Freedom of Expression and the Press in Turkey – 172

Hasan Cemal appears in court for 2015 article; jailed journalist İdris Yılmaz given 6-year prison term




Mezopotamya news agency (MA) reporter Esra Solin Dal is facing up to 15 years in prison on the charge of “membership in a terrorist group” in a recently issued indictment.
The indictment, accepted by the 10th High Criminal Court of Diyarbakır, comes on the heels of an investigation into the journalist on the allegation of “membership in the KCK/TM.” Dal was taken into custody in October during a sweeping operation targeting journalists and politicians across nine provinces as part of the investigation.
The indictment alleges that Dal “works for the Press Committee of the KCK” and accuses Dal of “anti-government journalism” and “making harsh accusations against the Turkish Armed Forces,” seeking up to 15 years in prison for the journalist.
Murat Aksoy released on probation
Journalist Murat Aksoy, who was sent back to prison on 22 November to serve the remaining part of a sentence he was given in March after it was upheld by an appellate court in October, was released from prison on 4 January 2019, after spending a month and a half in a prison in Istanbul.
Aksoy will be subject to probation for the remaining part of the 2 year and 1 month sentence he was given on the charge of “knowingly and willingly aiding an armed terrorist organization while not being part of its hierarchical structure” at the end of a major media trial publicly known as the “FETÖ media trial.”
Ahmet Altan’s lawyer files daily petition with Constitutional Court
The lawyer representing imprisoned novelist and journalist Ahmet Altan has launched a campaign in which she will be filing a petition with the Constitutional Court every day until the top court rules on Altan’s individual application, pending before the court since November 2016.
Altan’s lawyer Figen Çalıkuşu filed the first petition as part of the campaign on 4 January.
In the petition, Çalıkuşu stresses that her client has been deprived of his liberty for 846 days, and that Altan’s individual application, referred to the Constitutional Court’s Plenary on 4 July 2018, has been pending before the Plenary for the past six months.
A report about Çalıkuşu’s campaign for Ahmet Altan can be accessed here.
Court refuses to lift judicial control measures for Akpınar and Gezen
An Istanbul judgeship on 4 January rejected an objection filed by veteran actors Metin Akpınar and Müjdat Gezen for the lifting of the judicial control measures imposed on them.
Akpınar and Gezen were taken to the Istanbul Anadolu Courthouse on 24 December to give their statements as part of an investigation on account of their remarks during a recent talk show broadcasted on an opposition TV station. The judgeship they were referred to released both actors under judicial control measures in the form of reporting to the nearest police station every week and give their signature and a ban on traveling abroad.
The Istanbul Anadolu 4th Judgeship of Peace upheld the judicial control measures imposed by the 3rd Judgeship on Akpınar and Gezen.
Hasan Cemal appears before court for 2015 article
T24 columnist Hasan Cemal, the founding president of the P24 Platform for Independent Journalism, on 3 January appeared before an Istanbul court for the first hearing of a trial where he is accused of “disseminating propaganda for a terrorist organization” in an article he penned in December 2015.
Cemal’s lawyer Fikret İlkiz submitted to the 36th High Criminal Court of Istanbul a written statement in which he explained that in the said article, Cemal recounted his observations and the interviews he conducted in Silvan, a district of the southeastern province of Diyarbakır. Cemal had interviewed Gülsuma Güçer, Mehmet Ali Dünser and the then co-mayor of Silvan, Zuhal Tekiner, for his article. Tekiner, Dünser and Güçer stood trial before the 4th High Criminal Court of Diyarbakır on charges stemming from their remarks in Cemal’s article. Güçer and Tekiner were acquitted of the charges while Dünser’s file was separated. İlkiz said that since the defendants in the Diyarbakır case were acquitted of similar accusations Cemal should be acquitted too.
Hasan Cemal also addressed the court during the hearing, rejecting the accusation and requesting to be acquitted.
Cemal said: “I wrote four books and thousands of columns and news stories about the Kurdish issue, and this article was one of them. It was a piece of writing that advocated peace and denounced death. This article is part of my journalistic activity and freedom of expression. Neither of these is a crime. I have never spread propaganda for any terrorist organization. I request to be acquitted of the charges in relation to this article, which falls within the limits of freedom of expression.”
Addressing the court after Cemal, his lawyer said that according to Turkey’s Press Law the statute of limitations for pressing charges against the article has expired and requested Cemal’s immediate acquittal.
The prosecution then requested that the court reject Cemal and his lawyer’s request for acquittal on the grounds that “a trial by court was required to legally determine whether or not the accusation against Cemal amounted to crime.” The prosecution also requested that the court demand court minutes and reasoned judgments of the trial overseen by the 4th High Criminal Court of Diyarbakır.
Issuing an interim ruling at the end of the hearing, the court rejected Cemal’s request for immediate acquittal and ruled to request the court minutes and reasoned judgments of the trial overseen by the 4th High Criminal Court of Diyarbakır and set 16 April 2019 as the date for the second hearing.
Jailed journalist İdris Yılmaz given 6-year prison sentence
A Turkish court overseeing a trial into jailed journalist İdris Yılmaz on 3 January convicted him of “membership in a terrorist organization,” handing down the journalist a prison sentence of 6 years and 3 months.
The 5th High Criminal Court of Van sentenced Yılmaz at the end of the second hearing of the case. The journalist’s lawyers requested in the previous hearing that Yılmaz be brought to the courtroom for the final hearing to make his defense statement, but their request was rejected by the court.
Addressing the trial court from the Elazığ No. 1 Maximum Security Prison via the courtroom video-conferencing system SEGBİS during the hearing, Yılmaz said that before being imprisoned, he received numerous threats for his reporting and that this case too targeted journalism.
Yılmaz’s defense statement was interrupted by the chief judge several times during the hearing. Additionally, due to technical problems with SEGBİS, Yılmaz’s statement could not be clearly heard in the courtroom.
In a statement to the Evrensel daily, Yılmaz’s lawyer Zelal Pelin Doğan said that they filed an individual application before the Constitutional Court on behalf of Yılmaz on 31 December, claiming that the journalist’s imprisonment violated his rights to liberty and security and a fair trial.
One more academic convicted for signing peace petition
One more academic who signed 2016’s Academics for Peace petition was convicted of “disseminating propaganda for a terrorist organization.” On 3 January, the 36th High Criminal Court of Istanbul gave the academic a prison sentence of 1 year and 3 months and deferred the sentence.
TV10 executives spend one year in jail without indictment
Veli Büyükşahin and Veli Haydar Güleç, two executives of the shuttered television station TV10 who were arrested and jailed pending trial in January 2018, have been behind bars for a year without an indictment.
TV10 Board Chairman Büyükşahin and programmer Güleç were jailed pending trial on the charge of “membership in a terrorist organization.” They were among 15 individuals arrested as part of an investigation launched in 2014 into the political academies under the now-defunct Peace and Democracy Party (BDP).
Members of the Pir Sultan Abdal Cultural Association (PSAKD) and relatives of those in detention on remand gathered in front of the Silivri Prison in Istanbul on 3 January to read out a press statement in which they called attention to the fact that no indictment has been drafted for a year. The group also read out messages sent by Büyükşahin, Güleç and TV10 camera operator Kemal Demir, who has been jailed as part of a separate file.
Academic Bülent Şık to appear in court for article series
Academic Bülent Şık, who is also a columnist for Bianet, will be standing trial for a series of articles he penned in April for the Cumhuriyet daily.
Şık’s article series was about carcinogenic pesticides found in agricultural products in Turkey.
The court case comes on the heels of an investigation into Şık that was launched upon a complaint filed by the Ministry of Health. The ministry claimed that Şık’s articles “revealed confidential information” and that he “obtained and disclosed classified information.”
The indictment, drafted by the anti-terror investigation bureau under the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, accuses Şık of “disclosing restricted information,” “procuring restricted information” and “disclosing confidential information obtained by virtue of duty.”
The indictment seeks up to 12 years imprisonment for Şık.
Free Journalists Initiative issues 2018 report
The Free Journalists Initiative (ÖGİ) has announced its latest annual report of rights violations targeting journalists in Turkey.
The report was made public during a press conference on 2 January at the Diyarbakır branch of the Human Rights Association (İHD).
The report revealed that throughout 2018:
141 journalists were taken into custody,
64 journalists were jailed pending trial,
new court cases were launched against 71 journalists,
521 journalists stood trial,
121 journalists were given jail terms or fines,
2 television stations were fined,
access to the websites of 14 news agencies and newspapers was banned,
4 media companies were closed down,
1 newspaper and 1 printing press were appointed trustees by the government,
1 journalist was deported,
54 journalists were fired,
1 journalist was murdered,
42 journalists were freed from prison.
According to the list of journalists in prison as compiled by the initiative, 171 journalists are currently in prison, either in pre-trial detention or serving a sentence.
Objection to dismissed case against Evrensel columnist rejected
The Supreme Court of Appeals has rejected an appeal against the dismissal of a compensation case against Evrensel columnist Özcan Yaman, filed by Bilal Erdoğan — the son of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
An investigation was launched into Yaman on the allegation that he “insulted Bilal Erdoğan and violated the confidentiality of an investigation” in a column he penned on 4 April 2014. When no charges were filed at the end of the investigation, Bilal Erdoğan filed a compensation case against Yaman, seeking TL 50,000 in non-pecuniary damages. When that case was dismissed by the Istanbul 2nd Civil Court of First Instance, Erdoğan’s lawyer Ahmet Özel appealed the ruling before the Supreme Court of Appeals. Rendering its judgment concerning Özel’s November 2015 application, the 4th Civil Chamber of the Supreme Court of Appeals rejected the appeal in a majority decision and upheld the lower court’s decision.
18,000 individuals face legal action for social media posts in 2018
Turkey’s Interior Ministry issued a press statement in which it shared statistics about security operations conducted between 1 January 2018 and 31 December 2018.
According to the statement, published on 31 December on the ministry’s official website, some 42,406 social media accounts were subjected to scrutiny and 18,376 individuals faced legal action in 2018 for “terrorism propaganda, praising terrorist organizations, publicly declaring affiliation with terrorist organization, inciting the public to hatred and animosity, insulting state officials, targeting the unity of the state and public security, or for hate speech” on social media.
List of journalists and media workers in prison
Following Murat Aksoy’s release on probation on 4 January 2019, at least 160 journalists and media workers are still 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                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              Erol Yüksel, TRT News Department vice president
44              Erol Zavar, Odak magazine owner and newsroom director
45              Fahri Öztoprak, Cihan/Zaman Samsun correspondent
46              Faruk Akkan, Cihan news agency
47              Ferhat Çiftçi, Azadiya Welat Gaziantep bureau chief
48              Ferhat Parlak, Silvan Mücadele newspaper owner
49              Fevzi Yazıcı, Zaman chief designer
50              Gökçe Fırat Çulhaoğlu, Türksolu columnist
51              Gurbet Çakar, Hevi women’s magazine
52              Gültekin Avcı
53              Habip Güler, Zaman reporter
54              Hakan Aksel, TRT producer-director
55              Hakan Ergün, Azadiya Welat and Özgür Gündem distributor
56              Hakan Taşdelen
57              Halil İbrahim Mert, TRT (Erzurum)
58              Hamit Dilbahar, Azadiya Welat columnist
59              Hamza Günerigök, TRT
60              Hanım Büşra Erdal, Zaman reporter and columnist
61              Hasan Bozkurt, Bugün reporter
62              Hasan Duman, Özgürlükçü Demokrasi distributor
63              Hasan Hüseyin Örs, former TRT production-broadcast operator
64              Hasan Taşar, former TRT Ankara reporter
65              Hatice Duman, Atılım newspaper owner and managing editor
66              Haydar Ergül, Demokratik Modernite editor
67              Hicran Ürün, Özgürlükçü Demokrasi editor
68              Hidayet Karaca, Samanyolu Media Group president
69              Hüseyin Aydın, Cihan reporter
70              İbrahim Halil Öztürkeri, former TRT production-broadcast operator
71              İdris Okur, Cihan New Agency Çorum reporter
72              İdris Sayılgan, DİHA
73              İdris Yılmaz
74              İhsan Sinmiş, Gün Matbaacılık employee
75              İhsan Yaşar, Özgürlükçü Demokrasi owner
76              İrfan Karaca, Gün Matbaacılık employee
77              İshak Yasul, Özgürlükçü Demokrasi responsible managing editor
78              İsmail Çoban, former Azadiya Welat managing editor
79              İsmail Ersan, Anatolia news agency
80              İsminaz Temel, ETHA editor
81              Kamuran Sunbat, former DİHA Çukurova reporter
82              Kasım Zengin, owner of Gün Matbaacılık
83              Kazım Canlan, Cihan news agency Ankara news director
84              Kemal Demir, TV 10
85              Kemal Özer, Evrensel
86              Kemal Sancılı, Özgür Gündem copyrights holder
87              Kenan Karavil, Radyo Dünya editor-in-chief
88              Kibriye Evren, JinNews reporter
89              Mahmut Abay, Gün Matbaacılık employee
90              Mehmet Ali Ay
91              Mehmet Ali Çelebi, Özgürlükçü Demokrasi editor
92              Mehmet Baransu, Taraf columnist/reporter
93              Mehmet Emin Sümeli, Gün Matbaacılık employee
94              Mehmet Güleş, DİHA
95              Mehmet Gündem
96              Mehmet Kuru, Zaman Eskişehir reporter
97              Mehmet Sıddık damar, DİHA
98              Meltem Oktay, DİHA reporter
99              Metin Arslan, Bugün reporter
100            Mikail Barut, Özgür Halk former editor
101            Miktat Algül, Mezitli FM broadcast coordinator
102            Muhammed Sait Kuloğlu, owner of
103            Muhsin Pilgir, Zaman and Cihan news agency
104            Murat Çapan, Nokta
105            Murat Dağdeviren, Demokrat Gebze owner
106            Musa Kaya, Gün Matbaacılık employee
107            Mustafa Erkan Acar, Bugün news editor
108            Mustafa Gök, Ankara bureau chief for Ekmek ve Adalet magazine
109            Mustafa Gökkılıç, reporter, Radikal and Habertürk TV
110            Mustafa Göktaş, Özgür Gündem Şanlıurfa reporter
111            Mustafa Ünal, Zaman
112            Mutlu Çölgeçen, Millet, newsroom coordinator
113            Mutlu Özay, Cihan reporter
114            Mümtazer Türköne, Zaman columnist
115            Nadir Yücel, Çorum Yıldız local newspaper editor-in-chief
116            Nedim Türfent, DİHA
117            Nizamettin İzgi, Batman newspaper owner
118            Nuh Gönültaş, Bugün columnist
119            Nuri Durna, TRT
120            Nuri Yeşil, Azadiya Welat Dersim bureau chief
121            Nurullah Kaya, Gaziantep Zaman representative
122            Oğuz Usluer, Habertürk former broadcasts coordinator
123            Osman Yakut, Zaman Antalya
124            Ömer Oruç, Cihan newspaper
125            Özcan Keser, TRT reporter
126            Özden Kınık, TRT
127            Pınar Gayıp, ETHA reporter
128            Reyhan Çapan, Özgür Gündem managing editor
129            Reyhan Hacıoğlu, Özgürlükçü Demokrasi editor
130            Rojhat Doğru, reporter for Gale Kurdistan TV
131            Sadık Demir, Radyo Karacadağ
132            Sait Gürkan Tuzlu, Cihan reporter
133            Sami Tunca, Mücadele Birliği magazine managing editor
134            Seda Taşkın, Mezopotamya News Agency reporter
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