Freedom of Expression and the Press in Turkey – 173
General Prosecutor says “coup” charge should be dropped in Altans case; Pelin Ünker, Perihan Mağden, Tunca Öğreten sentenced on “insult” charges
The Office of the General Prosecutor of the Supreme Court of Appeals has requested the reversal of the appellate court’s verdict in the case against jailed novelist and journalist Ahmet Altan, his brother, professor of economics and longtime newspaper columnist Mehmet Altan, veteran journalist Nazlı Ilıcak, and their three co-defendants.
The judicial opinion by the General Prosecutor, submitted on 8 January to the 16th Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Appeals, said the Altan brothers and Ilıcak should have been charged with “aiding a terrorist organization without being its member,” instead of the much serious charge of “attempting to overthrow the constitutional order.”
A report about the judicial opinion can be accessed here.
“KCK press trial” adjourned until May
The “KCK press trial,” part of a series of criminal cases in connection with the Kurdish Communities Union (KCK) investigation, resumed on 11 January at the 3rd High Criminal court of Istanbul.
Forty-six journalists and media workers stand accused of “membership in a terrorist group” and “leadership of a terrorist group” in the case.
During Friday’s hearing, monitored by P24, defense lawyer Özcan Kılıç requested that the court inquire about the trial into the officers who conducted the investigation that led to the ongoing case. Accepting Kılıç’s request, the court adjourned the trial until 9 May 2019.
Kibriye Evren remains in pre-trial detention after 2nd hearing
Kibriye Evren, a reporter for the female news collective Jin News, who has been in pre-trial detention since October, appeared before the 5th High Criminal Court of Diyarbakır on 10 January for the second hearing of her trial on the charges of “membership in a terrorist organization” and “disseminating propaganda for a terrorist organization.”
Her lawyers requested that Evren be acquitted of the charges and released. The prosecution requested the continuation of her detention.
In its interim ruling, the court ordered the continuation of Evren’s detention and ruled not to hear the anonymous witness “Cesur Yürek” on the grounds that they could not be reached and adjourned the case.
Journalist Rojhat Doğru ordered to remain behind bars
Journalist Rojhat Doğru, who was jailed pending trial on 5 December on the charge of “membership in a terrorist group,” appeared in the first hearing of his trial on 10 January.
The charges against Doğru in the case file are “disrupting the unity of the state” and “willful injury.”
Addressing the 8th High Criminal Court of Diyarbakır via the courtroom video-conferencing system SEGBİS during the hearing, Doğru rejected the accusations. His lawyer, Resul Tamur, said the accusations against his client were based on Doğru’s journalistic activity and requested his acquittal and release.
The court ordered the continuation of Doğru’s pre-trial detention and adjourned the trial.
Perihan Mağden, Tunca Öğreten fined for “insulting the president”
Author Perihan Mağden and journalist Tunca Öğreten were each fined TL 7,000 for “insulting the president” on 10 January by an Istanbul court.
This was the 13th hearing of the case, where the accusation stemmed from an interview with Mağden, posted on the news portal Diken.com.tr on 14 September 2015.
The Istanbul 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance did not defer the sentences imposed on Mağden and Öğreten.
Journalists Orhan Şahin and Mehmet Çağlar Tekin, the two other defendants in the case who were on trial for posting the same interview on the website of the Yurt newspaper, were acquitted.
Trial into Meşale Tolu adjourned until May
The trial where 27 people including Etkin news agency (ETHA) reporter Meşale Tolu and her husband, Suat Çorlu, a member of the central executive board of the Socialist Party of the Oppressed (ESP), stand accused of terrorism-related charges, resumed on 10 January at the 29th High Criminal Court of Istanbul.
In its interim ruling at the end of the hearing, the court ruled to hear a secret witness and adjourned the trial until 23 May 2019.
Ferhat Tunç’s trial on insult charge gets under way
A new trial into musician Ferhat Tunç on the charge of “insulting the president” got under way on 9 January at the Büyükçekmece 7th Criminal Court of First Instance. Tunç is accused in the case for his social media posts. The musician did not attend the hearing because he was abroad. The court adjourned the case until 15 April 2019.
11 more academics convicted for signing peace petition
Eleven more academics who were among the signatories of 2016’s Academics for Peace petition were given jail terms this week on the charge of “disseminating propaganda for a terrorist organization.”
On 8 January, the 37th High Criminal Court of Istanbul handed down academic Y.A. a prison sentence of 1 year and 3 months. The sentence was deferred.
On 9 January, the same court sentenced academics Haldun Gülalp, Nihal Saban, Egemen Kepekçi, Utku Uraz Aydın, F.K.Ö., Ceren Akçabay, E.Ö., Hediye Esra Arcan and Bülent Eken to 15-month prison terms. All of the sentences were deferred.
Also on 9 January, the 36th High Criminal Court of Istanbul handed down academic Esra Arsan a 15-month prison sentence. The court ruled to defer the sentence by 2 years, during which time Arsan will be subject to probation.
Pelin Ünker given jail term for coverage of “Paradise Papers” leaks
An Istanbul court on 8 January convicted journalist Pelin Ünker of “insulting a public official” and “libel” over the 2017 publication of two news stories about the “Paradise Papers” leaks in the daily Cumhuriyet. The case was filed by the lawyers representing Speaker of the Parliament and former Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım and his sons.
The 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance of Istanbul sentenced Ünker to a prison term of 1 year, 1 month and 15 days for “libel” and an additional fine of TL 8,660 in non-pecuniary damages for the “insult” charge.
A report about the hearing, monitored by P24, can be found here.
Mehmet Gündem ordered to remain in pre-trial detention
Jailed journalist Mehmet Gündem, a former columnist for the daily Milliyet, appeared in an Istanbul court on 8 January for the third hearing of his trial on the charge of “membership in a terrorist group.”
P24 monitored the hearing at the 35th High Criminal Court of Istanbul.
The prosecution requested at the beginning of the hearing that the court await the outcome of the forensic examination on Gündem’s digital equipment and the continuation of his detention on the grounds of “strong suspicion of crime.” Gündem is accused of using ByLock, an encrypted mobile messaging application purported to be exclusively used by the members of the Fethullah Gülen movement, which the government accuses of orchestrating the failed coup of July 2016.
Addressing the court for his defense statement following the prosecutor, Gündem rejected the accusations and requested to be released.
Gündem’s lawyers also requested for their client to be released pending trial. Macit Ceylan, one of the defense lawyers, also told the court that ByLock allegation against his client was full of contradictions and not based on substantial evidence.
Issuing an interim ruling at the end of the hearing, the court ordered the continuation of Gündem’s pre-trial detention and adjourned the trial until 14 March 2019.
Journalist Harun Çümen remains behind bars after 1st hearing
Harun Çümen, the former responsible managing editor of the shuttered daily Zaman, on 8 January appeared before an Istanbul court for the first hearing of his trial on the charge of “membership in a terrorist group.”
In its interim ruling at the end of the hearing, the 32nd High Criminal Court of Istanbul ordered the continuation of Çümen’s pre-trial detention and set 28 March 2019 as the date for the next hearing in the case.
A report about the first hearing, monitored by P24, can be found here.
“RedHack trial” adjourned until April
The trial into journalists Tunca Öğreten, Mahir Kanaat, Ömer Çelik, Metin Yoksu, Derya Okatan and Eray Sargın on account of their coverage of Minister Berat Albayrak’s emails that were leaked by the hacker group Redhack resumed on 8 January at the 29th High Criminal Court of Istanbul.
Öğreten, Okatan, Kanaat and their lawyers were in attendance in the courtroom during the hearing, which was monitored by P24. Çelik and Yoksu, who were not in Istanbul, addressed the court via SEGBİS.
The prosecution requested the continuation of the judicial control measures imposed on the journalists. Addressing the court following the prosecutor, the journalists requested for their digital equipment confiscated during the investigation to be returned, their international travel ban to be lifted, and to be granted exemption from personal attendance in court.
In its interim ruling at the end of the hearing, the court rejected the requests and adjourned the trial until 16 April, awaiting an expert report concerning the digital equipment.
Eren Erdem rearrested after court overseeing “Karşı trial” orders his release
The “Karşı newspaper trial,” where 11 defendants, including the former publisher of the shuttered daily, Turan Ababey, and the newspaper’s former employees, including its one-time editor-in-chief Eren Erdem, stand accused of various criminal charges on account of their work with the newspaper, resumed on 7 January in Istanbul.
Erdem, who is also a former main opposition CHP MP, has been jailed pending trial since late June as part of this case. The case, overseen by the 23rd High Criminal Court of Istanbul, is the outcome of an investigation into Karşı that was launched on the grounds that the newspaper had revealed leaked tapes as part of the graft probes targeting the government in 2013, publicly known as “17-25 December.”
Erdem addressed the court during the hearing from the Silivri Prison via SEGBIS.
The prosecution submitted their final opinion of the case during the hearing, requesting that Erdem be given up to 19 years in prison in total on the charges of “aiding an armed terrorist organization without being its member” and “violating the confidentiality [of an investigation] by way of revealing the identity of an anonymous witness.” They also requested the continuation of Erdem’s detention on remand.
Requesting the acquittal of defendants Turan Ababey, Kutlu Esendemir and Mehmet Bozkurt of the charge “knowingly and willingly aiding an armed terrorist organization,” the prosecution also asked that the files of defendants Değer Özergün, Ufuk Emin Köroğlu, Mehmet Aydoğmuş, Murat Kazancı and Emrah Direk, whose statements have yet to be taken because they are at large, be separated.
Issuing an interim ruling at the end of the hearing, the court ruled to release Eren Erdem under judicial control measures and adjourned the trial until 1 March for the final defense statements in response to the prosecutor’s final opinion to be prepared.
However, the Office of the Chief Public Prosecutor of Istanbul filed an objection to Erdem’s release pending trial the same day and the 24th High Criminal Court of Istanbul, the next court of first instance, issued an arrest warrant against Erdem.
On 8 January, the 24th High Criminal Court held an interim hearing, where Erdem and his lawyers gave their statements in response to the arrest warrant. The court ruled with a majority opinion at the end of the hearing to send Erdem back to prison.
Jail sentence sought for publisher of shuttered Kurdish daily
A newly drafted indictment seeks that Ramazan Ölçen, the former publisher of the shuttered Kurdish language daily Azadiya Welat, be given 15 years in prison on the charge of “membership in a terrorist group.”
The indictment, accepted by the 11th High Criminal Court of Diyarbakır, accuses Ölçen of “acting in line with the objectives of a terrorist group under the guise of legitimate activity.”
List of journalists and media workers in prison
As of 11 January 2019, at least 162 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 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 Çapan, Özgür Gündem managing editor
131 Reyhan Hacıoğlu, Özgürlükçü Demokrasi editor
132 Rojhat Doğru, reporter for Gale Kurdistan TV
133 Sadık Demir, Radyo Karacadağ
134 Sait Gürkan Tuzlu, Cihan reporter
135 Sami Tunca, Mücadele Birliği magazine managing editor
136 Seda Taşkın, Mezopotamya News Agency reporter
137 Semiha Mete, Özgürlükçü Demokrasi reporter/distributor
138 Semiha Şahin, ETHA editor
139 Serhat Şeftali, Zaman regional bureau chief for the Med region
140 Serkan Aydemir, Bitlis Aktüel reporter
141 Serkan Canbaz, TRT Ankara reporter, news editor
142 Sertan Önal, Halkın Günlüğü reporter
143 Seyid Kılıç, TRT News
144 Seyithan Akyüz, Azadiya Welat Adana bureau chief
145 Sezai Yavaş, TRT Diyarbakır deputy regional director
146 Şahabettin Demir, DİHA reporter
147 Şeref Yılmaz, Irmak TV
148 Turgut Usul, TRT reporter
149 Ufuk Şanlı, former Vatan columnist
150 Uğur Akgül
151 Uğur Selman Kelekçiler, Gün Matbaacılık employee
152 Ünal Tanık, Rota Haber editor-in-chief
153 Vahit Yazgan, İzmir Zaman bureau chief
154 Veli Büyükşahin, TV10 executive
155 Veli Haydar Güleç, TV10 executive
156 Yakup Çetin, Zaman reporter
157 Yakup Şimşek, Zaman, marketing director
158 Yalçın Güler, TRT (Erzurum)
159 Yetkin Yıldız, Aktif Haber website editor
160 Yılmaz Kahraman, Özgür Halk editor
161 Zehra Doğan, Jinha
162 Ziya Ataman, DİHA reporter