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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short updates

 

  •  Turkey’s Internet and social media was slow and sometimes inaccessible without location hiding measures like virtual private networks or changing DNS settings during the weekend, highly likely due to the suicide bombing in Istanbul according to reports from Sunday. Twitter and Facebook has been blocked from access quickly after the attack, around 12.20 PM. Turkey routinely blocks social media from access briefly after violent attacks which is not unusual but the loss of speed in the Internet access attracted attention during the weekend.
  • The daily Cumhuriyet and some other media sources reported on Monday that Sevgi Akarçeşme, former chief editor of seized newspaper Today’s Zaman, applied for asylum in Belgium. Akarçeşme later tweeted that she does not have plans to go back to Turkey for a while due to oppression and censorship but she has not applied for asylum.
  • Socialist daily Birgün reported that their reporter Onur Erdem is facing 28 months in prison because the person he interviewed allegedly insulted the prime minister of Turkey. Erdem has interviewed British writer Tarıq Ali for the October 15, 2015 edition of Birgün and he has called PM Ahmet Davutoğlu “a fool” regarding a comment on why suicide bombers cannot be caught before the act in Turkey. According to the Birgün story, The prosecutor wants the journalist punished for the words of the interviewee due to the Article 125 of Turkish Penal Law on “insult” which may lead to a prison sentence of 14 to 28 months. Ali also calls President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan a “tin pot dictator” in the same interview but the 5th Istanbul Court of Penal Peace perceived that comment as a display of freedom of expression and denied the president’s legal team’s request to be involved in the trial according to the Birgün story. The first hearing of Erdem’s trial will be held at the 2nd Istanbul Court of Penal Peace on May 24.

Censorship at home, censorship abroad

Dicle News Agency (DİHA) reported on March 17 that their internet address was blocked from access in Turkey for the 33rd time and news website Demokrat Haber tweeted today that the had the same experience for a second time. DİHA’s original internet address diclehaber.com was blocked by Turkey’s telecommunications regulator, the TİB, on July 24, 2015 according to local reports. Demokrat Haber’s original address was blocked to access on January 28, 2016 alongside news websites sendika,org and Yüksekova Haber which were being blocked for the tenth and second times; local reports say. Blocking access to internet addresses and social media by TİB through selective court orders have been a constant problem for Turkey. Many Turkey citizens use Virtual Private Networks (VPN) or similar measures to mask their actual location to bypass the internet censorship in Turkey.

Der Spiegel reported also on March 17 that their Turkey correspondent Hasnain Kazim’s working permit was not extended and he had to be called back. Kazim had previous troubles in Turkey regarding his reporting; particularly interviewing a relatives of dead miners after a mine disaster and putting their angry statement at the president on a headline, which has led to his leaving of the country temporarily due to death threats.

Seized critical dailies transferred into propaganda pieces in Turkey

Turkey’s critical daily Zaman got immediately transferred into a propaganda piece for the government following the takeover by a court assigning trustees with the accusation of “terrorist propaganda.” Similar to what happened at the Koza İpek Holding takeover late last year, reports show that the police entered the Zaman building by force, pushed journalists around and the process continued with key journalists being fired and the Zaman‘s Internet archives are feared to be erased. As of Monday afternoon Turkey time, the website of Zaman was currently inaccessible with an under construction note on display.

Zaman‘s Chief Editor Abdülhamit Bilici and Today’s Zaman‘s former Chief Editor Bülent Keneş were the first to be fired by the new management according to reports.

Zaman’s sister publication, English language daily Today’s Zaman‘s website seemed operational at the same hours but Sevgi Akarçeşme, chief editor of the daily, said that as far as she knows the archives of the newspapers are not erased but the trustees have unplugged the servers so no new content may be entered.

Today’s Zaman has a weekend edition that stays at the newsstands for Saturday and Sunday both. Both dailies’ teams have sent the Friday editions early before the trustees arrived with the police. Saturday edition of the Zaman was perceived as a government propaganda organ as many independent observers foreign and domestic. As for Today’s Zaman, Akarçeşme said the trustees censored all the columnists to be featured on the Monday edition so her team removed their names from the newspaper; refusing to work with censorship. She said two more stories were removed from the daily later on Sunday evening before the newspaper went to print.

Akarçeşme said: “The trustees said today: ‘I do not want any story in this newspaper that denigrates Turkey.’ By denigrating Turkey, they mean criticizing [President Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan.” She also said the trustees threatened the staff: “The trustees say if we write anything critical against the new policy, they would fire us without paying compensation.”

The court order assigned the trustees to the Feza Journalism Group which houses Zaman, Today’s Zaman and Cihan News Agency. Zaman was one of the top selling dailies of the country and Today’s Zaman was one of the two existing English language dailies critical of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government. Cihan News Agency is the only other news agency in the country big enough to cover the election results live other than state controlled Anatolia Agency.

Latest on terrorism investigations against journos, censorship and ‘insulting Erdoğan’

Pro-Kurdish IMC TV banned from satellite

Pro-Kurdish IMC TV, one of the few television channels remaining critical of Turkey’s government, is banned from TÜRKSAT satellite by a prosecution order regarding a terrorism investigation. IMC TV remains on air on the Internet stream and a new satellite.

Prosecution demands ban on İMC TV’s satellite broadcasting

IMC TV satellite broadcast blacked out

Turkey turns off independent TV channel on ‘terrorist’ charge

CHP questions suspension of İMC TV channel in Parliament

Short updates

Censorship news (January 5-25)

  • Bianet reported that 34 links for a story on PKK hostages is blocked from access by court order: “The report by Dicle News Agency (ANF) about new year message of soldiers held by Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) has been blocked.” Censor on bianet Report
  • Similarly, presidential aide Yusuf Yerkel have had blocked several news stories and other content by court order. Yerkel became internationally famous by kicking a miner in front of cameras following the mining disaster in Soma in 2014. Mashable reported: “Famous images showing an aide to Turkey’s prime minister kicking a protester in the wake of a national tragedy are slowly vanishing from the internet in Turkey.” An aide to Turkey’s president kicked a protester. Then photos of the assault started disappearing. CYEIzCXWwAAODog
  • Odatv reported on January 7 that one of their news stories on the irregularities regarding the murdered journalist Hrant Dink’s trial is blocked in Turkey due to “violating the rights” of the police force. The story was on allegations whether if the police intelligence is keeping the Dink murder trial prosecutor under surveillance or not.  Emniyet Genel Müdürlüğü’nün hedefinde Odatv var
  • The recent Sultanahmet bombing news ban was discussed a lot but it is one of the many, actually hundreds, in recent years. Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç has answered the parliamentary question of CHP Deputy Leader Sezgin Tanrıkulu on July 2014 and said the courts ordered a total of 149 news bans as of 4 in 2010, 36 in 2011, 43 in 2012, 42 in 2013 and 24 in the first six months of 2014. The news bans continued in accelerating pace since then. According to this tweet from online rights activist Yaman Akdeniz, 223 links from 146 media organs were blocked regarding the Sultanahmet bombing news ban. Akdeniz also shared the document from the Prime Minister’s office to the court, demanding the ban, in this tweet.
  • Interview with Brazilian caricaturist Carlos Latuff, who is banned in Turkey: Why did Turkey ban a Brazilian cartoonist?

Updates (Dec 24-Jan 05)

  • Hürriyet Daily News Reported: “A lawsuit has been opened against Hürriyet Editor-in-Chief Sedat Ergin with a demand that the journalist serve five years in prison for “insulting president” due to a report in the daily.” Hürriyet editor-in-chief faces five years in prison for ‘insulting president’
  • Today’s Zaman reported that the same court also accepted a similar case against former daily Zaman chief editor Ekrem Dumanlı: “A court in İstanbul accepted an indictment against former Zaman Editor-in-Chief Ekrem Dumanlı and Hürriyet Editor-in-Chief Sedat Ergin on Dec. 15 for insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in tweets, according to a report by the Zaman daily on Friday. The first hearing in the case is scheduled for March 25, 2016.” Journalists Dumanlı and Ergin to be tried for ‘insulting Erdoğan’
  • Bianet reported: “DİHA website that is blocked as of July 25 has been censored 28th time.” 28th Access Block against DİHA Political news website siyasihaber.org also announced with this tweet that their website is blocked by TİB and they have a new address. It is their first time. According to this tweet featuring the court document from İnternet freedom activist Yaman Akdeniz, TİB blocked 8 other sites alongside siyasihaber.org and 10 twitter accounts. Social media accounts of Kurdish journalists and news sources have been systematically banned by TİB throughout the year.
  • Cihan News Agency reported: “An İstanbul court rejected a request by the lawyers representing journalists Can Dündar and Erdem Gül, who are under arrest, for their release on Friday.” Request to release journalists Dündar and Gül rejected again
  • Bianet reported: “Imprisoned journalist, Mehmet Baransu, has been fined on the grounds of insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s wife, Emine Erdoğan; the court hasn’t postponed the penalty over ‘inclination to crime’.” Baransu Fined for Insulting Emine Erdoğan
  • Today’s Zaman reported: “Bülent Ceyhan, the Millet daily’s former desk editor who was fired in early November by the trustees appointed to the İpek Media Group, appeared in court on Thursday on charges of insulting Interior Minister Efkan Ala” for
    writing “in a report on April 29 that Ala had been using a state-owned private jet for his personal use despite not holding public office at the time.” Journalist Bülent Ceyhan faces trial for insulting interior minister
  • Today’s Zaman reported: “The Turkish journalists Union (TGS) and the Pak Medya-İş union organized a demonstration in front of Silivri Prison on Thursday during which they called for freedom for their imprisoned colleagues.” Journalists welcome new year in front of Silivri Prison in support of jailed colleagues
  • Harassing of Kurdish journalists continued as: “DİHA reporter, Merdan Berk, following up protests in Diyarbakır has been wounded in both of his legs.” DİHA Reporter Merdan Berk Injured in Both Legs & “[JİNHA] reporter Duygu Erol went to the street of Gazi where the curfew was lifted last week but still the siege of police continues,in order to cover the news. Police stoped and threatened her by using the sentences; ‘We’ll send you to the cemetery. if it was up to me, I would execute you.'” Police threaten our reporter! & Kurdsat News cameraman Baran Ok was detained on duty in Diyarbakır on December 31 and not released until January 4. In this video, his colleague is captured trying to convince the police to release Ok, saying “O benim Kameramanım” (He is my cameraman” which ended up as a hashtag on twitter for the demand of the journalist’s release.
  • Today’s Zaman reported: “An İstanbul prosecutor has launched an investigation into the Sözcü daily for allegedly insulting president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in a puzzle published on the front page of its Jan. 1 edition.” Turkish daily faces investigation for ’insulting’ Erdoğan in puzzle

short updates from Turkey

  • Bianet reported: “Abdurrahim Boynukalın, former Justice and Development Party (AKP) MP, taking part in attack against Hürriyet daily has been appointed as Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports.” Boynukalın Partaking in Hürriyet Attack Becomes Deputy Minister
  • Bianet reported: “Journalist Tatari’s book “Grandma, I was not really in Diyarbakır” and Cemal’s books “Delila, A Young Woman Guerilla’s Mountain Diaries” and “Kurdistan Diaries in the Solution Process” have been ordered to be pulled off the shelves, Ahmet Işık has also been sentenced to a punitive fine of 1,232 euros for having defamed Binali Yıldırım, Minister of Transport, Maritime and Communication.” Tatari, Cemal Books Pulled Off Shelves, Punitive Fine for Ahmet Şık
  • Cihan News Agency reported: “Bayram Kaya, a reporter for the Zaman daily, was forced to submit defense statements for six lawsuits on Thursday based on an article he wrote about the alleged criminal histories of a number of police chiefs despite only being notified about the lawsuits on the same day” Journalist Kaya faces half dozen lawsuits for article 
  • Cihan/Today’s Zaman analysis: Doğan Media appears to bow to political pressure  “The reshuffling within the Doğan Media Group, which has been receiving threats from pro-government figures who have told the daily’s owner, Aydın Doğan, to fire certain journalists deemed anti-government, continues with new dismissals and postings.”
  • Dicle News Agency (DİHA) reported that their correspondent Mensur Küçükkarga is facing an investigation for “PKK propaganda.”
  • Today’s Zaman reported: “Hakan Albayrak, the editor-in-chief of the pro-government Diriliş Postası daily, was dismissed from his position for his columns that were critical of the government, he has said.”Pro-government editor-in-chief fired over columns critical of gov’t