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23 January

Freedom of Expression and the Press in Turkey - 174

Journalists Reyhan Çapan, Seda Taşkın released from prison; new indictment accuses Gazete Karınca publisher of “propaganda”

Reyhan Çapan, the former managing editor of the shuttered pro-Kurdish daily Özgür Gündem, who was sent to prison in May 2018 to serve a 15-month sentence that was upheld by an appellate court, was this week ordered to be released under probation. Although Çapan was expected to be freed on 16 January, she remained in prison because of a TL 55,660 sum of fines that had been imposed on her in separate cases and were overdue. Çapan was eventually released from the Erzurum Prison on 17 January.
Also on 17 January, Seda Taşkın, a reporter for the Mezopotamya news agency (MA), who had been in prison for a year, was released from the Sincan Prison in Ankara. Taşkın was released as per an interim ruling issued by an appellate court overseeing the appeal against the prison sentence Taşkın was given in October. Taşkın was sentenced to a total of 7,5 years in prison on the charges of “aiding a terrorist group without being its member” and “disseminating propaganda for a terrorist group.”
Court rules to merge two trials against Sözcü daily
A new court case in which five journalists from the daily Sözcü, including columnists Emin Çölaşan and Necati Doğru, are accused of “aiding the terrorist organization ‘FETÖ’ without being part of its hierarchical structure” got under way on 18 January at the 37th High Criminal Court of Istanbul.
The other defendants in the case are the newspaper’s chief editor Metin Yılmaz, website news coordinator Yücel Arı and website editor Mustafa Çetin.
The court, which also oversees the ongoing trial into three other Sözcü employees and the newspaper’s former publisher, Burak Akbay, ruled at the end of the first hearing to merge the two case files and hand over both files to the prosecution for their final opinion of the case to be drafted.
The next hearing in the merged case is set for 12 March 2019.
Celalettin Can taken into custody
Celalettin Can, the speaker of the 78'liler Girişimi (78'ers initiative) was taken into custody on 18 January during an early morning raid on his Istanbul home.
Can was detained as part of an investigation concerning a speech he had delivered in Izmir. Can was initially taken to the Ataköy Police Station, from where he was set to be taken to Izmir.
Özgür Gündem main trial adjourned until April
The “Özgür Gender main trial,” where the former publisher, editors, and advisory board members of the shuttered newspaper stand accused of “disrupting the unity of the state,” “terrorist group membership” and “disseminating propaganda for a terrorist group,” resumed on 17 January in Istanbul.
P24 monitored the hearing at the Istanbul 23rd High Criminal Court. The paper’s jailed publisher Kemal Sancılı addressed the court from the Edirne Prison via the courtroom video-conferencing system SEGBİS. Both Sancılı and his lawyer Özcan Kılıç requested for his release pending trial.
The prosecution requested the continuation of Sancılı’s pre-trial detention. Issuing an interim ruling at the end of the hearing, the court ordered the continuation of Sancılı’s detention and adjourned the trial until 10 April 2019.
Ahmet Altan’s lawyer files for his acquittal and release
The lawyer representing jailed novelist and journalist Ahmet Altan has filed a petition with the Supreme Court of Appeals, requesting for Altan’s acquittal and release. Altan has been imprisoned since September 2016.
In her petition dated 16 January, Altan’s lawyer Figen Çalıkuşu objected to the accusation in the judicial opinion by the General Prosecutor of the Supreme Court of Appeals, which was submitted on 8 January to the 16th Criminal Chamber of the Court. The Chamber will be overseeing the appeals against the verdict for Altan, his brother, Mehmet Altan, journalist Nazlı Ilıcak, and their three co-defendants, who were convicted in February 2018 of the “coup” charge and sentenced to aggravated life imprisonment. After the trial court’s verdict was upheld by an appellate court in October, defense lawyers brought the verdict before the Supreme Court of Appeals.
The judicial opinion by the General Prosecutor requested the reversal of the appellate court’s verdict and asserted that the Altan brothers and Ilıcak should have been charged with “aiding a terrorist organization without being its member,” instead of the original charge of “attempting to overthrow the constitutional order.”
Çalıkuşu asserted in her petition that the new accusation sought for Altan in the judicial opinion was unacceptable and that her client should be acquitted and released.
Academic Bülent Şık faces new investigation for social media posts
A new investigation has been launched into academic Bülent Şık, who is already facing a court case over a series of articles he penned last year for the Cumhuriyet daily.
The allegation is that Şık “disseminated propaganda for a terrorist group” via his social media posts. An article by Şık in which he wrote about nitrates in food was added to the investigation file.
The Chief Public Prosecutor’s Offices of Antalya and Istanbul and the police are jointly working on the investigation file, reports said.
Court lifts travel ban on İshak Karakaş 
The fourth hearing in a trial where journalist İshak Karakaş, the editor-in-chief of the newspaper Halkın Nabzı,and nine other defendants stand accused of “propaganda” on account of their social media posts, took place on 17 January at the 28th High Criminal Court of Istanbul.
P24 monitored the hearing, where the defendants and their lawyers responded to the accusations in the prosecutor’s final opinion of the case, which was submitted to the court in between hearings, and requested continuance for the final defense statements.
The prosecution’s final opinion requests that Karakaş be convicted of “successively disseminating propaganda for a terrorist group.” 
Addressing the court during the hearing, Karakaş made explanations concerning his social media posts cited in the prosecution’s final opinion. Karakaş requested to be acquitted as he wrapped up his statement.
In its interim ruling at the end of the hearing, the court ruled to lift the international travel ban imposed on all defendants in the case because all defense statements have been heard. The court also lifted other judicial control measures imposed on the defendants and set 26 March 2019 as the date for the next hearing.
Ziya Ataman remains behind bars in fifth hearing
A trial where former Dicle news agency (DİHA) reporter Ziya Ataman is among jailed defendants resumed on 17 January.
Ataman, who has been jailed pending trial since April 2016, and 18 others are on trial on eight different charges, including “disrupting the unity and integrity of the state,” “attempting to intentionally kill with premeditation a civil servant because of the performance of a public duty” and “attempting to premeditated murder.”
After hearing the defense lawyers, the 1st High Criminal Court of Şırnak ordered the continuation of detention of all jailed defendants and adjourned the trial until 26 March 2019.
Çağdaş Erdoğan acquitted of “insulting the president”
Photojournalist Çağdaş Erdoğan on 16 January appeared in a court in Bursa for the first hearing of his trial on the charge of “insulting the president” in a social media post. 
Erdoğan and his lawyer were in attendance at the 13th Criminal Court of First Instance of Bursa for the hearing. Erdoğan submitted a written defense statement to the court, where he responded to the allegation and explained to the court that the said social media post was not about the president.
Issuing its verdict at the end of the hearing, the court ruled for Erdoğan’s acquittal.
7 more academics convicted for signing peace petition 
Two Istanbul courts convicted seven more academics last week for signing a peace petition in 2016.
On 17 January, the 36th High Criminal Court of Istanbul convicted academics Emin Alper and Kerem Eksen of “spreading propaganda for a terrorist organization” as per Article 7/2 of the Law on the Fight against Terror (TMK). Both academics were given a 15-month prison sentence and both sentences were deferred.
The 36th High Criminal Court of Istanbul on 16 January convicted academics  Efe Arık, U.Ş., Reyda Ergün and Taner Gören of the same charge and sentenced each to 15 months in prison. All four sentences were deferred.
The 25th High Criminal Court of Istanbul, on the other hand, convicted academic M.A. of “aiding a terrorist organization without being its member” instead of the initial charge, and gave the academic a prison sentenceof 2 years and 1 month. The sentence was not deferred. One of the judges on the panel wrote a dissenting opinion, saying the defendant “should have been punished as per Article 7/2 of the TMK” -- the propaganda charge.
OHAL Commission rejects Mehmet Altan’s application
The Inquiry Commission on the State of Emergency Measures (OHAL Commission) has rejected Mehmet Altan’s application for reinstatement. Altan was dismissed from his post as a professor of economics with the Istanbul University with an emergency decree after a prosecutor pressed charges against him and his brother.
The reasoning cited in OHAL Commission’s decision, dated 6 December 2018, was that legal proceedings against Altan were still ongoing, as well as an administrative report about Altan. Altan was notified of the decision on 8 January -- more than one month after the commission’s decision.
Upon receiving the notification, Altan and his lawyer petitioned against the president and the members of the commission on the grounds that the decision on his application was rendered without waiting for the completion of the legal proceedings against him.
The petition, filed by Altan’s lawyer Figen Çalıkuşu, requested that the president and the members of the OHAL Commission violated the Turkish Constitution and that they should be made to stand trial for misconduct.
Turkey deports Dutch journalist 
Ans Boersma, the Turkey correspondent for the Dutch media outlet FD Nieuws, was deported.
FD Nieuws reported that the journalist was told on 16 January at the immigration office, where she went to extend her residence permit, that she “had been deported.” No grounds for her deportation were provided.
ECtHR: Turkey violated Osman Baydemir’s freedom of expression
The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that Turkey pay compensation to Kurdish politician Osman Baydemir for violating his right to freedom of expression.
Baydemir, the former mayor of Diyarbakır, stood trial in 2008 for his remarks during a speech he delivered in 2006. The trial court found Baydemir guilty of “praising crime and criminals” and gave Baydemir a prison sentence which it then reduced to a fine. After Baydemir’s fine was upheld in 2010 by the Supreme Court of Appeals, his lawyer took Baydemir’s case to the ECtHR.
In its judgment rendered on 15 January 2019, the Second Section Committee of the Court ruled that Turkey pay Baydemir 2,975 euros in compensation for the violation of Article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights.
Ferhat Tunç detained at Istanbul airport 
Musician Ferhat Tunç was taken into custody on 13 January at the Atatürk Airport upon arriving in Istanbul on a flight from Germany. He was detained on the grounds of an arrest warrant. Tunç was brought to the Bakırköy Courthouse the next day, where he gave his statement to the Diyarbakır Chief Public Prosecutor as part of two separate investigations. Tunç was released after his statements were taken.
Prosecution seeks jail terms for all defendants in “Gün Matbaa case”
The third hearing in the trial into the 21 employees of Gün Matbaacılık, the company that printed the shuttered newspaper Özgürlükçü Demokrasi, took place on 14 January in Istanbul.
The prosecution submitted their final opinion of the case during the hearing, requesting that 12 defendants (owner of the printing house Kasım Zengin, employees İrfan Karaca, Mahmut Abay, Cemal Tunç, Erdoğan Zamur, İhsan Sinmiş, Kazım Göçer, Mehmet Emin Sürmeli, Musa Kaya, Sadettin Demirtaş, Necat Hizarcı and Polat Arslan) be convicted of “membership in a terrorist group” and 9 defendants (printing house employees Mehmet Kadir Özkara, Mürsel Demir, Özgür Bozkurt, Cumali Öz, Süleyman Güneş, Kemal Daşdöğen, Derviş Arvas, Muhammet Özkan and Uğur Selman Kelekçiler) of “knowingly and willingly aiding a terrorist organization.” The prosecution also demanded the continuation of detention of defendants who have been in prison on remand.
In its interim ruling at the end of the hearing, the 26th High Criminal Court of Istanbul ruled to keep nine jailed defendants in the case behind bars and adjourned the trial until 11 February.
Gazete Karınca publisher to stand trial on “propaganda” charge
A recent indictment issued by the Press Offenses bureau under the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office accuses Necla Demir, the publisher of the online news outlet Gazete Karınca, with “successively disseminating propaganda for a terrorist group.”
The indictment, accepted by the 33rd High Criminal Court of Istanbul, seeks up to 13 years in prison for Demir.
The investigation into Gazete Karınca was based on a complaint filed on 21 January 2018 with the Prime Ministry Communication Center (BİMER). The complaint accused the media outlet of serving “as a speaker for the PYD/PKK.”
The media outlet’s coverage of Turkey’s military operation on Syria’s Afrin are held as evidence in the indictment.
List of journalists and media workers in prison 
Following Reyhan Çapan and Seda Taşkın’s release on 17 January, at least 160 journalists and media workers still remain behind bars in Turkey, either in pre-trial detention or serving a sentence.
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 Özdemir, Zaman Düzce bureau chief
28 Burçin Dokgöz, former Zaman and Çorum reporter
29 Cemal Azmi Kalyoncu, Journalists and Writers’ Foundation
30 Cemal Tunç, Gün Matbaacılık employee
31 Ceren Taşkın, Hatay Ses
32 Cuma Ulus, Millet newspaper’s publications coordinator
33 Cumali Çaygeç, TRT Şeş news director
34 Cüneyt Seza Özkan, Samanyolu TV
35 Çetin Kurşun, Azadiya Welat
36 Doğan Baran, Odak magazine owner, managing editor
37 Emin Demir, freelancer
38 Emre Soncan, Zaman defense reporter
39 Ercan Gün, Fox TV
40 Erdal Süsem, Eylül magazine editor
41 Erdal Şen, former Meydan managing editor
42 Erdoğan Zamur, Gün Matbaacılık employee
43 Eren Erdem, Karşı newspaper former editor-in-chief 
44 Erol Yüksel, TRT News Department vice president
45 Erol Zavar, Odak magazine owner and newsroom director
46 Fahri Öztoprak, Cihan/Zaman Samsun correspondent
47 Faruk Akkan, Cihan news agency
48 Ferhat Çiftçi, Azadiya Welat Gaziantep bureau chief
49 Ferhat Parlak, Silvan Mücadele newspaper owner
50 Fevzi Yazıcı, Zaman chief designer
51 Gökçe Fırat Çulhaoğlu, Türksolu columnist
52 Gurbet Çakar, Hevi women’s magazine
53 Gültekin Avcı
54 Habip Güler, Zaman reporter
55 Hakan Aksel, TRT producer-director
56 Hakan Ergün, Azadiya Welat and Özgür Gündem distributor
57 Hakan Taşdelen
58 Halil İbrahim Mert, TRT (Erzurum)
59 Hamit Dilbahar, Azadiya Welat columnist
60 Hamza Günerigök, TRT
61 Hanım Büşra Erdal, Zaman reporter and columnist
62 Harun Çümen, Zaman former managing editor
63 Hasan Bozkurt, Bugün reporter
64 Hasan Duman, Özgürlükçü Demokrasi distributor
65 Hasan Hüseyin Örs, former TRT production-broadcast operator
66 Hasan Taşar, former TRT Ankara reporter
67 Hatice Duman, Atılım newspaper owner and managing editor
68 Haydar Ergül, Demokratik Modernite editor
69 Hicran Ürün, Özgürlükçü Demokrasi editor
70 Hidayet Karaca, Samanyolu Media Group president
71 Hüseyin Aydın, Cihan reporter
72 İbrahim Halil Öztürkeri, former TRT production-broadcast operator
73 İdris Okur, Cihan New Agency Çorum reporter
74 İdris Sayılgan, DİHA
75 İdris Yılmaz
76 İhsan Sinmiş, Gün Matbaacılık employee
77 İhsan Yaşar, Özgürlükçü Demokrasi owner
78 İrfan Karaca, Gün Matbaacılık employee
79 İshak Yasul, Özgürlükçü Demokrasi responsible managing editor
80 İsmail Çoban, former Azadiya Welat managing editor
81 İsmail Ersan, Anatolia news agency
82 İsminaz Temel, ETHA editor
83 Kamuran Sunbat, former DİHA Çukurova reporter
84 Kasım Zengin, owner of Gün Matbaacılık
85 Kazım Canlan, Cihan news agency Ankara news director
86 Kemal Demir, TV 10 
87 Kemal Özer, Evrensel
88 Kemal Sancılı, Özgür Gündem copyrights holder
89 Kenan Karavil, Radyo Dünya editor-in-chief
90 Kibriye Evren, JinNews reporter
91 Mahmut Abay, Gün Matbaacılık employee
92 Mehmet Ali Ay
93 Mehmet Ali Çelebi, Özgürlükçü Demokrasi editor
94 Mehmet Baransu, Taraf columnist/reporter
95 Mehmet Emin Sümeli, Gün Matbaacılık employee
96 Mehmet Güleş, DİHA
97 Mehmet Gündem
98 Mehmet Kuru, Zaman Eskişehir reporter
99 Mehmet Sıddık damar, DİHA
100 Meltem Oktay, DİHA reporter
101 Metin Arslan, Bugün reporter
102 Mikail Barut, Özgür Halk former editor
103 Miktat Algül, Mezitli FM broadcast coordinator
104 Muhammed Sait Kuloğlu, owner of Subuhaber.com
105 Muhsin Pilgir, Zaman and Cihan news agency
106 Murat Çapan, Nokta
107 Murat Dağdeviren, Demokrat Gebze owner
108 Musa Kaya, Gün Matbaacılık employee
109 Mustafa Erkan Acar, Bugün news editor
110 Mustafa Gök, Ankara bureau chief for Ekmek ve Adalet magazine
111 Mustafa Gökkılıç, reporter, Radikal and Habertürk TV
112 Mustafa Göktaş, Özgür Gündem Şanlıurfa reporter
113 Mustafa Ünal, Zaman
114 Mutlu Çölgeçen, Millet, newsroom coordinator
115 Mutlu Özay, Cihan reporter
116 Mümtazer Türköne, Zaman columnist
117 Nadir Yücel, Çorum Yıldız local newspaper editor-in-chief
118 Nedim Türfent, DİHA
119 Nizamettin İzgi, Batman newspaper owner
120 Nuh Gönültaş, Bugün columnist
121 Nuri Durna, TRT
122 Nuri Yeşil, Azadiya Welat Dersim bureau chief
123 Nurullah Kaya, Gaziantep Zaman representative
124 Oğuz Usluer, Habertürk former broadcasts coordinator
125 Osman Yakut, Zaman Antalya
126 Ömer Oruç, Cihan newspaper
127 Özcan Keser, TRT reporter
128 Özden Kınık, TRT
129 Pınar Gayıp, ETHA reporter
130 Reyhan Hacıoğlu, Özgürlükçü Demokrasi editor
131 Rojhat Doğru, reporter for Gale Kurdistan TV
132 Sadık Demir, Radyo Karacadağ
133 Sait Gürkan Tuzlu, Cihan reporter
134 Sami Tunca, Mücadele Birliği magazine managing editor
135 Semiha Mete, Özgürlükçü Demokrasi reporter/distributor
136 Semiha Şahin, ETHA editor
137 Serhat Şeftali, Zaman regional bureau chief for the Med region
138 Serkan Aydemir, Bitlis Aktüel reporter
139 Serkan Canbaz, TRT Ankara reporter, news editor
140 Sertan Önal, Halkın Günlüğü reporter
141 Seyid Kılıç, TRT News
142 Seyithan Akyüz, Azadiya Welat Adana bureau chief
143 Sezai Yavaş, TRT Diyarbakır deputy regional director 
144 Şahabettin Demir, DİHA reporter
145 Şeref Yılmaz, Irmak TV
146 Turgut Usul, TRT reporter
147 Ufuk Şanlı, former Vatan columnist
148 Uğur Akgül
149 Uğur Selman Kelekçiler, Gün Matbaacılık employee
150 Ünal Tanık, Rota Haber editor-in-chief
151 Vahit Yazgan, İzmir Zaman bureau chief
152 Veli Büyükşahin, TV10 executive
153 Veli Haydar Güleç, TV10 executive
154 Yakup Çetin, Zaman reporter
155 Yakup Şimşek, Zaman, marketing director
156 Yalçın Güler, TRT (Erzurum)
157 Yetkin Yıldız, Aktif Haber website editor
158 Yılmaz Kahraman, Özgür Halk editor
159 Zehra Doğan, Jinha
160 Ziya Ataman, DİHA reporter


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