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 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

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