Freedom of Expression and the Press in Turkey – 185

Journalist Haydar Ergül released after 15 months in pre-trial detention; nine defendants in Özgür Gündem solidarity trial convicted of “propaganda”



A trial in which Haydar Ergül, an editor with the periodical Demokratik Modernite, who had been in detention on remand since January 2018, is among 19 defendants, resumed on 5 April in Istanbul.
Ergül is charged with “membership in a terrorist group” in the case, which is overseen by the 22nd High Criminal Court of Istanbul. Among Ergül’s co-defendants in the case are members and administrators of People’s Democratic Party (HDP) and the Democratic Regions Party (DBP).
This was the eighth hearing in the trial. P24 monitored the hearing, where Abdullah Geldi, one of the eight jailed defendants in the case, was in attendance in the courtroom as well as three unjailed defendants. Haydar Ergül and his co-defendant Ercan Doğru addressed the court from the Silivri Prison via the courtroom video-conferencing system SEGBİS.
Early in the hearing, the prosecution requested the continuation of the detention of all jailed defendants.
Addressing the court for his defense statement during the hearing, Ergül said he was placed in pre-trial detention without any concrete evidence against him. Noting that he has been in prison for 15 months, Ergül said he could not personally attend courtroom hearings due to health-related problems. Ergül requested to be released.
Issuing an interim ruling at the end of the hearing, the court ruled to release Ergül, Doğru and Geldi pending the conclusioın of the trial. The court imposed on all three judicial control measures in the form of an international travel ban and reporting to the nearest police station once a month to give their signature. The court set 28 June as the date for the next hearing.
Journalist Sertaç Kayar’s trial adjourned until June
A trial in which freelance journalist Sertaç Kayar faces up to 22 years in prison on the charge of “establishing and leading a terrorist organization” resumed on 5 April at the 10th High Criminal Court of Diyarbakır.
P24 monitored the hearing, where Kayar and his lawyer Şivan Cemil Özen were in attendance. Issuing an interim ruling at the end of the hearing, the court adjourned the trial until 26 June, awaiting the testimony of a witness mentioned in the case file, to be heard by a High Criminal Court in the Çorum province.
This was the third hearing in the case, where Kayar is accused based on his coverage of demonstrations and public statements in Diyarbakır.
Journalist Oktay Candemir taken into custody
Journalist Oktay Candemir was taken into custody on 5 April during an early morning police raid on his house in the province of Van. Police searched Candemir’s apartment and took him to the Van Police Department. The grounds for Candemir’s arrest was not immediately available.
Compensation case against Çiğdem Toker to continue in July
Çiğdem Toker, a columnist for the Sözcü daily, appeared before an Ankara court on 4 April for the second hearing of a lawsuit filed by a Turkish mining company, which is seeking a record TL 1.5 million in compensation for a column Toker penned for the Cumhuriyet daily in October 2017.
Toker and her lawyer were in attendance for the hearing at the 13th Civil Court of First Instance of Ankara. In their interim ruling, the court decided to request from the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure the official records of the tender Toker wrote about in her column and adjourned the lawsuit until 9 July.
Alican Uludağ and Duygu Güvenç’s trial adjourned
The second hearing of a trial where journalists Alican Uludağ and Duygu Güvenç stand accused of “publicly degrading the judiciary” took place on 4 April at the 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance of Istanbul.
Uludağ and Güvenç are accused on account of their reporting in the Cumhuriyet newspaper on the developments surrounding US pastor Andrew Brunson, who remained in detention in Turkey for two years before being released in October.
The trial was adjourned until 20 June because the judge was on leave.
Nine convicted of “propaganda” in “Özgür Gündem solidarity trial”
An Istanbul court on 3 April convicted nine people of “disseminating propaganda for a terrorist group” in a trial where 13 defendants, most of whom are journalists, were accused because they joined in a solidarity campaign to support the Özgür Gündem daily before it was closed down in 2016.
The 14th High Criminal Court of Istanbul convicted journalists Hüseyin Aykol, Faruk Eren, Ertuğrul Mavioğlu, Fehim Işık, Celal Başlangıç, Öncü Akgül, İhsan Çaralan, Celalettin Can and Dilşah Kocakaya of the “propaganda” charge and sentenced them to a total of 14 years and 3 months in prison. The court deferred the sentences of six defendants while Akyol, Can and Kocakaya’s sentences were not deferred.
A detailed report about the hearing, monitored by P24, can be found here.
Former publisher of Özgür Gündem faces 14 criminal cases
A total of 14 criminal cases were filed during a single week in March against the former publisher of the shuttered newspaper Özgür Gündem, the Mezopotamya news agency (MA) reported this week.
Ziya Çiçekçi faces a prison term of more than 100 years in the 14 cases combined, MA reported on Friday.
The cases were launched after an appellate court upheld a conviction for Çiçekçi on the charge of “propaganda” in a previous trial, where the accusation stemmed from columns and news stories published in Demokratik Ulus, the weekend supplement of Özgür Gündem.
Çiçekçi is accused of “propaganda” for articles published by Özgür Gündem in 13 of the new cases, while in one case he is charged with “insulting a public official.”
“Bakur trial” to resume on 2 May
The trial into journalist Ertuğrul Mavioğlu and filmmaker Çayan Demirel, co-directors of the documentary Bakur (North), resumed on 3 April at the 2nd High Criminal Court of Batman.
Both Mavioğlu and Demirel are accused of “disseminating propaganda for a terrorist group,” a charge stemming from their film.
This was the fourth hearing in the case. Lawyers representing Mavioğlu and Demirel submitted to the court letters of excuse for non-attendance. The court adjourned the trial until 2 May, when the panel is expected to render its verdict after hearing the final defense statements.
Evrensel columnist Karataş’s trial adjourned until September
Yusuf Karataş, a columnist for Evrensel daily, appeared in a Diyarbakır court on 3 April for the fifth hearing of his trial on the charge of “establishing and leading a terrorist group.”
Karataş faces up to 22.5 years in prison in the trial, one of many similar criminal cases where the accusations stem from audio recordings of speeches delivered by participants during Democratic Society Congress (DTK) rallies. Karataş was arrested and jailed pending trial in July 2017 as part of an investigation into DTK. He was released pending trial in September 2017.
P24 monitored the hearing at the 9th High Criminal Court of Diyarbakır, where Karataş and his lawyer Semir Karadaş were in attendance.
Addressing the court during the hearing, Karataş explained that he was a columnist for Evrensel and a politician with the Emek (Labor) Party. He said his communication with fellow columnists or politicians were made to look in the indictment as though they were conversations with terrorist group members. Karataş requested the court to lift his international travel ban because it prevented him from attending international events he is invited as a politician and a columnist.
In its interim ruling, the court rejected Karataş’s request and adjourned the trial until 11 September, awaiting the completion of the forensic examination of audio tapes by the Council of Forensic Medicine in Istanbul.
Journalist Ayşegül Doğan’s trial adjourned until September
The trial of journalist Ayşegül Doğan, a former program coordinator for the shuttered television station İMC TV, who is also charged with “establishing or leading an armed organization,” also resumed on 3 April at the 9th High Criminal Court of Diyarbakır.
This was the second hearing in the case, where Doğan’s interviews as a journalist with DTK administrators are held as evidence against her. The court adjourned the trial until 11 September, awaiting a comparative forensic examination of audio recordings in the case file and a sample of Doğan’s voice.
MA reporter Ahmet Kanbal briefly detained
Mezopotamya news agency reporter Ahmet Kanbal was taken into custody on 3 April in the Nusaybin district of the Mardin province where he was covering a news story. Kanbal was arrested because he had failed to show up to give his statement as part of a court case. Kanbal was released later in the day by the Nusaybin 1st Criminal Court of First Instance, to which he gave his statement.
List of journalists and media workers in prison
Following Haydar Ergül’s release pending trial on 5 April, at least 144 journalists and media workers remain behind bars in Turkey’s prisons, 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     Eren Erdem, Karşı newspaper former editor-in-chief
40     Erol Yüksel, TRT News Department vice president
41     Erol Zavar, Odak magazine owner and newsroom director
42     Fahri Öztoprak, Cihan/Zaman Samsun correspondent
43     Faruk Akkan, Cihan news agency
44     Ferhat Çiftçi, Azadiya Welat Gaziantep bureau chief
45     Ferhat Parlak, Silvan Mücadele newspaper owner
46     Fevzi Yazıcı, Zaman chief designer
47     Gökçe Fırat Çulhaoğlu, Türksolu columnist
48     Gurbet Çakar, Hevi women’s magazine
49     Gültekin Avcı
50     Habip Güler, Zaman reporter
51     Hakan Aksel, TRT producer-director
52     Hakan Ergün, Azadiya Welat and Özgür Gündem distributor
53     Hakan Taşdelen
54     Halil İbrahim Mert, TRT (Erzurum)
55     Hamit Dilbahar, Azadiya Welat columnist
56     Hamza Günerigök, TRT
57     Hanım Büşra Erdal, Zaman reporter and columnist
58     Harun Çümen, Zaman former managing editor
59     Hasan Bozkurt, Bugün reporter
60     Hasan Duman, Özgürlükçü Demokrasi distributor
61     Hasan Hüseyin Örs, former TRT production-broadcast operator
62     Hasan Taşar, former TRT Ankara reporter
63     Hatice Duman, Atılım newspaper owner and managing editor
64     Hicran Ürün, Özgürlükçü Demokrasi editor
65     Hidayet Karaca, Samanyolu Media Group president
66     Hüseyin Aydın, Cihan reporter
67     İbrahim Halil Öztürkeri, former TRT production-broadcast operator
68     İdris Okur, Cihan New Agency Çorum reporter
69     İdris Sayılgan, DİHA
70     İdris Yılmaz
71     İhsan Yaşar, Özgürlükçü Demokrasi owner
72     İshak Yasul, Özgürlükçü Demokrasi responsible managing editor
73     İsmail Çoban, former Azadiya Welat managing editor
74     İsmail Ersan, Anatolia news agency
75     İsmail Evren, Nokta magazine news director
76     Kamuran Sunbat, former DİHA Çukurova reporter
77     Kazım Canlan, Cihan news agency Ankara news director
78     Kemal Sancılı, Özgür Gündem copyrights holder
79     Kenan Karavil, Radyo Dünya editor-in-chief
80     Kibriye Evren, JinNews reporter
81     Mehmet Ali Ay
82     Mehmet Ali Çelebi, Özgürlükçü Demokrasi editor
83     Mehmet Baransu, Taraf columnist/reporter
84     Mehmet Güleş, DİHA
85     Mehmet Gündem
86     Mehmet Kuru, Zaman Eskişehir reporter
87     Mehmet Sıddık damar, DİHA
88     Meltem Oktay, DİHA reporter
89     Metin Arslan, Bugün reporter
90     Mikail Barut, Özgür Halk former editor
91     Miktat Algül, Mezitli FM broadcast coordinator
92     Muhammed Sait Kuloğlu, owner of
93     Muhsin Pilgir, Zaman and Cihan news agency
94     Murat Çapan, Nokta
95     Murat Dağdeviren, Demokrat Gebze owner
96     Mustafa Erkan Acar, Bugün news editor
97     Mustafa Gök, Ankara bureau chief for Ekmek ve Adalet magazine
98     Mustafa Gökkılıç, reporter, Radikal and Habertürk TV
99     Mustafa Göktaş, Özgür Gündem Şanlıurfa reporter
100    Mustafa Ünal, Zaman
101    Mutlu Çölgeçen, Millet, newsroom coordinator
102    Mutlu Özay, Cihan reporter
103    Mümtazer Türköne, Zaman columnist
104    Nadir Yücel, Çorum Yıldız local newspaper editor-in-chief
105    Nedim Türfent, DİHA
106    Nizamettin İzgi, Batman newspaper owner
107    Nuh Gönültaş, Bugün columnist
108    Nuri Durna, TRT
109    Nuri Yeşil, Azadiya Welat Dersim bureau chief
110    Nurullah Kaya, Gaziantep Zaman representative
111    Oğuz Usluer, Habertürk former broadcasts coordinator
112    Osman Yakut, Zaman Antalya
113    Ömer Oruç, Cihan newspaper
114    Özcan Keser, TRT reporter
115    Özden Kınık, TRT
116    Pınar Gayıp, ETHA reporter
117    Reyhan Hacıoğlu, Özgürlükçü Demokrasi editor
118    Sadık Demir, Radyo Karacadağ
119    Sait Gürkan Tuzlu, Cihan reporter
120    Sami Tunca, Mücadele Birliği magazine managing editor
121    Sedat Laçiner, Haberdar news portal
122    Semiha Mete, Özgürlükçü Demokrasi reporter/distributor
123    Semiha Şahin, ETHA editor
124    Serhat Şeftali, Zaman regional bureau chief for the Med region
125    Serkan Aydemir, Bitlis Aktüel reporter
126    Sertan Önal, Halkın Günlüğü reporter
127    Seyid Kılıç, TRT News
128    Seyithan Akyüz, Azadiya Welat Adana bureau chief
129    Şahabettin Demir, DİHA reporter
130    Şeref Yılmaz, Irmak TV
131    Turgut Usul, TRT reporter
132    Ufuk Şanlı, former Vatan columnist
133    Uğur Akgül
134    Uğur Yılmaz, former Bitlis Municipality press desk employee
135    Ünal Tanık, Rota Haber editor-in-chief
136    Vahit Yazgan, İzmir Zaman bureau chief
137    Veli Büyükşahin, TV10 executive
138    Veli Haydar Güleç, TV10 executive
139    Yakup Çetin, Zaman reporter
140    Yakup Şimşek, Zaman, marketing director
141    Yalçın Güler, TRT (Erzurum)
142    Yetkin Yıldız, Aktif Haber website editor
143    Yılmaz Kahraman, Özgür Halk editor
144    Ziya Ataman, DİHA reporter