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20 May

Journalists in State of Emergency - 141

Azadiya Welat editor handed down prison sentence for “propaganda”; indictment seeks 10.5 years in prison for Sibel Hürtaş and Hayri Demir



A court in Diyarbakır on May 17 convicted Aydın Atar, the former responsible managing editor for the shuttered Kurdish-language daily Azadiya Welat, for “conducting propaganda for a terrorist organization.”


Atar was indicted for “conducting propaganda for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party [PKK]” in a number of news stories published in nine different issues of the newspaper between 2012 and 2013.


Atar was represented by his lawyer Resul Tamur during the May 17 hearing at the 7th High Criminal Court of Diyarbakır.


The prosecutor submitted his final opinion during the hearing, seeking Atar’s imprisonment on grounds that he held responsibility in the publication of the indicted news stories, regardless of the fact that Atar did not write the articles.


In response to the prosecutor’s final opinion, Tamur told the court that the case was based on the language the newspaper was published in, as well as the paper’s editorial policy. Adding that the indicted articles should be regarded as part of freedom of expression, Tamur requested Atar’s acquittal.


The court then announced its verdict, finding Atar guilty of the “propaganda” charge. The court initially handed down Atar a prison term of 7 years and 7 months. It then reduced his sentence by ⅙, to 6 years and 4 months.


Atar’s lawyer said he would appeal the verdict.


The trial was the result of the merging of three separate indictments against Atar on the same charge, filed on different dates at three separate courts. Atar was handed down a prison sentence of 10 years and 3 months in the initial trial in 2013. That verdict was reversed by the Supreme Court of Appeals on procedural grounds, and the case file was sent to the trial court for retrial.


Cumhuriyet reporter Coşkun to appear in court

Cumhuriyet reporter Canan Coşkun will be standing trial for her news article “Nuriye ve Semih’in 14 avukatı tutuklandı” (“14 lawyers representing Nuriye and Semih arrested”), published on September 20, 2017.


The indictment against Coşkun accuses the reporter of pointing the prosecutor in the case as a target because the prosecutor’s name was cited in Coşkun’s news story.


Coşkun will appear before the 26th High Criminal Court of Istanbul on June 6 for the first hearing of the case.


Özgürlükçü Demokrasi editor briefly detained


Gülşen Koçuk, a former editor for the pro-Kurdish Özgürlükçü Demokrasi newspaper, was taken into custody on May 17 in Darıca, a district of the Kocaeli province.


Koçuk was arrested as part of the ongoing investigation into the Özgürlükçü Demokrasi newspaper, which was raided by the police in late March and is currently run by a government-appointed trustee. Koçuk was brought to the Darıca Courthouse, where she gave her statement to the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor via the video-conferencing system SEGBİS. She was released from custody the same day following her statement.


Five other editors of the newspaper and its publisher İhsan Yaşar are currently in detention on remand as part of the investigation into Özgürlükçü Demokrasi.


“Incitement” case against Nurcan Baysal under way


Journalist and columnist Nurcan Baysal is accused of “inciting the public to hatred and animosity” in a new case against her, which got under way on May 17 in Diyarbakır.


P24 monitored the hearing at Diyarbakır’s 7th Criminal Court of First Instance, where Baysal was not present but was represented by her lawyer Reyhan Yalçındağ.





The lawyer requested for the hearing to be postponed due to Baysal being abroad. The court adjourned the trial until October 16.


Baysal faces up to 3 years in prison in the indictment, issued in April by the Diyarbakır Chief Public Prosecutor.


Baysal was arrested on January 22 on account of her social media posts concerning Turkey’s military operation on Syria’s Afrin. She was released from custody on January 24.



Mağden and Öğreten’s trial adjourned


The latest hearing in a case where journalists Perihan Mağden, Tunca Öğreten, Orhan Şahin and Mehmet Çağlar Tekin stand accused of “insulting the president” was held on May 17 at the Istanbul 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance.


Öğreten and Tekin attended the ninth hearing, monitored by P24. Mağden and Şahin were not present, and were instead represented by their lawyers.


The charges stem from an interview with Mağden, posted on September 14, 2015, on the news portal Diken.


Tekin is on trial for posting the same interview on the website of the Yurt newspaper. Addressing the court during the hearing, Tekin rejected the accusations. Asserting that he was not the responsible managing editor of Yurt newspaper at the time of the interview’s publishing, Tekin reiterated his previous defence statement.


Speaking after Tekin, Öğreten requested for additional time for his defence.


Issuing an interim ruling at the end of the hearing, the court adjourned the trial until October 18, 2018.



Arrest warrant issued for journalist Mücahit Avras


An arrest warrant has been issued for Artı TV journalist Mücahit Avras as part of an investigation into the journalist on account of news stories he had written and his social media posts.


Police on May 15 raided the journalist’s family home in Istanbul’s Pendik on grounds of the arrest warrant. Avras was not at home during the raid, news reports said.


Avras is accused of “conducting propaganda for a terrorist organization” in the investigation file, for which the journalist is expected to give his statement. Details as to which news stories or social media posts by Avras were subject to investigation have not been disclosed.



Sibel Hürtaş and Hayri Demir face up to 10.5 years in prison


Artı TV Ankara bureau chief Sibel Hürtaş and Mezopotamya news agency (MA) reporter Hayri Demir are facing “inciting the public to hatred and animosity” and “propaganda” charges in a new indictment against the journalists.


The indictment, issued by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, seeks up to 10.5 years imprisonment for each: up to 3 years on the charge of “inciting the public to hatred and animosity” and additionally up to 7.5 years on “conducting propaganda for a terrorist organization through publication.”


The charges stem from the journalists’ news reports and social media posts concerning Turkey’s military operation on Syria’s Afrin.


Excerpts from remarks made by the politicians Osman Baydemir and Ahmet Faruk Ünsal during interviews they gave to Hürtaş are held as evidence against the journalist.


Both Hürtaş and Demir were taken into custody in late January on account of their social media posts and released four days later under judicial control measures.



Demokratik Modernite employee Azak taken into custody


Yüksel Azak, an employee for the Demokratik Modernite magazine, was taken into custody on May 14 in Bingöl. Azak was detained on grounds of a complaint. Sent to the courthouse following the procedures at the Police Department, Azak and four others arrested in the same police operation were referred to a Criminal Judgeship of Peace. The court ruled for the release of all five, including Azak, on May 15.



Cihan News Agency editor convicted of terrorism-related charge


An Ankara court on May 10 convicted Kazım Canlan, former news director for the Ankara bureau of the shuttered Cihan news agency, of “membership in a terrorist organization” for having ties with the Fethullah Gülen network, which the government accuses of being behind the 2016 coup attempt.


Canlan gave his final defense statement before the 26th High Criminal Court of Ankara from the Tarsus Prison, where he was in pretrial detention, via the courtroom video-conferencing system SEGBİS during the May 10 hearing.


Rejecting the accusations, Canlan requested that he be acquitted and released. Canlan’s lawyer also requested his client’s acquittal and release.


Following defense statements, the court announced its verdict, sentencing Canlan to 7.5 years in prison on grounds that he deposited cash in Bank Asya upon Gülen’s instruction and used the encrypted messaging applications ByLock and Eagle, purported to be used exclusively by the members of Gülen network.



Other freedom of expression cases of the past week


Academic Cenk Yiğiter, a former Ankara University lecturer dismissed through a statutory decree, appeared before an Ankara court on May 17 for the first hearing of a case in which he is charged with “insulting the president” on social media. Two witnesses testified in favor of Yiğiter during the hearing. They told the Ankara 20th Criminal Court of First Instance that Yiğiter’s social media post was not about the president. The case was opened after a former student of Yiğiter’s filed a compliant against the academic. The court adjourned the case until October 4, 2018.


Stage actor Barış Atay was taken into custody on May 16 for one of his social media posts on Twitter. Atay’s post was about a recent “public apology” by a former prime ministerial aide who infamously kicked a miner during a protest following Turkey’s Soma mining disaster. Atay was taken into custody immediately after Hürriyet columnist Ahmet Hakan pointed a finger at Atay for his reaction in his newspaper column. The Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office launched an investigation into Atay. The allegation against the actor is “inciting the public to hatred and animosity.” Atay was released from police custody the same day around midnight.


An Ankara prosecutor has filed for the lifting of the parliamentary immunity of People’s Democratic Party (HDP) Istanbul MP Garo Paylan on grounds of a criminal investigation into the lawmaker. The accusations against Paylan are “insulting the Turkish Republic and its government” and “insulting the president.” The accusations are based on Paylan’s remarks concerning the “Armenian genocide” during an interview he gave to a Canadian news magazine.


Musician Pınar Aydınlar was sent to prison on May 15 to serve an earlier sentence that was upheld by an upper court. Aydınlar was arrested at the Atatürk Airport in Istanbul upon her arrival from Germany. Aydınlar will serve a 10-month sentence for her remarks during public speeches as part of her campaign as an HDP candidate in the 2015 elections. Aydınlar was sent to the Bakırköy Women’s Prison.



Upcoming journalist trials this month


Following is a brief overview of some of the major ongoing journalist trials in Turkey, selected from a comprehensive list compiled by P24. For further information on upcoming trials, visit this regularly updated webpage.


Three lawsuits filed against the imprisoned novelist Ahmet Altan, all seeking non-pecuniary damages for Altan’s remarks in his newspaper columns, will be heard during the week of May 21-27. Three different courts in Ankara and Istanbul will be overseeing the cases, including the Supreme Court of Appeals. One of the cases, to be heard by an Ankara court on May 24, was filed by the President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, claiming that Altan violated his personal rights in his January 2012 column “Devlet Yardakçılığı ve Ahlak” (“State Complicity and Morality”), about the infamous Roboskî bombing in 2011, where 34 civilians were killed.


Cumhuriyet reporter Ahmet Şık will appear before the 17th Criminal Court of First Instance on May 22 for the third hearing of a case in which he is indicted for “openly denigrating the Republic of Turkey, its judicial organs and its military and police,” facing a prison sentence between 6 months and 2 years.


Imprisoned journalist Nazlı Ilıcak will appear before the 26th High Criminal Court of Istanbul on May 23 for the second hearing of a trial in which she is facing life imprisonment on “espionage” charges on account of a newspaper column she wrote in 2015. 


Also on May 23, Erdoğan Alayumat and Nuri Akman, two reporters for the shuttered Dihaber news agency, are set to appear before the 2nd High Criminal court of Hatay for the third hearing of their trial in which both face up to 45 years in prison on “espionage” and “membership in a terrorist organization” charges. Alayumat has been in detention on remand since July 2017 as part of this case.



List of journalists and media workers in prison


As of May 18, 2018, there are at least 175 journalists and media workers in Turkey’s prisons either in pretrial detention or serving a sentence. The full list can be accessed here.


1    Abdulkadir Turay, DİHA reporter

2    Abdullah Kaya, DİHA

3    Abdullah Kılıç, Habertürk

4    Abdullah Özyurt, Zaman reporter

5    Abdulvahap İş, freelance journalist

6    Adil Demirci, ETHA reporter

7    Ahmet Altan

8    Ahmet Feyzullah Özyurt

9    Ahmet Memiş, Haberdar news website

10    Ahmet Metin Sekizkardeş, Zaman

11    Ahmet Turan Alkan, Zaman

12    Ahmet Yavaş, TRT (Erzurum)

13    Ali Ahmet Böken, TRT News coordinator

14    Ali Akkuş, Zaman

15    Ali Aşikar, Azadiya Welat

16    Ali Babür Boysal, Zaman page designer

17    Ali Sönmez Kayar, ETHA reporter

18    Ali Ünal, Zaman columnist

19    Ali Yüce, TRT Radio broadcasts chief

20    Arafat Dayan, Demokratik Ulus

21    Aslı Ceren Aslan, Özgür Gelecek

22    Ayşe Nazlı Ilıcak

23    Ayşenur Parıldak, Zaman, Haberdar

24    Aytekin Gezici, journalist/writer

25    Aziz İstegün, Diyarbakır Zaman representative

26    Barış Ceyhan, Özgürlükçü Demokrasi employee

27    Bayram Kaya, Zaman reporter

28    Behram Kılıç

29    Beytullah Özdemir, Zaman Düzce bureau chief

30    Burçin Dokgöz, former Zaman and Çorum reporter

31    Cemal Azmi Kalyoncu, Journalists and Writers’ Foundation

32    Cemal Tunç, Gün Matbaacılık employee

33    Ceren Taşkın, Hatay'ın Sesi

34    Cuma Ulus, Millet newspaper’s publications coordinator

35    Cumali Öz, Gün Matbaacılık employee

36    Cüneyt Seza Özkan, Samanyolu TV

37    Çetin Kurşun, Azadiya Welat

38    Emin Demir, freelancer

39    Emre Soncan, Zaman defense reporter

40    Ercan Gün, Fox TV

41    Erdal Süsem, Eylül magazine editor

42    Erdal Şen, former Meydan managing editor

43    Erdoğan Alayumat, Dihaber reporter

44    Erdoğan Zamur, Gün Matbaacılık employee

45    Erol Yüksel, TRT News Department vice president

46    Erol Zavar, Odak magazine owner and newsroom director

47    Fahrettin Kılıç, Özgür Toplum

48    Faruk Akkan, Cihan news agency

49    Ferhat Çiftçi, Azadiya Welat Gaziantep bureau chief

50    Ferhat Parlak, Silvan Mücadele newspaper owner

51    Fevzi Yazıcı, Zaman chief designer

52    Gökçe Fırat Çulhaoğlu, Türksolu columnist

53    Gökhan Öner, former Dihaber reporter

54    Gurbet Çakar, Hevi women’s magazine

55    Gültekin Avcı

56    Habip Güler, Zaman reporter

57    Hakan Aksel, TRT producer-director

58    Hakan Ergün, Azadiya Welat and Özgür Gündem distributor

59    Hakan Taşdelen

60    Halil İbrahim Mert, TRT (Erzurum)

61    Hamit Dilbahar, Azadiya Welat columnist

62    Hamza Günerigök, TRT

63    Hanım Büşra Erdal, Zaman reporter and columnist

64    Hasan Duman, Özgürlükçü Demokrasi distributor

65    Hatice Duman, Atılım newspaper owner and managing editor

66    Havva Cuştan, ETHA reporter

67    Haydar Ergül, Demokratik Modernite editor

68    Hicran Ürün, Özgürlükçü Demokrasi editor

69    Hidayet Karaca, Samanyolu Media Group president

70    Hüseyin Aydın, Cihan reporter

71    İbrahim Kareyeğen, responsible editor for Zaman

72    İdris Okur, Cihan New Agency Çorum reporter

73    İdris Sayılgan, DİHA

74    İdris Yılmaz

75    İhsan Sinmiş, Gün Matbaacılık employee

76    İhsan Yaşar, Özgürlükçü Demokrasi owner

77    İrfan Karaca, Gün Matbaacılık employee

78    İshak Yasul, Özgürlükçü Demokrasi responsible managing editor

79    İsmail Çoban, former Azadiya Welat managing editor

80    İsmail Ersan, Anatolia news agency

81    İsminaz Temel, ETHA editor

82    Kamuran Sunbat, former DİHA Çukurova reporter

83    Kasım Zengin, owner of Gün Matbaacılık

84    Kazım Canlan, Cihan news agency Ankara news director

85    Kazım Göçer, Gün Matbaacılık employee

86    Kemal Daşdöğen, Gün Matbaacılık employee

87    Kemal Demir, TV 10

88    Kemal Özer, Evrensel

89    Kemal Sancılı, Özgür Gündem copyrights holder

90    Kenan Karavil, Radyo Dünya editor-in-chief

91    Kubilay Çelik, Antropolog magazine responsible managing editor

92    Mahmut Abay, Gün Matbaacılık employee

93    Mehmet Ali Ay

94    Mehmet Ali Çelebi, Özgürlükçü Demokrasi editor

95    Mehmet Altan

96    Mehmet Baransu, Taraf columnist/reporter

97    Mehmet Dursun

98    Mehmet Emin Sümeli, Gün Matbaacılık employee

99    Mehmet Güleş, DİHA

100    Mehmet Gündem

101    Mehmet Kadir Özkara, Gün Matbaacılık employee

102    Mehmet Kuru, Zaman Eskişehir reporter

103    Mehmet Sıddık damar, DİHA

104    Meltem Oktay, DİHA reporter

105    Mikail Barut, Özgür Halk former editor

106    Miktat Algül, Mezitli FM broadcast coordinator

107    Mizgin Çay, Radyo Karacadağ

108    Muhammed Sait Kuloğlu, owner of Subuhaber.com

109    Muhammet Özkan, Gün Matbaacılık employee

110    Muhsin Pilgir, Zaman and Cihan news agency

111    Murat Çapan, Nokta

112    Murat Dağdeviren, Demokrat Gebze owner

113    Musa Kaya, Gün Matbaacılık employee

114    Mustafa Erkan Acar, Bugün news editor

115    Mustafa Gök, Ankara bureau chief for Ekmek ve Adalet magazine

116    Mustafa Göktaş, Özgür Gündem Şanlıurfa reporter

117    Mustafa Ünal, Zaman

118    Mutlu Çölgeçen, Millet, newsroom coordinator

119    Mutlu Özay, Cihan reporter

120    Mümtazer Türköne, Zaman columnist

121    Mürsel Demir, Gün Matbaacılık employee

122    Nadir Yücel, Çorum Yıldız local newspaper editor-in-chief

123    Necat Hizarcı, Gün Matbaacılık employee

124    Nedim Türfent, DİHA

125    Nizamettin İzgi, Batman newspaper owner

126    Nuh Gönültaş, Bugün columnist

127    Nuri Durna, TRT

128    Nuri Yeşil, Azadiya Welat Dersim bureau chief

129    Nurullah Kaya, Gaziantep Zaman representative

130    Oğuz Usluer, Habertürk former broadcasts coordinator

131    Osman Yakut, Zaman Antalya

132    Ömer Oruç, Cihan newspaper

133    Özcan Keser, TRT reporter

134    Özgür Bozkurt, Gün Matbaacılık employee

135    Pınar Gayıp, ETHA reporter

136    Pınar Tarlak, Özgürlükçü Demokrasi employee

137    Polat Arslan, Gün Matbaacılık employee

138    Reyhan Çapan, Özgür Gündem managing editor

139    Reyhan Hacıoğlu, Özgürlükçü Demokrasi editor

140    Sadettin Demirtaş, Gün Matbaacılık employee

141    Sadık Demir, Radyo Karacadağ

142    Sait Gürkan Tuzlu, Cihan reporter

143    Salih Erbekler, Radyo Karacadağ

144    Sami Tunca, Mücadele Birliği magazine managing editor

145    Seda Taşkın, Mezopotamya News Agency reporter

146    Semiha Mete, Özgürlükçü Demokrasi reporter/distributor

147    Semiha Şahin, ETHA editor

148    Serhat Şeftali, Zaman regional bureau chief for the Med region

149    Serkan Aydemir, Bitlis Aktüel reporter

150    Serpil Ünal, Mücadele Birliği reporter

151    Sertan Önal, Halkın Günlüğü reporter

152    Seyid Kılıç, TRT News

153    Seyithan Akyüz, Azadiya Welat Adana bureau chief

154    Songül Yücel, Önsöz editor in chief

155    Süleyman Acar, Mücadele Birliği editor in chief

156    Süleyman Güneş, Gün Matbaacılık employee

157    Şahabettin Demir, DİHA reporter

158    Şeref Yılmaz, Irmak TV

159    Şerife Oruç, DİHA reporter

160    Togay Okay, Özgür Gelecek

161    Turgut Usul, TRT reporter

162    Ufuk Şanlı, former Vatan columnist

163    Uğur Selman Kelekçiler, Gün Matbaacılık employee

164    Ünal Tanık, Rota Haber editor-in-chief

165    Vahit Yazgan, İzmir Zaman bureau chief

166    Veli Büyükşahin, TV10 executive

167    Veli Haydar Güleç, TV10 executive

168    Yakup Çetin, Zaman reporter

169    Yakup Şimşek, Zaman, marketing director

170    Yalçın Güler, TRT (Erzurum)

171    Yener Dönmez, Habervaktim news website

172    Yetkin Yıldız, Aktif Haber website editor

173    Yılmaz Kahraman, Özgür Halk editor

174    Zehra Doğan, Jinha

175    Ziya Ataman, DİHA reporter



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