news agency Ömer Çelik and BirGün employee Mahir Kanaat, DİHA reporter Metin Yoksu, ETHA news agency Responsible Managing Editor Derya Okatan and Yolculuk daily publisher Eray Sargın were first arrested on December 25 in police raids in an investigation into  into publication of leaked e-mails of Berat Albayrak, Turkey’s energy minister. After a record 24 days in police custody, a criminal judgeship of peace ordered Çelik, Tunca and Kanaat jailed pending trial while releasing Okatan, Sargın and Yoksu, with a travel ban.

The journalists face terrorism relared charges as well as the charge of “disrupting or preventing an IT system, amending or destroying data.”

Journalist Murat Aksoy: I want justice 

In a letter from prison days before his next court hearing, journalist Murat Aksoy said he wants justice, after more than 400 days in jail.

Aksoy, along with 28 other defendants, will appear before a court on October 24 on the fourth hearing of a case where he faces terrorism and coup charges. Almost all of the defendants in the case are journalists from a variety of media outlets, some of which were closed down under the state of emergency. The defendants, in addition to Aksoy, include former Meydan columnist and ex-singer Atilla Taş and Türk Solu journal writer Gökçe Fırat Çulhaoğlu.

“I have never spread propaganda for a terrorist organization, never joined a terrorist group, never participated in the coup attempt and never used violence. I have only written and spoken. I am a journalist,” Aksoy wrote in the letter, published in Evrensel daily on October 21. “And I now want freedom. I now want justice,” he said.

Human rights activists to appear in court on October 25 

The ten human rights activists who were detained at a meeting on Istanbul’s Büykada island in July will appear before a court for the first time on October 25.

Eight of the human rights defenders are still imprisoned. They will be tried along with Taner Kılıç, head of Amnesty International TUrkey, who was detained earlier in another investigation.

The hearing will begin at 10 am at the Çağlayan Courthouse. The Istanbul 35th High Criminal Court will hear the trial, but the session will take place in the courtroom for the İstanbul 14th High Criminal Court.

The rights activists face up to 10 years in jail on charges of “helping an armed organization” while Kılıç faces up to 15 years for “membership in the FETÖ terrorist organization.”

Idil Eser, the Director of Amnesty Turkey; İlknur Üstün from the  Women’s Coalition; Günal Kurşun from the Human Rights Agenda Association;Nalan Erkem from Citizens’ Assembly; Özlem Dalkıran, also from Citizens’ Assembly; Veli Acu, from Human Rights Agenda Association; Şeyhmus Özbekli, lawyer Nejat Taştan; Association for Monitoring Equal Rights digital strategy consultant Ali Gharavi; and trainer and writer Peter Steudtner were detained on July 5.  Taştan and Özbekli were later released on probation.

Journalist-writer Vedat Çetin detained

Journalist and writer Vedat Çetin was detained on October 19 during a raid on his Diyarbakır home as part of an investigation into the Democratic Society Congress (DTK), an umbrella organization of Kurdish civil society organizations.

He was released the next day under judicial control measures. He was charged with “membership in a terrorist organization.”

Prosecutor seeks 12 years for Oğuz Güven

On October 17, a prosecutor asked for Oğuz Güven, the editor of Cumhuriyet’s internet edition, to be imrpsioned for up to 12 years and nine months for “conducting propaganda for terror organizations,” and for “publishing statements by terror organizations” during a court session heard by the Istanbul 28th High Criminal Court.

The trial concerns the publication of a news report about a prosecutor who died in a car crash. Güven was arrested and remained imprisoned for three months after the headline “Prosecutor scythed by truck,” used when reporting the news of the prosecutor’s death, was found disturbing by the authorities.

The trial was adjourned until November 21.

11 months for Çağrı Sarı 

Çağrı Sarı, a “responsible managing editor”  — a post that assumes legal liability for news reports that appear in publications under Turkish press laws — was given 11 months and 20 days in prison. The sentence was deferred.

Sarı was convicted in relation with a reader’s letter published in Evrensel on Jan. 30, 2017 calling for no votes in the April 16 referendum.

 

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.