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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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.

Short updates from February so far

Short updates

Latest on ‘Insulting Erdoğan’ and other updates (Jan 5-25)

  • January 6: Columnist Hasan Cemal had the third investigation launched against him for “insulting” Erdoğan. Preeminent journalist Cemal faces another probe for ’insulting’ Erdoğan
  • January 19: Columnist Ahmet Altan also had the third investigation started against him for insulting the president. Ahmet Altan
  • January 25: The Bakırköy Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office has launched an investigation into CNN Türk for using the phrase “’Dictator’ on trial” in reference to a news story concerning discord between President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu. CNN Türk investigated for using ‘dictator’ in reference to President Erdoğan
  • Hürriyet has fired two editors back in November for using an inappropriate visual of the president by mistake (see Erdoğan left of Jesus, enjoying a chicken wing). An investigation is starte against the former Hürriyet editors Şermin Terzi and Aynur Kabayel only now, according to news reports of January 25. ‘Erdoğan’a hakaret’te bugün (2): ’13’üncü Cuma’ kurbanı gazetecilere soruşturmahurriyet-erdogan
  • An Article 301 trial (“insulting Turkishness”) is started against lawyer Tugay Bek who claimed the state is protecting the killers of murdered press worker kadri Bağdu. The first session will be heid in Adana on January 28.
  • Columnist Fehmi Koru, famous with his friendship with former President Abdullah Gül, is fired from the daily Habertürk on January 12. Fehmi Koru’nun Habertürk’teki yazılarına son verildi Pro-AKP columnist Gülay Göktürk is fired from the daily Akşam on January 13 Pro-gov’t columnist fired after mild criticism of AK Party
  • According to the daily Cumhuriyet, state owned banks have blessed pro government media with 1 billion 32 million 273 thousand TL worth of ads in the last five years while ignoring the opposition press. Kamudan havuza para akıyor
  • Pro-Hizmet news site Haberdar’s Chief Editor Said Sefa said his passport is cancelled and there is a travel ban put on him without a court order. Said Sefa’ya keyfi yurtdışı yasağı
  • Today’s Zaman reported: “A letter from journalist Mehmet Baransu, who is under arrest for releasing classified documents, has revealed how he is being forced to live in miserable prison conditions in his new “cell” in Mersin that appears to be a flagrant violation of human dignity.According to the Zaman daily’s news portal on Friday, Baransu’s prison letter relayed how he was made to spend a night in prison in a cold toilet with a broken window after being moved from an overcrowded cell in which he feared for his safety.” Journalist Baransu made to sleep in toilet cell in Mersin jail
  • Hürriyet Daily News reported: “The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled for Turkey to be fined over a police raid on the office building of Nokta magazine upon a military court ruling in 2007, stating that the raid constituted a violation of human rights.” ECHR fines Turkey for 2007 raid of Nokta magazine

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

updates from Turkey (Nov 16 – Dec 08)

  • Insulting Erdoğan: “Daily Hürriyet columnist and former editor-in-chief Ertuğrul Özkök faces up to five years and four months in prison for “insulting” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in an opinion piece published on Sept. 3.” Hürriyet Daily News reported. Daily Birgün reporter Onur Erem tweeted: “I’m under prosecution b/c of the interview I made with Tariq Ali, accusted of ‘insulting president Erdogan’.” Cihan News Agency reported: “BirGün daily Managing Editor Berkant Gültekin faces up to 32 years in prison in a total of eight cases filed against him on charges of insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in news reports that appeared in the daily.” Daily Evrensel Chief Editor Fatih Polat tweeted documents about a prosecutor dropping an insult complaint by the president. Polat stated that the prosecution decided writing about Erdoğan escalating violence in the country in benefit of his political goals is within the limits of freedom of expression. The indictment is ready for the investigation about journalist Bülent Keneş for “insulting” Erdoğan. Today’s Zaman reported: “Today’s Zaman Editor-in-Chief Bülent Keneş is facing the prospect of up to eight years and two months in prison on charges of “insulting” President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in a series of tweets and statements that the journalist says was him simply expressing a critical opinion.”
  • Mistreatment in jail: Arrested journalist Mehmet Baransu wrote about the bad treatment he is exposed to in jail; Cihan News Agency reported.
  • Censored: Political cartoonist Carlos Latuff’s website is among the thousands of banned sites in Turkey. The cartoonist announced the situation with this post.
  • Detained: ETHA News Agency Editor İsminaz Ergün was detained on November 27 and about an opinion piece (titled “The Kurdish People wants an Honorable Peace”) she wrote and released after questioning.
  • Fired: Doğan Media Group is slowly “cleaning house;” firing journalist who are openly anti-AKP.  Zeynep Gürcanlı and Şükrü Küçükşahin from the Ankara office of the daily Hürriyet were fired on December 2; the daily Cumhuriyet reported. Hürriyet’s Digital Media Coordinator Bülent Mumay was fired on November 26. The Executive Director and Chief Editor of the Kanal D (Doğan’s and Turkey’s most popular TV channel) were also changed and CNNTürk is now directed by Erdoğan Aktaş; former news director of the pro-AKP news channel ATV; local reports from December 8 stated. Also, Today’s Zaman reported:”Eighty more journalists working for the Bugün and Kanaltürk TV stations were fired after the channels were dropped by the state-owned Turkish Satellite Communications Company (Türksat) from its infrastructure in a government-orchestrated crackdown on critical media.”
  • Another investigation against Nokta: Nokta reported that another investigation is launched against Nokta regarding its “Erdoğan selfie” cover. Nokta’s already arrested editors (due to Nokta’s “civil war” cover) Cevheri Güven and Murat Çapan will be investigated about the “selfie” cover for “insulting the president” and “making propaganda of a terrorist organization” alongside two new names: Ertuğrul Erbaş (news coordinator) and  Emrah Direk (digital publishing director). Originally, Çapan was the only suspect in the investigation with the accusation of “insulting” Erdoğan.

Hürriyet fires two journos to not to upset Erdoğan

Bianet reported: “Hürriyet daily has laid off two journalists because of the image titled “Curse of Friday the 13th” on hurriyet.com.tr, and apologized to President Erdoğan.”

The website of Hürriyet prepared a photo gallery on the superstition of Firday the 13th. The editors carelessly used a Jesus  and his disciples photo montage with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in it; eating chicken. This cost the two journalists their jobs immediately and Hürriyet stated a written apology.

Hürriyet Apologizes to Erdoğan, Lays Off Two Journalists

Alternative dailies published instead of confiscated ones stopped by court

Following the Koza-İpek takeover, dozens of journalists working at the dailies Bugün and Millet have lost their jobs.

Trustees dismiss 71 journalists after unlawful İpek Media Group seizure

The fired journalists have started to publish “Özgür Bugün” (Free Bugün) in print on October 30 as a reaction.

Kayyuma Karşı “Özgür Bugün”

“Özgür Millet” followed on November 1.

Özgür BUGÜN’den sonra Özgür MİLLET de yayınlarına başladı

Interest in new Özgür Bugün, Özgür Millet dailies surges

However, the trustees filed a criminal complaint against this action and an Istanbul court banned the websites and social media accounts of the dailies on November 4.

İki Gazeteye Yayın Yasağı

Access to newly established Özgür Bugün daily website blocked

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