VICE reported: “VICE News journalist Mohammed Ismael Rasool has been released on bail in Turkey after spending more than four months behind bars on terrorism charges.”
Turkey released three journalists from prison today: Cevheri Güven (Nokta), Murat Çapan (Nokta) and Vildan Atmaca (JİNHA).
Cihan News Agency reported: “Nokta magazine Editor-in-Chief Cevheri Güven and Managing Editor Murat Çapan were released pending trial by the İstanbul 14th High Criminal Court after the first hearing of their trial at the İstanbul Courthouse on Tuesday.”
The two Nokta editors were arrested on November 2, 2015. They will be tried without arrest.
Atmaca was arrested beside İdris Yılmaz from DİHA over their social media posts in early December. Both journalists were accused of PKK propaganda and Yılmaz was also accused of insulting the president. Bianet reported: “JINHA correspondent Vildan Atmaca, who had been taken into custody and arrested while following up news, will be on trial without arrest. The next hearing will be held on January 21, 2016.”
Meanwhile, the accusation of insulting the president was dropped against Yılmaz but he remains under arrest due to the propaganda accusation. Local press reported that the investigation against the journalist is complete and a court date will be set for 2016.
Turkey authorities arrested three Kurdish journalists on the 1st, 15th and 19th of December 2015. The journalists work for pro-Kurdish news outlets and are accused of being a member of, aiding or making the propaganda for the banned Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK). There are no court dates set for any of the three cases which points that the journalists are imprisoned indefinitely until the prosecutors come up with indictments at future dates unknown.
Southeastern Turkey is not tense only by the Syrian civil war and the refugee crisis but it has been hot with clashes recently; since the police and the military are fighting PKK sympathizer Patriotic Revolutionary Youth Movement, or YDG-H, at residential areas and journalists on the street are being rounded up and hurt by security forces.
Zeki Karakuş, owner of local news website Nusaybin Haber, was detained and arrested in Nusaybin District of Mardin Province on December 1 according to Cihan News Agency. Karakuş is at Mardin prison in, pending trial. Karakuş’s lawyer Gülsitan Duran said that her client received a call from the police that there is a search warrant about him and he is expected to testify. They went to the Nusaybin authorities and the journalist was arrested for “making propaganda of a terrorist organization via press” bu the Nusaybin Court of Penal Peace. The lawyer said there is a court order of secrecy over the investigation therefore they do not know what evidence is offered against Karakuş or what the exact charges are.
Deniz Babir, reporter for the Kurdish language daily Azadiya Welat, was detained at Sur District of Diyarbakır on December 15 and arrested on the same day as reported by local sources. Babir was following the clashes when he was detained by the police. Four other journalists were detained also at the hot zone alongside Babir but they were later released. Reporter Ferit Dere, also with Azadiya Welat, told the Dicle News Agency (DİHA) that the cops threatened them while in custody with comments such as: “one day you will be killed in confusion” and “you will see the power of the Turk.” Babir was carrying a false identification as he was a fugitive from military service which is mandatory in Turkey. His lawyer Resul Tamur said while his client is guilty on terms of carrying a false identification; he was doing his job at the time as he was arrested and was questioned about journalism; including the contents of his notebook. Dere also told DİHA that they were questioned about why are they are reporting from the hot zone and the police confiscated their cameras, note books and voice recorders even after they were let go. The verdict of the 2nd Diyarbakır Court of Penal Peace shows Babir plead guilty only for the false identification accusation but he was arrested on the “strong suspicion” of being a member of the PKK. Babir is at Diyarbakır D Type prison; pending trial.
Beritan Canözer, reporter for the all female, pro-Kurdish Jin News Agency, or JİNHA; was detained by plain clothes cops while covering social unrest also in Diyarbakır on December 16; local press reported. Canözer spent more than 48 hours under detention and arrested by a Diyarbakır court on December 19. According to reports, Canözer was transferred to the court after the prosecution demanded her arrest for “knowingly and willingly aiding a [terrorist] organization” and the night court of Saturday evening complied. The reports also stated that social media activities of Canözer happened to be the evidence against her. Turkish authorities have arrested two other Kurdish journalists, one of them again from JİNHA, under similar conditions last month.
- Hürriyet Daily News reported: “A local court has decided to confiscate books by two prominent Turkish journalists after they were found during an operation on a cell where suspected militants of the outlawed Patriotic Revolutionary Youth Movement (YDG-H) were detained.” Three books, two by Hasan Cemal and one by Tuğçe Tatari are now likely to be confiscated from bookstores unless the journalists’ lawyers appeal against the decision is approved. Court rules to confiscate books by prominent journalists & Hasan Cemal ve Tuğçe Tatari yasaklı oldu!
- Some local news sites reported that journalist Zeki Karakuş (who owns a local news website named Nusaybin Haber with the address nusebin.com focusing on the Nusaybin District of Mardin) was arrested on December 1 for “making propaganda of a terrorist organization” and sent to Mardin Prison. Further information is not currently available due to hot clashes in the area. Nusaybin’de Yerel Gazeteci Karakuş tutuklandı
- Today’s Zaman reported: “Former Today’s Zaman Editor-in-Chief Bülent Keneş was released after being briefly detained by police officers from the İstanbul Police Department’s Counterterrorism Unit at İstanbul Atatürk Airport early on Friday morning.”Former Today’s Zaman Editor-in-Chief Keneş released after brief detention
- Three journalists from daily BirGün received 11 month suspended jail sentence for “Murderer, Thief Erdoğan” headline. BirGün journalists get suspended sentence for insulting Erdoğan
- The cops who have battered a group of journalists while detaining currently arrested journalists İdris Yılmaz and Vildan Atmaca have filed a criminal complaints for resisting arrest. A total of four cops filed the complaint against Yılmaz, Atmaca and two others. The first hearing of the trial will be heard on January 26, 2016. Polisler, darp ederek gözaltına aldıkları gazetecilere dava açtı
- The police has hit DİHA journalist Beritan İralan on the leg with a gas pallet on purpose and then confiscated her medical report about the injury; according to the daily Evrensel. The journalist was covering the protests in Diyarbakır on December 9. DİHA muhabiri polisin gaz fişeğiyle yaralandı
- The daily Taraf is not paying regular wages to its staff for months now and currently fired five journalists illegally; according to the condemning statement by a local journalists’ syndicate. Çalışanların hakkını da sendikasını da yok sayan Taraf’ı kınıyoruz
- Reuters reported: “Turkey’s communications technologies authority, the BTK, has fined micro blogging site Twitter 150,000 lira ($51,000.) for not removing content it says is “terrorist propaganda”, a BTK official told Reuters on Friday.” Turkey fines Twitter for failure to remove ‘terrorist propaganda’: official
- Today’s Zaman reported: “İstanbul police on Saturday raided and searched the house of Samanyolu Broadcasting Group General Manager Hidayet Karaca, who has been behind bars in İstanbul’s Silivri Prison for almost a year, in what his lawyers said was an unlawful move to disturb the journalist’s family.” Police raid, search jailed journalist Karaca’s family home
- Hürriyet Daily News reported: “Seven window panels at the Doğan Media Center building in Ankara, which hosts the Ankara offices of daily Hürriyet and Hürriyet Daily News, broke at around 5 p.m. on Dec. 12. Windows of Hürriyet’s Ankara building shatter
- Bianet reported: “İstanbul 14th High Criminal Court has ordered the new case with 26 suspects regarding the murder of Hrant Dink to be combined with the main case file on the Istanbul 5th High Criminal Court.” Criminal Charges against Public Officers Combined with Primary Case on Dink Case
Can Dündar and Erdem Gül, chief editor and Ankara representative for the daily Cumhuriyet are arrested on November 26 due to their coverage of Turkey allegedly sending weapons to Syria under the cover of humanitarian aid. The journalists are accused of exposing secret documents and espionage for the benefit of the alleged Fethullah Gülen Terrorist Organization/Parallel State Structure (FETÖ/PYD).
Dündar and Gül were called to testify on November 26 about the allegations regarding the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) transporting weapons and munition to Syria by truckloads under the cover of humanitarian aid to Syrian Turkmens. Two trucks were stopped by the gendarmerie in southern Hatay and Adana provinces under the orders of local prosecutors on January 1 and 19 of 2014. The related gendarmerie and judicial personnel who were involved in the stopping of the trucks are also facing terrorism charges. Cumhuriyet‘s headline story of May 29, 2015 was on the truck stopped in Adana: “Here are the weapons that Erdoğan says do not exist.”
Both Dündar and Gül denied the accusations brought against them alongside any ties to the alleged FETÖ/PYD organization and they said their work is journalism, not espionage. This did not stop the court from arresting Dündar and Gül with “strong suspicion that a crime was committed” for “knowingly and willingly aiding an armed terrorist organization,” “terrorist organization membership” and “obtaining and exposing secret documents of the state for means of political and military espionage.” The journalists are sent to Silivri Prison, pending trial with no court date set. Cumhuriyet‘s legal team appealed the arrest verdict on November 30.
Despite the video and photographic proof, the authorities claim the visuals are forged; deny weapons were sent to Syria but insist that the contents of the trucks load is a matter of national security as it was mentioned in the prosecution questioning documents.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has filed a personal criminal complaint on the Cumhuriyet coverage: “I also filed a lawsuit. What only matters to them is casting a shadow on Turkey’s image. I suppose the person who wrote this as an exclusive report will pay a heavy price for this… I will not leave go of him,” Erdoğan has said on live TV on June 1, 2015; implying Dündar, who has his byline on the MİT Trucks story. Alican Uludağ, correspondent for the Cumhuriyet, shared the document of Erdoğan’s complaint on social media on the day his colleagues were arrested and an Istanbul prosecutor started an investigation against him according to reports.
However, Erdoğan recently said: “what if the trucks were filled with weapons?” and Dündar has quoted him in his defense at court.
The allegations regarding the MİT Trucks were first reported by the daily Aydınlık months ago but no legal action has been taken against them. Aydınlık has criticized Cumhuriyet on May 29, 2015 for calling their reporting “exclusive” and stated that they have covered the trucks story 16 months ago; on January 21, 2014. Dündar has also stated in his court defense that he was not the first journalist to report on the MİT trucks. However, according to reports, a trial was started against the leftist news portal Sol Haber about the same coverage and the portal’s former responsible editor Hafize Kazcı will be heard by court for “violating the secrecy of an investigation,” facing one to three years in prison.
Also, Cumhuriyet Board Chair Akın Atalay tweeted on November 30 that financial inspectors will go over 2010 books of the daily which they have done 2.5 years ago. Financial inspection as an intimidation tool is a known method of the government; best known as the Doğan Holding tax fine incident in 2009.
Two journalists from pro-Kurdish news agencies in eastern Turkey city of Van were arrested over social media posts which are considered as “terrorist propaganda” and “insulting the president.” Idris Yılmaz from Dicle News Agency (DİHA) and Vildan Atmaca from Women’s News Agency (JİNHA) were detained by the police at Erciş District of Van on Friday and arrested by court on Saturday. The journalists are accused of being pro-Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) which is recognized as a terrorist organization by Turkey. Yılmaz is reported injured as he was hurt in the ribs while being detained by the police and denied proper medical attention.
The journalists were detained as a part of a larger group on Friday. Who exactly were in this group which included 10 journalists according to reports is not clear. Some local reports, including the pro-PKK Firat News Agency (ANF) stated the journalists were covering clashes between the police and Kurdish rebels but Yılmaz’s testimony says they were drinking tea at a cafe as a group of journalists from DİHA, VAN TV and IMC TV when police approached him and said he will be detained for “producing biased news.” Other journalists did not want to give up their friend which ended in police shooting in the air to disperse the crowd around and detaining more people (see the video in the first hyperlink). Other detainees were released on Saturday but Yılmaz and Atmaca were transfered to the court with a demand of arrest from the prosecutor.
According to police, prosecutor’s office and court documents CPJ inspected, both journalists are questioned about social media posts; some of which are years old and others not owned.
Yılmaz is accused of terrorism propaganda as being the owner of a news source called Erciş Haberi (Erciş News) but he stated that he has no ties to it and as far as he knows it is a Facebook group that features posts from numerous users. According to visuals featured in the testimony document, Facebook lists the name İdris Yılmaz as the Chief Editor of Erciş Haberi and ercishaberi.com as the media organ’s website. Yılmaz said he used to have a DİHA subscriber news website with the same name at the mentioned address but it was inactive for months and he knows neither who runs the Facebook group nor who put his name there. Yılmaz is also asked about some pro-PKK posts from his own Facebook account and but he denied making propaganda of the organization. Yılmaz has also shared a caricature of President Pecep Tayyip Erdoğan defecating on Turkey. Yılmaz did not comment on that question at the police questioning and argued it is not Erdoğan in the caricature when asked about it again at the prosecutor’s office.
Atmaca asked the authorities some of the posts she is questioned about are two years old and why is she being questioned about them now when detained for a totally different reason. Atmaca was asked about sharing posts such as the picture of a woman YPG (PKK’s Syrian wing) guerrilla, a woman Kurdish journalist noted as a PKK member and a quote of convicted PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan. She was also asked about two tweets from October 14, 2015 in which she accuses the police and the police chief firing on the people of Erciş with real bullets. Atmaca denied accusations of PKK propaganda and said she does not remember the incident regarding the tweets but she had no intention of provoking the people as it was mentioned in the question.
Erciş Court of Penal Peace arrested Yılmaz and Atmaca with “a strong suspicion” that they made terrorism propaganda and Yılmaz additionally insulted the president.
It was reported that a group of 10 journalists were detained and harnessed in Van on Friday where clashes between Kurdish rebels and security forces are ongoing as many other eastern and southeastern cities of Turkey.
While the names of the 10 journalists were not listed in the press properly, it was reported on Saturday that two journalists from the group were arrested while the others were released.
According to Bianet, İdris Yılmaz (Dicle News Agency/DİHA) and Vildan Atmaca (Women’s News Agency/JİNHA) were arrested on Saturday. Yılmaz is accused of insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan by sharing a caricature of him on social media while Atmaca is accused of terrorism propaganda for sharing the photograph of a Kurdish journalist killed by the ISIS.
Cevheri Güven and Murat Çapan, chief editor and news editor of the weekly news magazine Nokta, were detained by the police in Istanbul on November 2 and arrested by court the day after for “provoking the people to armed resistance against the government” (Turkish Penal Code TCK 313/1). The offense is punishable by 15 to 20 years jail time if the case makes it to trial with this charge standing and the journalists found guilty.
The court also practiced the Article 100 of the Law of Criminal Procedure for the cause of arrest as it is common with such cases. It is a lengthy article listing the justifications of arrest before trial and allowing arrest for charges such as those against the “national security” and “constitutional order.”
The cover for the November 2 issue of Nokta was first shared on the social media accounts of the magazine on the election night November 1; after it became clear that the Justice and Development Party scored a surprise win and received almost half the vote against expectations. The cover features a daily calendar sheet for November 2, transparent over President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s face, and the red line below reads “The beginning of the Turkey civil war.”
According to the documents shared by Nokta, Istanbul Prosecutor Umut Tepe sent an order to the police to detain Çapan and Güven to be questioned about the cover according to Turkish Penal Code 214/1-2 for provoking the people to commit crimes. According to the documents shared by Nokta, the Chief Prosecutor’s Office of Istanbul also applied to the 5th Istanbul Court of Penal Peace and got a confiscation order for the printed copies of the last issue on November 2. Nokta’s website is also blocked from access in Turkey according a November 3 tweet from their account. Reports say the 5th Ankara Court of Penal Peace ordered the block for noktadergisi.net.
The journalists were detained at their offices on Monday and transferred to the 8th Istanbul Court of Penal Peace on Tuesday with a demand of arrest from Tepe. According to court documents shared by Nokta, Güven and Çapan both denied wrongdoing. They said the cover is about the expected chaos atmosphere in post-election Turkey according to the violent statements from both the government and the opposition; adding that it is not possible to provoke the people to start a civil war with a magazine cover. However the court said both suspects are responsible according to the 11th Article of the Press Law and there is strong suspicion of guilt according to the presented content; arresting the journalists as the details are explained above.
This latest incarnation of the 1980’s legendary weekly news magazine Nokta is a publication known to be close to the Fethullah Gülen.Therefore, Nokta is fiercely against the government and received harsh reactions from the government and the judicial system whether it be raided offices, blocked news, confiscated issues and detained journalists in the past months.
“Bülent Keneş, the editor-in-chief of Turkey’s leading English daily, Today’s Zaman, was arrested on Friday in İstanbul over his tweets allegedly insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan” Today’s zaman reported.
Avcı and seven police personnel were detained in Izmir and Istanbul by anti-terror police on the 18th and they (all but one cop who was released after police questioning) were brought to Istanbul according to reports. The on-duty court was the 2nd Istanbul Court of Penal Peace which the suspects were transferred with a demand of arrest by the prosecution. The court arrested Avcı and 3 others. There is no known date for trial. The charges against Avcı are attempting to overthrow the government, founding and running a terrorist organization and obtaining secret documents of the government.
The columnist is sent behind bars pending trial in scope of the investigation publicly known as “Selam Tevhid.” Avcı is a former prosecutor and a part of the legal team that defends Samanyolu Broadcast Group Chair Hayrettin Karaca who was arrested in a former operation in this investigation.