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09 March

Freedom of Expression and the Press in Turkey - 181

Journalist Yasin Kobulan given 18-month prison sentence on “propaganda” charge; Evrensel journalists appear in courtrooms for four lawsuits in a week

 
On 8 March, Yasin Kobulan, a reporter for the Mezopotamya news agency (MA), was given a prison sentence of 1 year, 6 months and 22 days in a case where he was accused of “successively disseminating propaganda for a terrorist organization.”
 
The 30th High Criminal Court of Istanbul deferred the sentence by five years, during which Kobulan will be subject to probation.
 
A report about the hearing, monitored by P24, can be accessed here.
 
Fatih Polat acquitted in case filed upon former mayor’s complaint
 
On 7 March, Fatih Polat, the editor-in-chief of the daily Evrensel, appeared in the final hearing of a case where he was accused of disclosing the content of communication between persons.”
 
At the end of the hearing, monitored by P24, the 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance of Istanbul acquitted Polat of the charge.
 
The accusation stemmed from a news story published in Evrensel in February 2010 -- when Polat was the responsible managing editor of the daily. The story was about leaked tapes of an alleged phone conversation between former Ankara Mayor Melih Gökçek and former AKP MP Burhan Kuzu.
 
MA reporter Semra Turan released from custody
 
Semra Turan, a Tunceli-based reporter for the Mezopotamya news agency, was taken into custody on 6 March during an early morning police raid on her home.
 
Turan and three others who had been detained during the same operation were brought to the courthouse on 7 March, where a prosecutor referred them to a court for release under judicial control measures. Turan and three others were accused of “membership in a terrorist group.” The court ruled to release all four without imposing any judicial control measures.
 
Prosecution objects to Berna Laçin’s acquittal
 
The Istanbul Anadolu Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office objected to the acquittal of actress Berna Laçin of “publicly insulting religious beliefs held by a part of the society.”
 
The prosecution filed their objection with the Istanbul Regional Court of Justice, an appellate court. The prosecution argued that the actress should have been convicted.
 
The Istanbul Anadolu 59th Criminal Court of First Instance acquitted Laçin of the charge on 19 February. Laçin faced a prison sentence of up to 1 year in the case.
 
Judgeship issues ban for Yeni Yaşam’s 15 February issue
 
The 3rd Criminal Judgeship of Peace of Istanbul issued a ban on the 15 February 2019 issue of the pro-Kurdish newspaper Yeni Yaşam.
 
The ban was issued in response to a request by the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office as part of an investigation they launched on 1 March.
 
The newspaper’s front page coverage of the 100th day of the hunger strike by Leyla Güven, the co-chair of the Democratic Society Congress (DTK), was among the grounds for the ban. The ban order claimed that the newspaper disseminated propaganda for the PKK and the KCK.
 
Evrensel reporter Cansu Pişkin appears in court
 
Journalist Cansu Pişkin, a courthouse reporter for the daily Evrensel, appeared in an Istanbul court on 6 March for the first hearing of her trial on the charge of “marking the identity of a state official assigned in the fight against terrorism as a target.”
 
The accusation stems from a news report published last year in Evrensel about the prosecutor appointed to investigate the case of the Boğaziçi University students who were jailed for staging an anti-war demonstration on the school campus.
 
The 36th High Criminal Court of Istanbul agreed to grant additional time for Pişkin’s defense statement and adjourned the trial until 25 March.
 
A report about the hearing, monitored by P24, can be accessed here.
 
Taraf “MGK” trial adjourned until June
 
The trial of former Taraf reporter Mehmet Baransu and responsible managing editor Murat Şevki Çoban on the charges of “obtaining classified documents” and “exposing secret information pertaining to the security of state” resumed on 6 March in an Istanbul court.
 
The case is related to a news report published in Taraf on 28 November 2013 and titled “Gülen’i bitirme kararı 2004’te MGK’da alındı” (Decision to finish off Gülen taken by MGK in 2004). The story said the Fethullah Gülen network was listed as a threat in a National Security Council (MGK) meeting that year. Each journalist faces up to 52 years in prison as part of the case.
 
P24 monitored the hearing at the Istanbul Anadolu 10th High Criminal Court.
 
Çoban was not in attendance because he had given his defense statement earlier. He was represented by his lawyer Figen Çalıkuşu. Baransu and his lawyer both submitted letters of excuse because they were unable to attend the hearing.
 
During the hearing, lawyer Çalıkuşu submitted to the court an additional defense statement by Çoban in written form. Addressing the court concerning Çoban’s statement, Çalıkuşu said that according to Turkey’s Press Law, her client could not be held responsible for the content on which the accusations are based because the said content was published under a byline. Çalıkuşu requested Çoban’s acquittal.
 
The prosecution said they restated their final opinion of the case.
 
The court adjourned the trial until 19 June 2019 for Baransu and his lawyer’s final defense statements in response to the prosecution’s final opinion.
 
5 more academics convicted for signing peace petition
 
Courts in Istanbul convicted five more academics this week of “disseminating propaganda for a terrorist organization” under Article 7/2 of the Law on the Fight against Terrorism over signing 2016’s Academics for Peace petition.
 
The 30th High Criminal Court of Istanbul on 8 March convicted Y.Ö. of the “propaganda” charge and gave the academic a 15-month prison sentence. The sentence was deferred.
 
On 6 March, the 36th and 37th high criminal courts of Istanbul convicted academics Deniz Parlak and S.U. of the same charge, and sentenced both academics to 15 months in prison. Both sentences were deferred.
 
On 5 March, the 25th High Criminal Court of Istanbul handed down Professor L.N. a prison sentence of 2 years and 1 month. The sentence was not deferred because it is longer than 24 months.
 
Ruling on the case against academic Başak Tuğ Onaran, the 28th High Criminal Court of Istanbul gave Onaran a prison sentence of 1 year and 6 months. The court did not grant reduction in the sentence because the “defendant did not show remorse.” The sentence was deferred.
 
In another development on 5 March, the 37th High Criminal Court of Istanbul issued an arrest warrant for an academic who is currently abroad, whose case the court has been overseeing.
 
“Insult” case against Cem Şimşek adjourned
 
The second hearing of a case where Evrensel daily’s former responsible managing editor Cem Şimşek stands accused of “insulting” the Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak that was scheduled for 5 March was postponed to a later date because the judge was on leave.
 
The case, overseen by the 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance of Bakırköy, was filed in relation with a news story published in Evrensel on 13 July 2018. Şimşek is accused of insult and slander.
 
Lawsuit against Evrensel filed by Bilal Erdoğan adjourned
 
Another lawsuit against Evrensel, filed by President Tayyip Erdoğan’s son Bilal, claiming that a news story published on 9 March 2014 “violated his personal rights,” also resumed this week in Istanbul.
 
This was the third hearing in the case, overseen by the 20th Civil Court of First Instance of Istanbul. Bilal Erdoğan is seeking TL 50,000 in compensation in the case.
 
Erdoğan’s lawyer requested that the court wait for the outcome of an ongoing criminal lawsuit against the same content. Accepting the request, the court adjourned the trial until 15 October.
 
Akit TV news director acquitted of “insulting Atatürk”
 
The final hearing of a case where Akit TV’s responsible news director Ali Özken was standing trial on the charge of “publicly insulting the memory of Atatürk” took place on 5 March in Istanbul.
 
The Küçükçekmece 5th Criminal Court of First Instance ruled for Özken’s acquittal. Özken was accused because of a news story headlined “Zulüm 1938’de son buldu” (cruelty ended in 1938) broadcast on 10 November 2015.
 
Gezi Park trial to get under way on 24 June
 
The 30th High Criminal Court of Istanbul has accepted the recently issued indictment into 16 people including journalist Can Dündar and the jailed businessman Osman Kavala on the charge of “attempting to overthrow the government.”
 
The indictment seeks aggravated life imprisonment for all 16 individuals on account of their involvement in 2013’s Gezi Park protests.
 
The court will start hearing the case on 24 June 2019 in a courtroom near the Silivri Prison complex.
 
Court upholds conviction for Professor Füsun Üstel
 
The 3rd Criminal Chamber of the Istanbul Regional Court of Justice, an appellate court, has upheld a prison sentence given last year to Professor Füsun Üstel on the charge of “disseminating propaganda for a terrorist group” for signing a 2016 petition by the Academics for Peace initiative.
 
The appellate court rendered its verdict on 25 February. One of the judges on the panel gave a dissenting opinion, saying that the file should be sent back to the trial court because Üstel should have stood trial on the charge under Article 301 of the Turkish Criminal Code (“insulting the Turkish nation or the government of Turkey”).
 
Since Üstel was imposed a sentence less than five years, the appellate court’s ruling is final and Üstel will have to be sent to prison. Among academics standing trial for signing the petition, Üstel will be the first one to serve prison time.
 
List of journalists and media workers in prison
 
As of 8 March 2019, at least 150 journalists and media workers are in prison 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       Ahmet Altan
8       Ahmet Feyzullah Özyurt
9       Ahmet Memiş, Haberdar news website
10     Ahmet Metin Sekizkardeş, Zaman
11     Ahmet Yavaş, TRT (Erzurum)
12     Ali Ahmet Böken, TRT News coordinator
13     Ali Akkuş, Zaman
14     Ali Aşikar, Azadiya Welat
15     Ali Babür Boysal, Zaman page designer
16     Ali Ünal, Zaman columnist
17     Ali Yüce, TRT Radio broadcasts chief
18     Arafat Dayan, Demokratik Ulus
19     Aslı Ceren Aslan, Özgür Gelecek
20     Ayşe Düzkan
21     Ayşe Nazlı Ilıcak
22     Ayşenur Parıldak, Zaman, Haberdar
23     Aytekin Gezici, journalist/writer
24     Aziz İstegün, Diyarbakır Zaman representative
25     Bayram Kaya, Zaman reporter
26     Beytullah Özdemir, Zaman Düzce bureau chief
27     Burçin Dokgöz, former Zaman and Çorum reporter
28     Cemal Azmi Kalyoncu, Journalists and Writers’ Foundation
29     Ceren Taşkın, Hatay Ses
30     Cuma Ulus, Millet newspaper’s publications coordinator
31     Cüneyt Seza Özkan, Samanyolu TV
32     Çetin Kurşun, Azadiya Welat
33     Doğan Baran, Odak magazine owner, managing editor
34     Emin Demir, freelancer
35     Emre Soncan, Zaman defense reporter
36     Ercan Gün, Fox TV
37     Erdal Süsem, Eylül magazine editor
38     Erdal Şen, former Meydan managing editor
39     Erdoğan Zamur, Gün Matbaacılık employee
40     Eren Erdem, Karşı newspaper former editor-in-chief
41     Erol Yüksel, TRT News Department vice president
42     Erol Zavar, Odak magazine owner and newsroom director
43     Fahri Öztoprak, Cihan/Zaman Samsun correspondent
44     Faruk Akkan, Cihan news agency
45     Ferhat Çiftçi, Azadiya Welat Gaziantep bureau chief
46     Ferhat Parlak, Silvan Mücadele newspaper owner
47     Fevzi Yazıcı, Zaman chief designer
48     Gökçe Fırat Çulhaoğlu, Türksolu columnist
49     Gurbet Çakar, Hevi women’s magazine
50     Gültekin Avcı
51     Habip Güler, Zaman reporter
52     Hakan Aksel, TRT producer-director
53     Hakan Ergün, Azadiya Welat and Özgür Gündem distributor
54     Hakan Taşdelen
55     Halil İbrahim Mert, TRT (Erzurum)
56     Hamit Dilbahar, Azadiya Welat columnist
57     Hamza Günerigök, TRT
58     Hanım Büşra Erdal, Zaman reporter and columnist
59     Harun Çümen, Zaman former managing editor
60     Hasan Bozkurt, Bugün reporter
61     Hasan Duman, Özgürlükçü Demokrasi distributor
62     Hasan Hüseyin Örs, former TRT production-broadcast operator
63     Hasan Taşar, former TRT Ankara reporter
64     Hatice Duman, Atılım newspaper owner and managing editor
65     Haydar Ergül, Demokratik Modernite editor
66     Hicran Ürün, Özgürlükçü Demokrasi editor
67     Hidayet Karaca, Samanyolu Media Group president
68     Hüseyin Aydın, Cihan reporter
69     İbrahim Halil Öztürkeri, former TRT production-broadcast operator
70     İdris Okur, Cihan New Agency Çorum reporter
71     İdris Sayılgan, DİHA
72     İdris Yılmaz
73     İhsan Sinmiş, Gün Matbaacılık employee
74     İhsan Yaşar, Özgürlükçü Demokrasi owner
75     İrfan Karaca, Gün Matbaacılık employee
76     İshak Yasul, Özgürlükçü Demokrasi responsible managing editor
77     İsmail Çoban, former Azadiya Welat managing editor
78     İsmail Ersan, Anatolia news agency
79     İsmail Evren, Nokta magazine news director
80     Kamuran Sunbat, former DİHA Çukurova reporter
81     Kasım Zengin, owner of Gün Matbaacılık
82     Kazım Canlan, Cihan news agency Ankara news director
83     Kemal Sancılı, Özgür Gündem copyrights holder
84     Kenan Karavil, Radyo Dünya editor-in-chief
85     Kibriye Evren, JinNews reporter
86     Mahmut Abay, Gün Matbaacılık employee
87     Mehmet Ali Ay
88     Mehmet Ali Çelebi, Özgürlükçü Demokrasi editor
89     Mehmet Baransu, Taraf columnist/reporter
90     Mehmet Güleş, DİHA
91     Mehmet Gündem
92     Mehmet Kuru, Zaman Eskişehir reporter
93     Mehmet Sıddık damar, DİHA
94     Meltem Oktay, DİHA reporter
95     Metin Arslan, Bugün reporter
96     Mikail Barut, Özgür Halk former editor
97     Miktat Algül, Mezitli FM broadcast coordinator
98     Muhammed Sait Kuloğlu, owner of Subuhaber.com
99     Muhsin Pilgir, Zaman and Cihan news agency
100    Murat Çapan, Nokta
101    Murat Dağdeviren, Demokrat Gebze owner
102    Mustafa Erkan Acar, Bugün news editor
103    Mustafa Gök, Ankara bureau chief for Ekmek ve Adalet magazine
104    Mustafa Gökkılıç, reporter, Radikal and Habertürk TV
105    Mustafa Göktaş, Özgür Gündem Şanlıurfa reporter
106    Mustafa Ünal, Zaman
107    Mutlu Çölgeçen, Millet, newsroom coordinator
108    Mutlu Özay, Cihan reporter
109    Mümtazer Türköne, Zaman columnist
110    Nadir Yücel, Çorum Yıldız local newspaper editor-in-chief
111    Nedim Türfent, DİHA
112    Nizamettin İzgi, Batman newspaper owner
113    Nuh Gönültaş, Bugün columnist
114    Nuri Durna, TRT
115    Nuri Yeşil, Azadiya Welat Dersim bureau chief
116    Nurullah Kaya, Gaziantep Zaman representative
117    Oğuz Usluer, Habertürk former broadcasts coordinator
118    Osman Yakut, Zaman Antalya
119    Ömer Oruç, Cihan newspaper
120    Özcan Keser, TRT reporter
121    Özden Kınık, TRT
122    Pınar Gayıp, ETHA reporter
123    Reyhan Hacıoğlu, Özgürlükçü Demokrasi editor
124    Sadık Demir, Radyo Karacadağ
125    Sait Gürkan Tuzlu, Cihan reporter
126    Salih Turan
127    Sami Tunca, Mücadele Birliği magazine managing editor
128    Semiha Mete, Özgürlükçü Demokrasi reporter/distributor
129    Semiha Şahin, ETHA editor
130    Serhat Şeftali, Zaman regional bureau chief for the Med region
131    Serkan Aydemir, Bitlis Aktüel reporter
132    Sertan Önal, Halkın Günlüğü reporter
133    Seyid Kılıç, TRT News
134    Seyithan Akyüz, Azadiya Welat Adana bureau chief
135    Şahabettin Demir, DİHA reporter
136    Şeref Yılmaz, Irmak TV
137    Turgut Usul, TRT reporter
138    Ufuk Şanlı, former Vatan columnist
139    Uğur Akgül
140    Uğur Yılmaz, former Bitlis Municipality press desk employee
141    Ünal Tanık, Rota Haber editor-in-chief
142    Vahit Yazgan, İzmir Zaman bureau chief
143    Veli Büyükşahin, TV10 executive
144    Veli Haydar Güleç, TV10 executive
145    Yakup Çetin, Zaman reporter
146    Yakup Şimşek, Zaman, marketing director
147    Yalçın Güler, TRT (Erzurum)
148    Yetkin Yıldız, Aktif Haber website editor
149    Yılmaz Kahraman, Özgür Halk editor
150    Ziya Ataman, DİHA reporter

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