new updates

Two less journalists behind bars in Turkey

Women journalists Rojda Oğuz and Beritan Canözar were released from prisons in Van and Diyarbakır provinces on Monday and Tuesday to be tried without arrest. Both journalists work for the all-women news agency JİNHA and have been pending trial under arrest.

Meanwhile, freelance journalist Tuğba Tekerek was briefly detained in Diyarbakır today for taking a picture in the courthouse as she and other journalists were there to support Canözer. While it is forbidden by law to take pictures inside a courtroom during the trial, the rest of the courthouses are not limited; making Tekerek’s brief detainment totally arbitrary.

Insulting Erdoğan” goes abroad

Reuters reported: “Turkey’s Foreign Ministry summoned Germany’s ambassador last week over a satirical broadcast by German television station NDR, Spiegel magazine’s online edition reported on Monday.”

Meanwhile, Turkey’s Foreign Ministry sent a diplomatic note to embassies as to ambassadors monitoring the case hearing of journalists Can Dündar and Erdem Gül after president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s furious stance in the weend.. However, the US and UK stood behind the diplomats by stating attending a then-public trial as observants is within diplomatic procedure. The Foreign Ministry of Italy also stated that their ambassador’s presence there was within the limits of the Vienna Convention.

Government media censors the PM

Confusing freedom of expression with “terrorism” as usual, Turkey also goes after academics as it does with journalists. Unlike the president’s expected reaction to the academics who signed a statement for an end to the bloodshed in eastern Turkey by stating they will “pay the price,”Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu commented on the issue and said at least the arrested three should not be tried while kept in prison. However, as the weekly Nokta pointed it out, prominent pro-government dailies Sabah, Star, Akşam, Yeni Şafak and Yeni Akit did not feature this comment in their related news stories.

Trustees fire Today’s Zaman journalist

One more journalist lost his job after the takeover of the feza journalism by court order as Today’s Zaman managing editor got fired over “abusing the trust of the employer” and “acting against good will and morals as well as the company’s image.”

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journalist arrested in Antalya

Feyyaz İmrak, Antalya Province correspondent for the Dicle News Agency (DİHA), is detained by the police in Antalya on February 11 and arrested by the 1st Antalya Court of Penal peace on February 15 with the accusation of being a member of the outlawed Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK). İmrak is at Antalya Prison, pending trial for no date set.

İmrak is a university student freelancing for DİHA and he was detained alongside other students in scope of a joint anti-terrorism investigation. The testimony of the journalist from the Antalya Chief Prosecutor’s Office show İmrak was questioned on the membership of a student association alongside the social gatherings, protests or various events. İmrak denied all ties to PKK and its related organizations in his testimony and stated that he considers them a terrorist group. İmrak states the mentioned student association remained on paper only and was not active as a terrorist front as far as he knows. İmrak also states in his testimony that he was at the certain places he was asked as a journalist, not as a participant. The prosecutor’s office asked the journalist about the search of his residence also and  journalistic property such as interview notes and photographs taken by İmrak is considered evidence against him.

İmrak denied the accusations against him at the court too, but according to the arrest verdict the Antalya court find there is “reasonable doubt” for arresting him for being member of a terrorist organization. Article 100 of the Turkish Law for Criminal Procedure allows courts to make arrests on “doubts” which is commonly used for journalist arrests.

three more journalists arrested in the first half of May

Turkish journalist Hayri Tunç is arrested in Istanbul on February 3 over his social media posts of which some consist of his own work. Tunç, writer and correspondent of the news blog jiyan.org, was detained at his home in Istanbul by the police on February 2, Tuesday and arrested by an Istanbul court on Wednesday for “terrorism propaganda” for the outlawed groups Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) and Group of Communities in Kurdistan (KCK). The journalist is at Silivri Prison in Istanbul, pending trial. Jiyan Correspondent Hayri Tunç Arrested

According to the questioning document from the Istanbul Chief Prosecutor’s Office, Tunç was asked about his Facebook and Twitter posts. While the document does not include the details or screen shots of the related posts, Tunç explains the posts in his testimony as his own journalistic work including videos of social protests intervened by the police, other news content uploaded by others and shared by him, personal pictures, personal comments and song lyrics. Tunç said in his prosecutor’s testimony: “I am a journalist. I observed the accusations. These are journalistic activities. I did not make propaganda of anyone” and pleaded innocent.

However, the prosecutor transferred Tunç to court with a demand of arrest for “[terrorist] organization membership” and “propaganda” and the 3rd Istanbul Court of Penal Peace arrested the journalist according to the arrest order. The court dismissed the arrest demand for organization membership for lack of evidence but found the journalist’s posts sufficient for “reasonable doubt” to arrest him over “propaganda.”

Tunç’s lawyer Ahmet Baran Çelik said that his client was detained two months ago with “propaganda,” “praising a crime and criminal” and “membership” accusations again with similar social media posts as evidence. Çelik said Tunç was released on parole under the condition of presenting signature three times a week at a police station. In the meantime, this current investigation has started. Columnist Hayri Tunç released as Jiyan.org news portal blocked

Turkish authorities also detained and arrested journalist Nuri Akman, Van Province office chief for the Dicle News Agency (DİHA), at Malatya Province on February 2 for “[terrorist] organization membership” according to press reports. DİHA Reporter Arrested

Also, on February 12, DİHA correspondent Nazım Daştan, taken into custody in Antep, has been arrested on charges of “propagandizing for the terrorist organization” in his Facebook postings. DİHA Correspondent Nazım Daştan Arrested

updates from Turkey

  • Today’s Zaman reported: Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş has announced that the country has 67 journalists in jail, and further claimed that they were not sent to prison due to their journalistic activities but rather due to other crimes.Responding to questions during a meeting of Parliament’s Planning and Budget Commission on Tuesday night, Kurtulmuş said: “Among the 67 journalists who are jailed, only five of them have press cards. And only one of them has been convicted, and it is on charges of a minor offense, not for journalistic activity. Out of the 67 journalists, 37 of them have been jailed over minor offenses. I would like to say that journalists should not be jailed during their trial due to their journalistic activities.” Deputy prime minister says 67 journalists in jail in Turkey
  • Today’s Zaman reported: Journalist Kamil Maman appeared before the court on Thursday on a variety of charges including “establishing a terrorist organization for the purpose of committing crime” and “supporting a terrorist group.”The journalist is also accused of “resisting detention,” “aiding and abetting a terrorist group,” “supporting a terrorist group” and “attending protests with a gun.”Maman, who was working for the Bugün daily when he was detained, appeared before the İstanbul 13th High Criminal Court. In one of his tweets he posted on Thursday, Maman ironically wrote that he is being tried for forming a one-person terrorist organization. Journalist Maman standing trial on charge of forming terrorist group
  • Evrensel reported on January 28, at 7.21 PM local time that Dicle News Agency (DİHA) reporter Bilal Seçkin is detained by the police from his house in northeastern city of Kars. The reason of the house raid which included some Kurdish politicians’ detainment also, is unknown yet.Kars’ta DİHA Muhabiri Bilal Seçkin gözaltına alındı
  • Local sources at southeastern Turkey reported by quoting JİNHA that two journalists, Murat Bay (sendika.org) and a foreign journalist named Alex Alfonso were detained in Diyarbakır. Sur’da ‘yasak’sız mahalleye baskın 2 gazeteci gözaltına alındı
  • Today’s zaman reported: “Ahmet Şengüler, the only suspect arrested for allegedly attacking Hürriyet daily columnist Ahmet Hakan Coşkun, a widely read columnist known for his critical stance toward the government, has been released.” Arrested suspect linked to attack on journalist Coşkun released

 

Media reaction to PF groups’ Silivri visit

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HDN reported: “A coalition from the world’s most prestigious press freedom organizations condemned the isolation of arrested Turkish journalists Can Dündar and Erdem Gül on Jan. 27, holding a vigil in front of Istanbul’s Silivri prison to show their support.”

International press freedom groups condemn isolation of arrested Turkish journalists (Hürriyet Daily News)

International Journalism Organizations in Silivri for Dündar, Gül (Bianet)

Int’l press groups call on Turkey to allow visits to jailed journalists Dündar, Gül (Today’s Zaman)

Turkish prosecutors seek life terms for two anti-Erdogan journalists (Yahoo by AFP)

Uluslararası basın örgütleri Can Dündar ve Erdem Gül’e tecriti Silivri’de kınadı (Hürriyet)

Uluslararası ifade ve basın özgürlüğü kuruluşları: Tutuklu gazetecileri serbest bırakın (Evrensel)

Silivri’deki umut nöbetine uluslararası basın kuruluşları devam etti (Cihan News Agency)

Int’l press groups call on Turkey to allow visits to jailed journalists (Cihan News Agency)

Dünyanın önde gelen gazetecilik örgütleri Silivri’de toplandı, ardından yazılı açıklama yapıldı (Doğan News Agency/DHA)

Uluslararası Gazetecilik Örgütleri’nden Önce Açıklama Sonra Umut Nöbeti… (VIDEO from Doğan News Agency/DHA)

Uluslararası basın örgütleri ‘umut nöbeti’nde (Dicle News Agency/DİHA)

Dünyanın önde gelen gazetecilik örgütleri Silivri`de toplandı, ardından yazılı açıklama yapıldı (Sözcü)

 

Short updates

Turkey government insists there are no journalists in prison

Turkey government insists that there are no journalists in prison who were put behind bars due to their work.

CHP Parliamentary Deputy Aydın Uslupehlivan has asked a parliamentary question to the government about how many journalists are in jail. According to reports from January 6, the Justice Ministry gave the usual answer that there are none and provided a list of terrorism, obtaining secret documents and other charges and convictions against the arrested journalists.

Adalet Bakanlığı: Cezaevlerinde salt gazetecilik faaliyetinden dolayı hükümlü ve tutuklu bulunmuyor

Justice Ministry Bekir Bozdağ and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu have recently spoken on the issue; Doğan News Agency (DHA) has released the following story on December 25, 2015:

None of the journalists currently jailed in Turkey have been prosecuted due to charges related to their profession, Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ has said.

“There are detained or convicted journalists in prisons in Turkey. There have been judgments made concerning claims about these journalists during both the investigation and trial stages. When I look at the claims made during the investigation stage, there is no journalist prosecuted for reporting in Turkey. When you look at convicted journalists, there is no journalist convicted for reporting either. However, the crimes that are imputed are different crimes,” Bozdağ said.

His remarks came after journalists had said appeals for the release of prominent journalists Can Dündar and Erdem Gül, who have been jailed on charges of “aiding terrorist organizations,” have been constantly refused, while opposition parties have urged the government to try them without placing them in pre-trial detention.

Cumhuriyet daily’s editor-in-chief Dündar and Ankara bureau chief Gül were arrested on Nov. 26 on charges of aiding an armed terrorist organization and committing political or military espionage over reports in Cumhuriyet on the interception of trucks belonging to the National Intelligence Organization (MİT). The articles claimed that the trucks, intercepted in January 2014, were shipping weapons to jihadist groups fighting across the border in Syria.

The imprisonment of Dündar and Gül created an outcry inside and outside Turkey, with leading international press organizations alerting the Council of Europe on Turkey’s state of media freedom on Nov. 26.

Last week, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said he was “in principle” against arrest pending trial unless absolutely necessary.

“This is a civilized country and my understanding of justice is in line with this. Someone is guilty only after a final verdict is given. There is no need to punish them before the decision is given” Davutoğlu said, while stressing that he “cannot intervene in the judicial process” as that would be a violation of the separation of powers.

Justice Minister insists journalists not jailed because of profession

 

Two more Kurdish journalists arrested

(January 11, 2016) Turkey arrested two more Kurdish journalists in the last seven days and detained three more on duty who were later released. Nedim Oruç, reporter for the pro-Kurdish Dicle News Agency (DİHA) was arrested in Şırnak on January 6 for “propaganda” of a terrorist organization and Rojda Oğuz, reporter for the pro-Kurdish, all female Jin News Agency (JİNHA) was arrested on January 8 in Van for “membership” of a terrorist organization. The journalists, as usual, is accused of being connected to the banned Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK).

Clashes between the security forces of Turkey and Kurdish insurgents at urban areas have been ongoing for months; adding up causalities from both sides alongside civilians as documented by local and international human rights groups. CPJ observed Kurdish journalists operating at hot zones have been targeted by authorities.

Oruç was taken into custody by force and beaten during the apprehension from his home according to eyewitnesses cited in the related reports of DİHA. Oruç was detained with dozens of other people in scope of door to door operations the police have been practicing recently and his whereabouts were unknown before the incident turned into a trending topic on twitter and other journalists put pressure on the authorities by making telephone calls. The journalist’s camera, computer and handwritten notes were confiscated by the police and he was questioned about those. Kunur defended himself by saying he was there to report the clashes and recorded the people digging trenches to avoid the authorities entering the area. According to Konur’s testimony he went to a relative’s house in the neighborhood when the clashes intensified and he was taken into custody from there. The journalist was transferred from the prosecutor’s office with a demand of arrest with both “membership” and “propaganda” charges. The Silopi Court of Penal Peace decided that there is not enough evidence for “strong reasonable doubt” on membership but arrested him on the propaganda accusation. He is at Şırnak Prison, pending trial.

Oğuz is a university student alongside being a reported of JİNHA and was detained alongside other students according to the reports of the agency. She was questioned about her social media posts which included news from JİNHA and some demonstrations she had attended which she has stated that she was there to cover the events as a journalist as her police questioning documents inspected by CPJ show. Oğuz also denied being at some of these demonstrations at all. The journalist is also questioned about phone recordings she has made from her cellphone, which were tapped in by the police. These phone recordings were used as evidence that Oğuz was in connection of a student organization in connection with outlawed Kurdish movements but Oğuz denies such a connection. There is also the testimony of a secret witness about her being involved with terrorist activities which has been used against the journalist The Van 2nd Court of Penal Peace decided that the social media posts, phone recordings, the presence at demonstrations and the secret witness testimony were sufficient for “strong reasonable doubt” for the accusation of membership and arrested her. She is at Van prison, pending trial.

İdris Yılmaz is released

Bianet reported on January 21: “DİHA reporter İdris Yılmaz arrested as he was following up report in Van has been released by the court pending a trial from the case he was being tried over “Propagandizing for [illegal] organization” Yılmaz will be tried without arrest for the “propaganda” and “insulting” the president charges.

DİHA Reporter İdris Yılmaz Released