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25 November

Freedom of Expression and the Press in Turkey - 165

Murat Aksoy sent back to prison as per recent appellate court ruling; jailed journo İsmail Çoban given 5-year sentence on “propaganda” charge

Journalist Murat Aksoy, who was given a 25-month prison sentence earlier this year in the major media trial publicly known as the “FETÖ media trial,” reported to the Istanbul Courthouse on 22 November to serve that prison sentence, which was recently upheld by an appellate court.
Aksoy was arrested and sent to the Metris Prion.
In March, the trial court convicted Aksoy and one of his co-defendants in the case, singer and columnist Atilla Taş, of “knowingly and willingly aiding a terrorist organization without being its member.”
Aksoy and Taş had each remained in pretrial detention for more than a year as part of the case before being released by the trial court in October 2017.
An appellate court ruling on the defendants’ appeals for the prison sentences on 22 October 2018 upheld the trial court’s ruling, thus making the trial court’s verdict final concerning Aksoy and Taş because sentences less than five years cannot be appealed further once they are upheld by an appellate court.
On 13 November 2018, Aksoy received a notice ordering he report to the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office in 10 days for the execution of the prison sentence. Aksoy announced on his social media account on 20 November that he was to be sent to prison on 22 November as per the verdict, and that he would have to remain behind bars until the approval of his probation.
BirGün publisher given 11-month sentence for “insulting the president”
İbrahim Aydın, the publisher of BirGün daily, was given a prison sentence of 11 months and 20 days in a trial where he was accused of “insulting the president” in an article published in BirGün.
Aydın was indicted because the said article had claimed that “the Turkish government was supporting jihadists in Syria.” The final hearing of the case was on 22 November. The 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance of Istanbul suspended the sentence.
Pelin Ünker appears in court for second “Paradise Papers” lawsuit
Journalist Pelin Ünker on 22 November appeared before an Istanbul court for a lawsuit where she is accused of “libel” on account of two news stories she penned for Cumhuriyet daily about the “Paradise Papers” leaks.
The case, filed upon complaints by Minister Berat Albayrak and his brother, Serhat Albayrak, is overseen by the 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance of Istanbul.
Ünker, her lawyers and lawyers representing the plaintiffs were in attendance at the hearing.
Ünker’s lawyer Tora Pekin requested that the files of two separate cases against Ünker before the same court where the accusations stem from the same articles be merged. Pekin requested that Ünker give her defense statement after the merging of the files.
In its interim ruling at the end of the hearing, the court ruled to review the two files against Ünker to examine the legal and de facto connection between the two, and adjourned the trial until 21 February 2019.
Trial against Sibel Hürtaş and Hayri Demir adjourned until January
The second hearing of a trial where 11 defendants, including Artı TV’s Ankara representative Sibel Hürtaş and Mezopotamya news agency reporter Hayri Demir, stand accused for their social media posts concerning Turkey’s military operation on Syria’s Afrin, was held on 22 November in Ankara.
The defendants in the case are accused of “disseminating propaganda for a terrorist organization” and “inciting the public to hatred and animosity.” They  each face up to 10 years in prison if convicted.
The trial is overseen by the 15th High Criminal Court of Ankara.
At the beginning of the hearing, the chief judge on the panel announced that the police report in response to an enquiry on the dates of the social media posts that are the grounds for the accusations has arrived.
The defendants then addressed the court for their defense statements, each rejecting the accusations and requesting for their acquittal. The defense statements were frequently interrupted by the chief judge on the panel, and were not fully transcribed in the court minutes.
Defense lawyer Nuray Özdoğan, who addressed the court on behalf of the entire defense, requested that the defendants be granted the right of exemption from attendance in hearings. Özdoğan also requested additional time to examine the reports that have recently been added to the case file.
During the hearing, defense lawyers complained that there was a perceptible noise from police radio inside the courtroom and that this constituted a violation of the defendants’ rights to a fair trial.
In its interim ruling at the end of the hearing, the court granted the defendants the right of exemption from attendance and adjourned the trial until 22 January 2019.
“Insulting the president” case against Perihan Mağden adjourned
The trial in which author and columnist Perihan Mağden and journalist İnan Ketenciler stand accused of “insulting the president” resumed on 22 November at the 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance of Istanbul.
Mağden is accused because of her remarks in an article in April 2016, in which she likened a contestant in the TV show “Survivor” to President Erdoğan. Ketenciler is standing trial because the article was posted in the news website T24.
The court adjourned the trial until 21 February 2019 for Mağden’s final defense statement.
Case against Acar, Ok transferred to different court for lack of jurisdiction
The trial where Cihan Acar, a former reporter for the shuttered daily Özgür Düşünce, and lawyer Veysel Ok are charged with “publicly degrading the judiciary” resumed on 22 November. At the end of the hearing, the 37th Criminal Court of First Instance declared it had no jurisdiction over the case and ruled that the file be transferred to the 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance of Istanbul, which has jurisdiction over “offenses committed through the press.”
İsmail Çoban given 5-year prison sentence on “propaganda” charge
İsmail Çoban, the jailed former managing editor of the shuttered Kurdish language daily Azadiya Welat, was given a 5-year prison sentence on 21 November at the final hearing of his trial on the “propaganda” charge.
Çoban was accused of “successively disseminating propaganda for a terrorist organization” on account of a number of news articles and columns the newspaper published in 2013.
Submitting its final opinion of the case during the hearing at the 7th High Criminal Court of Diyarbakır, the prosecution requested that Çoban be given a prison term of up to 7 years.
Çoban’s lawyer Resul Tamur, addressing the court for Çoban’s defense statement, requested that the case be dismissed due to the statute of limitations in Article 26 of Turkey’s Press Law, since the indictment against Çoban was drafted after the expiration of the four-month period prescribed by law.
Announcing its verdict at the end of the hearing, the court convicted Çoban and imposed on the jailed journalist a 5-year prison term.
Ahmet Kanbal appears in first hearing of “propaganda” case
Mezopotamya news agency (MA) reporter Ahmet Kanbal on 20 November appeared before an Izmir court for the first hearing of his trial on “propaganda” charge for his social media posts.
P24 monitored the hearing at the 2nd High Criminal Court of Izmir. Kanbal addressed the court from the Mardin Courthouse via the courtroom video-conferencing system SEGBİS and gave his defense statement.
Kanbal explained in his defense statement that the Tweets for which he is accused were aimed at journalism and not propaganda. He continued: “Currently, social media is an effective journalism tool. I use it for our news stories to reach a bigger audience in a country where newspapers are shut down [by the government].” The journalist requested his acquittal.
Following the defense statements by Kanbal and his lawyers, the prosecution went on to submit their final opinion of the case, claiming that Kanbal “attempted, through the press, to demean the Turkish military’s operations” and requesting that the journalist be convicted of “successively disseminating propaganda for a terrorist organization.”
Announcing its interim ruling at the end of the hearing, the court adjourned the trial until 26 February 2019 for Kanbal to prepare his final defense statement in response to the prosecutor’s final opinion.
Adil Demirci remains behind bars after first hearing
Adil Demirci, a Turkish-German reporter for the Etkin news agency (ETHA), on 20 November appeared in the first hearing of his trial on terrorism-related charges.
Demirci, who has been jailed pending trial since April, is standing trial along with 22 other defendants in the case.
The 25th High Criminal Court of Istanbul ruled at the end of the first hearing to keep Demirci behind bars while releasing six other jailed defendants in the case. The court set 14 February 2019 as the date for the next hearing.
Ministry files lawsuit against Anayurt newspaper, reporter
Turkey’s Ministry of Youth and Sports has filed a compensation case against the Anayurt newspaper and its reporter Tamer Arda Erşin.
The ministry claims that an interview published in the newspaper under Erşin’s byline violated the institution’s “personality rights” by damaging the public image of the ministry and its employees, and misled public opinion.
The ministry is seeking a total of TL 10,000 in damages from the daily’s responsible managing editor Ferda Bucak, reporter Erşin, head of the Ankara branch of the Turkish Chamber of Architects Tezcan Karakuş Candan, and Belde Basın Yayın Inc., the company that publishes the newspaper.
4 more academics convicted of “propaganda” for signing peace petition
Four more academics charged with “spreading propaganda for a terrorist organization” for signing 2016’s Academics for Peace petition were convicted this week.
The 36th High Criminal Court of Istanbul on 22 November convicted academics Güven Gürkan Öztan and Gülhan Türkay from Istanbul University and Mehmet Rıza Türkay from Marmara University of the “propaganda” charge as per Article 7/2 of Turkey’s anti-terror law (TMK) and gave each academic 15-month prison terms. The court deferred the sentences imposed on Öztan and Rıza Türkay while Gülhan Türkay’s sentence was suspended for two years, during which time she will be subject to probation.
Earlier in the week, on 20 November, the 28th High Criminal Court of Istanbul convicted academic Ç.A. of the same charge at the end of the second hearing of that trial. The 15-month prison sentence given to Ç.A. was deferred.
Translator charged with “propaganda” acquitted
On 22 November, Sebla Küçük, a translator and interpreter, appeared before an Istanbul court for the first hearing of her trial on the charge of “disseminating propaganda for a terrorist organization.”
Küçük was accused because of her social media posts that featured her Turkish translations of foreign news agencies’ dispatches about Turkey’s military operation on Syria’s Afrin.
Küçük submitted her written defense statement to the 35th High Criminal Court during the hearing and requested for her acquittal. Announcing their verdict at the end of the hearing, the panel acquitted Küçük of the charges.
Journalists and media workers in prison
The imprisonment of journalist Murat Aksoy on 22 November, around 13 months after his release from pretrial detention in Silivri, brought the number of jailed journalists and media workers in Turkey to at least 175.
The full list can be accessed here.
1                Abdulkadir Turay, DİHA reporter
2                Abdullah Dirican, Zaman local news editor
3                Abdullah Kaya, DİHA
4                Abdullah Kılıç, Habertürk
5                Abdullah Özyurt, Zaman reporter
6                Abdulvahap İş, freelance journalist
7                Adil Demirci, ETHA reporter
8                Ahmet Altan
9                Ahmet Feyzullah Özyurt
10              Ahmet Memiş, Haberdar news website
11              Ahmet Metin Sekizkardeş, 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 Ünal, Zaman columnist
18              Ali Yüce, TRT Radio broadcasts chief
19              Arafat Dayan, Demokratik Ulus
20              Aslı Ceren Aslan, Özgür Gelecek
21              Atilla Taş, Meydan columnist
22              Ayşe Nazlı Ilıcak
23              Ayşenur Parıldak, Zaman, Haberdar
24              Aytekin Gezici, journalist/writer
25              Aziz İstegün, Diyarbakır Zaman representative
26              Bayram Kaya, Zaman reporter
27              Beytullah Demir, Cihan news agency deputy general director
28              Beytullah Özdemir, Zaman Düzce bureau chief
29              Burçin Dokgöz, former Zaman and Çorum reporter
30              Cemal Azmi Kalyoncu, Journalists and Writers’ Foundation
31              Cemal Tunç, Gün Matbaacılık employee
32              Ceren Taşkın, Hatay'ın Sesi
33              Cuma Ulus, Millet newspaper’s publications coordinator
34              Cumali Çaygeç, TRT Şeş news director
35              Cüneyt Seza Özkan, Samanyolu TV
36              Çetin Kurşun, Azadiya Welat
37              Doğan Baran, Odak magazine owner, managing editor
38              Ece Sevim Öztürk, Çağdaş Ses editor in chief
39              Emin Demir, freelancer
40              Emre Soncan, Zaman defense reporter
41              Ercan Gün, Fox TV
42              Erdal Süsem, Eylül magazine editor
43              Erdal Şen, former Meydan managing editor
44              Erdoğan Zamur, Gün Matbaacılık employee
45              Erol Yüksel, TRT News Department vice president
46              Erol Zavar, Odak magazine owner and newsroom director
47              Fahri Öztoprak, Cihan/Zaman Samsun correspondent
48              Faruk Akkan, Cihan news agency
49              Ferhat Çiftçi, Azadiya Welat Gaziantep bureau chief
50              Ferhat Haldun Pehlivan, ETHA intern reporter
51              Ferhat Parlak, Silvan Mücadele newspaper owner
52              Fevzi Yazıcı, Zaman chief designer
53              Gökçe Fırat Çulhaoğlu, Türksolu columnist
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 Bzokurt, Bugün reporter
65              Hasan Duman, Özgürlükçü Demokrasi distributor
66              Hasan Hüseyin Örs, former TRT production-broadcast operator
67              Hasan Taşar, former TRT Ankara reporter
68              Hatice Duman, Atılım newspaper owner and managing editor
69              Haydar Ergül, Demokratik Modernite editor
70              Hicran Ürün, Özgürlükçü Demokrasi editor
71              Hidayet Karaca, Samanyolu Media Group president
72              Hüseyin Aydın, Cihan reporter
73              İbrahim Halil Öztürkeri, former TRT production-broadcast operator
74              İdris Okur, Cihan New Agency Çorum reporter
75              İdris Sayılgan, DİHA
76              İdris Yılmaz
77              İhsan Sinmiş, Gün Matbaacılık employee
78              İhsan Yaşar, Özgürlükçü Demokrasi owner
79              İrfan Karaca, Gün Matbaacılık employee
80              İshak Yasul, Özgürlükçü Demokrasi responsible managing editor
81              İsmail Çoban, former Azadiya Welat managing editor
82              İsmail Ersan, Anatolia news agency
83              İsminaz Temel, ETHA editor
84              Kamuran Sunbat, former DİHA Çukurova reporter
85              Kasım Zengin, owner of Gün Matbaacılık
86              Kazım Canlan, Cihan news agency Ankara news director
87              Kazım Göçer, Gün Matbaacılık employee
88              Kemal Demir, TV 10
89              Kemal Özer, Evrensel
90              Kemal Sancılı, Özgür Gündem copyrights holder
91              Kenan Karavil, Radyo Dünya editor-in-chief
92              Kibriye Evren, JinNews reporter
93              Kubilay Çelik, Antropolog magazine responsible managing editor
94              Mahmut Abay, Gün Matbaacılık employee
95              Max Zirngast, Re:volt magazine
96              Mehmet Ali Ay
97              Mehmet Ali Çelebi, Özgürlükçü Demokrasi editor
98              Mehmet Baransu, Taraf columnist/reporter
99              Mehmet Dursun
100            Mehmet Emin Sümeli, Gün Matbaacılık employee
101            Mehmet Güleş, DİHA
102            Mehmet Gündem
103            Mehmet Kuru, Zaman Eskişehir reporter
104            Mehmet Sıddık damar, DİHA
105            Meltem Oktay, DİHA reporter
106            Metin Arslan, Bugün reporter
107            Mikail Barut, Özgür Halk former editor
108            Miktat Algül, Mezitli FM broadcast coordinator
109            Mizgin Çay, Radyo Karacadağ
110            Muhammed Sait Kuloğlu, owner of Subuhaber.com
111            Muhsin Pilgir, Zaman and Cihan news agency
112            Murat Aksoy, former Yeni Şafak columnist
113            Murat Çapan, Nokta
114            Murat Dağdeviren, Demokrat Gebze owner
115            Musa Kaya, Gün Matbaacılık employee
116            Mustafa Erkan Acar, Bugün news editor
117            Mustafa Gök, Ankara bureau chief for Ekmek ve Adalet magazine
118            Mustafa Gökkılıç, reporter, Radikal and Habertürk TV
119            Mustafa Göktaş, Özgür Gündem Şanlıurfa reporter
120            Mustafa Ünal, Zaman
121            Mutlu Çölgeçen, Millet, newsroom coordinator
122            Mutlu Özay, Cihan reporter
123            Mümtazer Türköne, Zaman columnist
124            Mürsel Demir, Gün Matbaacılık employee
125            Nadir Yücel, Çorum Yıldız local newspaper editor-in-chief
126            Nedim Türfent, DİHA
127            Nizamettin İzgi, Batman newspaper owner
128            Nuh Gönültaş, Bugün columnist
129            Nuri Durna, TRT
130            Nuri Yeşil, Azadiya Welat Dersim bureau chief
131            Nurullah Kaya, Gaziantep Zaman representative
132            Oğuz Usluer, Habertürk former broadcasts coordinator
133            Osman Yakut, Zaman Antalya
134            Ömer Oruç, Cihan newspaper
135            Özcan Keser, TRT reporter
136            Özden Kınık, TRT
137            Pınar Gayıp, ETHA reporter
138            Polat Arslan, Gün Matbaacılık employee
139            Reyhan Çapan, Özgür Gündem managing editor
140            Reyhan Hacıoğlu, Özgürlükçü Demokrasi editor
141            Sadık Demir, Radyo Karacadağ
142            Sait Gürkan Tuzlu, Cihan reporter
143            Sami Tunca, Mücadele Birliği magazine managing editor
144            Seda Taşkın, Mezopotamya News Agency reporter
145            Semiha Mete, Özgürlükçü Demokrasi reporter/distributor
146            Semiha Şahin, ETHA editor
147            Serhat Şeftali, Zaman regional bureau chief for the Med region
148            Serkan Aydemir, Bitlis Aktüel reporter
149            Serkan Canbaz, TRT Ankara reporter, news editor
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            Sezai Yavaş, TRT Diyarbakır deputy regional director
155            Songül Yücel, Önsöz editor in chief
156            Süleyman Acar, Mücadele Birliği editor in chief
157            Şahabettin Demir, DİHA reporter
158            Şeref Yılmaz, Irmak TV
159            Şirin Kabakçı, Zaman Konya bureau chief
160            Togay Okay, Özgür Gelecek
161            Turgut Usul, TRT reporter
162            Ufuk Şanlı, former Vatan columnist
163            Uğur Akgül
164            Uğur Selman Kelekçiler, Gün Matbaacılık employee
165            Ünal Tanık, Rota Haber editor-in-chief
166            Vahit Yazgan, İzmir Zaman bureau chief
167            Veli Büyükşahin, TV10 executive
168            Veli Haydar Güleç, TV10 executive
169            Yakup Çetin, Zaman reporter
170            Yakup Şimşek, Zaman, marketing director
171            Yalçın Güler, TRT (Erzurum)
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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