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.”
The fuel smuggling indictment against suspects including businesspeople Aydın Doğan and his daughter Hanzade Doğan Boyner is accepted by the 1st Istanbul Court of Serious Crimes, according to reports. CPJ has reported the existence of the indictment last week and Doğan Holding has released a statement on March 17 regarding the accusations against them. Another statement arguing the accusations’ validity was released yesterday after the court accepted the indictment. Meanwhile, it was announced yesterday that radikal.com.tr, the last stand of the liberal left daily Radikal of the Doğan Media Group after it was stopped being printed, will be shut down by the end of the month.
- 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.
Barış İnce, editor for the leftist daily Birgün, received a 21 months long prison sentence from an Istanbul court March 8 for insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and appealed the verdict. The journalist will not be put under arrest unless the high court approves the verdict.
On October 20, 2014, İnce was on trial as the responsible editor for Birgün, with charges of “defamation” and “violation of secrecy” regarding his newspaper’s coverage of corruption allegations against then-Prime Minister Erdoğan and his son Bilal. He has presented a written defense which featured an acrostic; the first letters of the each paragraph read “Tayyip the thief” (Hırsız Tayyip) from top to bottom. İnce has personally stated the existence of the acrostic. The defense text was also the headline story of the next day’s Birgün with the acrostic included.
This turned into an investigation for insulting the president which led to İnce standing in front of another court on June 2, 2015 with that charge. The 2nd Istanbul Criminal Court for General Jurisdiction sentenced the journalist to 21 months in prison on March 8 and did not delay the sentence. İnce’s legal defense appealed to the verdict at the Supreme Court of Appeals which will answer on a yet undetermined date.
- HDN reported: “Prominent columnist Cengiz Çandar faces four years in jail for “insulting” President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in seven opinion pieces published on the Radikal news website.” Another Turkish columnist faces four years in jail for ‘insulting Erdoğan’
- T24 reported: A Diyarbakır court ordered blocking measures for 120 twitter accounts including those belong to media institutions daily Evrensel, Dicle News Agency (DİHA), Fırat News Agency (ANF), BestaNuce, daily Özgür Gündem and WelatNews. Evrensel ve DİHA’nın da aralarında olduğu 120 Twitter hesabına erişim engeli!
- Ankara Gölbaşı Court, famous for Internet block orders, again had several websites blocked from access in Turkey. Jin News Agency (JİNHA),Özgür Gün TV and news blog Jiyan’s current address is among them. Internet freedom activist Yaman Akdeniz’s tweet featuring the court order. Also, the twitter account of Odatv is blocked by the Gölbaşı court. Related tweet featuring the court order
- Today’s Zaman reported: “An investigation has been launched into Turkish journalists Hasan Cemal and Tuğçe Tatari, whose books have recently been banned from sale and distribution by Turkish courts, on suspicion of engaging in terrorist activities, according to a news report on the website of the pro-government daily Sabah.” Investigation launched into journalists for terrorism propaganda in books Also inculded in the report: “Another investigation was launched into Sözcü daily columnist Nasuh Mahruki on Wednesday on charges of insulting the president in an article that was printed in the daily’s Feb. 22 edition.”
- Bianet reported: “BirGün daily author Seray Şahiner has been sentenced to a punitive fine in amount of 800 euro for calling Bilal Erdoğan, son of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan “genius” in her article criticizing transforming schools into religious vocational high schools.” Punitive Fine for Calling Bilal Erdoğan ‘Genius’
- Today’s Zaman reported: “Kemal Ulusaler, a columnist with the Birgün daily, was given a suspended sentence of 11 months, 20 days on Tuesday on the charge of insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in one of his columns.” Birgün columnist gets suspended sentence for insulting Erdoğan
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has commentated on the Constitutional Court’s ruling to release the journalists Gül and Dündar as “I don’t obey the court decision. I don’t respect it either.”
Erdoğan on Release of Gül and Dündar: Don’t Obey or Respect the Court Ruling
Opposition furious at Erdoğan’s remarks on top court
Diken reported that a trial is started against their reporter Tunca Öğreten and novelist/columnist Perihan Mağden for insulting the president with an interview. Öğreten has interviewed Mağden and she has said President Erdoğan was “acting like cornered wild tiger, a wild animal.” Both face 1 to 4 years imprisonment if convicted. Mağden has told the prosecutor that her words were not meant as insults. The first hearing is on May 12. ‘Erdoğan’a hakaret’te bugün (2): Bir söyleşi nedeniyle Diken muhabirine dava
Bianet reported: “Investigation has been launched into Cumhuriyet daily cartoonist Musa Kart over complaint by Presidency Secretary General on the basis of the article 301 of the Turkish Criminal Law… According to the report of Cumhuriyet daily, it has been demanded to take legal actions against Kart on charges of “defaming the president” as well as “insulting the Turkish Nation, State of the Republic of Turkey and the institutions and organs of the state” regulated in the Article 301 of TCK. Kart has been summoned to İstanbul Court to give testimony as a suspect.”
In the mentioned caricature, Erdoğan is flying a judge as a kite as it symbolizes his tight grip and influence on Turkish judiciary.
Investigation into Cartoonist Musa Kart over Insulting State
Bu karikatüre 301 soruşturması
Lastly, and most weirdly, four journalists are to be tried for insulting the president because their morning news show has used video from an opposition party’s rally and a banner that read “murderer Erdoğan” appeared on screen.
HDN reported: Broadcaster faces charges for ‘insulting president’
“An indictment has been prepared against television channel Kanal D on the grounds that it insulted the president by showing a banner that appeared during a Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) election during one of its morning programs.
The Bakırköy Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office demanded five years and four months in prison for “Kanal D Haber Günaydın” program presenter İrfan Değirmenci, chief news editor Süleyman Sarılar, news editor Fevzi Yeniçeri and news editor Ali Ekber Aydın for insulting the president.
A banner that read “Murderer Erdoğan” appeared two or three times in the background during a HDP election rally in Germany on Sept. 30, 2015, according to the indictment”
Cihan News Agency also reported: Kanal D faces legal proceedings over ‘Murderer Erdoğan’ banner
- 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