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02 November

Freedom of Expression and the Press in Turkey - 266

Journalists Abdurrahman Gök, Nurcan Yalçın face “terrorism” charges; Hayri Tunç given 2-year sentence; access to JinNews, ETHA, Yeni Demokrasi blocked

https://expressioninterrupted.com/


Journalist Gök faces “terrorism” charges in new indictment

Journalist Abdurrahman Gök is charged with “membership of a terrorist organization” and “terrorism propaganda” in a new indictment, where his phone conversations with his sources, his reports and social media posts are held as evidence against him.

Gök was arrested in October 2018 in Diyarbakır as part of the investigation. 

The indictment was recently accepted by the Diyarbakır 5th High Criminal Court, which will hold the first hearing of Gök’s trial on 23 February 2021.

Access to JinNews, ETHA and Yeni Demokrasi blocked

Access to the websites of JinNews, Etkin news agency (ETHA) and Yeni Demokrasi newspaper was blocked by a decision of the Van 3rd Criminal Judgeship of Peace, issued on 28 October 2020. The most recent access ban orders for ETHA and JinNews were issued on 22 and 23 October, respectively.

Access ban on Sendika.Org finally lifted 

The Gölbaşı Criminal Judgeship of Peace has lifted the five-year long access ban on the news portal Sendika.org after the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) asked Turkey to submit its defense concerning the decision to continue to block access to the website. The Constitutional Court had held in a judgment in March that the access ban on the entire website was a violation of freedom of expression and asked the judgeship to revoke the access ban.

The judgeship also lifted the access ban orders issued on 25 July 2015 on a total of 118 websites and social media accounts, including the websites of the shuttered Özgür Gündem newspaper and Dicle news agency.

Turkey launches investigation against Charlie Hebdo 

The Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office has launched an investigation against the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo on the allegation of “insulting the president” over the magazine’s recent cartoon depicting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Court issues arrest warrant for journalist Burhan Ekinci

Journalist Burhan Ekinci is charged with “terrorism propaganda” over his social media posts in a new indictment issued by the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office. The indictment was recently accepted by the 30th High Criminal Court of Istanbul, which issued an arrest warrant for Ekinci, who is currently based in Germany.

Investigation against Ahmet Kanbal dismissed

A criminal investigation against Mezopotamya news agency (MA) reporter Ahmet Kanbal on the allegation of “terrorism propaganda” was dismissed by the Mardin Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office. The investigation was initially launched in Şanlıurfa over a news report Kanbal shared on social media and the file was later transferred to Mardin.

Journalist Nurcan Yalçın faces new indictment

Journalist Nurcan Yalçın is accused of “membership of a terrorist organization” and “terrorism propaganda” in a new indictment issued by the Diyarbakır Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office. The indictment was prepared in connection with an investigation against the Rosa Women’s Association, based in Diyarbakır. Yalçın’s membership in the Rosa Women’s Association and testimony by a secret witness taken by the Diyarbakır Police are held as evidence against the journalist in the indictment.

Necla Demir acquitted of “insulting the president”

Gazete Karınca news portal’s former publisher Necla Demir appeared before the Bakırköy 8th Criminal Court of First Instance on 28 October 2020 for the final hearing of her trial on the charge of “insulting the president.” The court acquitted the journalist, who was on trial over two reports published in October 2016 on the news portal.

A report about the hearing, monitored by P24, can be accessed here.

Ahmet Altan’s trial on “insult” charge adjourned until February

The third hearing of jailed journalist and novelist Ahmet Altan’s trial on the charge of “insulting a public official” took place on 27 October 2020 at Istanbul’s Anadolu 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance.

Altan is on trial for allegedly insulting former General Prosecutor of the Supreme Court of Appeals Abdurrahman Yalçınkaya in an article he penned in March 2008 for his regular column in the now-defunct Taraf newspaper.

The case was relaunched after a previous sentence Altan had been given by the Istanbul 32nd Criminal Court of First Instance for “insulting the president” was upheld by a regional court of appeals in 2018.

In its interim ruling, the court decided to explore whether the 32nd Criminal Court of First Instance judgment has been reviewed by the Supreme Court of Appeals and adjourned the trial until 18 February 2021.

Cumhuriyet reporter Hazal Ocak acquitted

The second hearing of Cumhuriyet reporter Hazal Ocak’s trial on the charge of “insulting a public official” was held on 27 October 2020 at the Istanbul 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance. Ocak was on trial over a January 2020 report about a plot of land allegedly purchased by Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak near the planned route of Canal Istanbul.

Presenting his final opinion, the prosecutor stated that Ocak’s report should be considered within the scope of press freedom and requested Ocak’s acquittal. The court ruled in line with the prosecutor’s final opinion and acquitted Ocak.

A report about the hearing, monitored by P24, can be accessed here.

Hakan Aygün’s trial adjourned until January

Journalist Hakan Aygün’s trial on the charge of “insulting religious values” resumed on 27 October 2020 at the Bodrum 3rd Criminal Court of First Instance. Ruling to wait for the completion of the examination of the digital equipment confiscated from Aygün, the court adjourned the trial until 19 January 2021.

A report about the hearing, monitored by P24, can be accessed here.

Trial of Cem Şimşek adjourned until January

A trial where Evrensel daily’s former responsible editor Cem Şimşek is accused of “insulting the president” resumed on 27 October 2020 at the Bakırköy 27th Criminal Court of First Instance. Accepting the letters of excuse submitted by the defense and the complainant, the court adjourned the trial until 19 January 2021. Şimşek is on trial over a news report published in Evrensel daily about German political cartoonists’ depictions of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Dokuz8 News reporter Fatoş Erdoğan briefly detained

Fatoş Erdoğan, a reporter for Dokuz8 News, was taken into custody on 25 October 2020 as she was covering the police intervention on a rally by a group of leftist youth organizations in Kadıköy, Istanbul. Erdoğan was released after being held in the police vehicle for a while. Around 30 other people were arrested by police during the intervention.

Jailed journalist Aziz Oruç’s wife to stand trial over social media posts

Hülya Oruç, the wife of jailed journalist Aziz Oruç, will stand trial on the charge of “incitement to hatred and enmity” over her social media posts about insufficient measures against the spread of Covid-19 in prisons. The first hearing of Oruç’s trial will be held on 18 January 2021 at Diyarbakır’s 5th Criminal Court of First Instance.

Hülya Oruç was arrested on 30 April over her social media posts. The criminal judgeship of peace she was referred to released Oruç under house arrest and a ban on traveling abroad.

Journalist Hayri Tunç handed down 2-year sentence

Gazete Fersude news portal Co-Editor-in-Chief Hayri Tunç appeared before the Istanbul 22nd High Criminal Court on 23 October 2020 for the final hearing of his trial on the charge of “terrorism propaganda.”

After hearing Tunç’s defense statement, the court sentenced the journalist to 2 years in prison. The sentence was not deferred. Tunç was on trial for his Instagram posts in which he shared news photos he had taken in 2015 and 2016.

At least 87 journalists and media workers in prison 

As of 30 October 2020, at least 87 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.



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