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.

Hizmet TV and radios removed from TURKSAT sattelite

Samanyolu TV Europe, Mehtap TV, Samanyolu Haber, Yumurcak TV, MC TV, Dünya TV, Tuna Shopping TV, Irmak TV, Samanyolu TV Turkey, MC EU, Ebru TV, Samanyolu Africa, Samanyolu Haber Radio, Burç FM, Radyo Mehtap, Dünya Radyo, Radyo Berfin, Radyo Cihan are no longer broadcasted on TURKSAT.

Hizmet Movement’s blog wrote: “The broadcast of the TV channels and radio stations were removed from the state-owned Turkish Satellite Communications Company (Türksat) infrastructure in a government-backed decision as of 12 a.m. Saturday.”

Samanyolu becomes latest victim of gov’t crackdown on critical media

Legal action is taken against the decision as Today’s Zaman reported: “An Ankara administrative court has asked the state-owned Turkish Satellite Communications Company (Türksat) to submit a defense for dropping a total of 13 TV and radio channels including Samanyolu TV, Mehtap TV, S Haber and Radio Cihan that are critical of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party).”

Court demands TÜRKSAT’s defense over ban on critical channels

Press organizations slam Türksat TV platforms after removal of 7 TV channels

It is also claimed that 600 people may lose their jobs due to this decision and the Samanyolu TV administrators sold the Samanyolu Broadcasting Group building in Ankara at $6.5 million.

Follow up: Koza-İpek takeover

The circulation and ratings of the Koza-İpek dailies and televisions dropped significantly after the takeover.

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Daily Bugün’s circulation dropped to around 5000 from the level of nearly 70000 while Bugün TV lost its usual top 3 placement at news’ ratings.

Circulation of seized dailies sinks after trustee appointment

Meanwhile, Diken reported that all the past columnists’ archive of the daily Bugün was deleted from the database.

Short updates November 6-12

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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Nokta editors arrested

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.

Short updates from Turkey (Oct 20-28)

  • A leaked video from February, featuring Presidental Advisor Mustafa Varank discussing pro-Hizmet channels to be removed from the TURKSAT sattelite with pro-government journalists at a TV studio has surfaced.

Video showing censorship plan by Erdoğan’s chief advisor sparks outrage

Jurists call for legal action against Erdoğan’s adviser for media censorship plot

  • After confiscating the undistributed issue of the Nokta magazine with the Erdoğan selfie cover, blocking access to noktadergisi.com, blocking access to a story about leaked meeting notes from the AKP officials, the government practiced “preliminary censorship” on Nokta by presenting a court order that what kind of news they will not be able to report. The mentioned meeting notes were part of a series but Nokta reported on October 21 that they received a court order that says they cannot continue to publish the alleged notes. Nokta also stated that the police confiscated their magazine’s latest issue from some central newsstands in Istanbul without a court order.

Nokta Dergisi’ne yönelik baskılar basın tarihinin görmediği yeni bir boyuta yükseldi

  • Hürriyet reported on October 24: 12 news websites were blocked from access in 4 days. As listed below:

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Dört günde 12 haber sitesine erişim engeli

  • Diken reported: A trial started against police officer S.G. for breaking the nose of Dicle News Agency (DİHA) reporter Feyyaz İmrak as he was covering a protest event. The cop is on trial without arrest and faces a year of imprisonment if found guilty and pleads not guilty.

DİHA muhabirinin burnunu kıran polisin bir yıl hapsi isteniyor

  • Regarding the latest developments in the Hrant Dink murder case:

Dink murder indictment returned to prosecutor for including Dinç as suspect

Intelligence unit is temporizing the Dink investigation with fabricated reports

25 years sought for police chief in Dink murder indictment

Gülenist police chiefs face life sentence over Dink murder

Former police intel chiefs face up to 25 years in jail over Hrant Dink murder

  • Cem Küçük, pro government journalist who is famous for threatening colleagues and recently questioned by the police regarding the attack on Ahmet Hakan did it again. Küçük threatened CNNTürk news presenter Nevşin Mengü with ending her journalism career. Küçük has testified that his previous threats to Hakan were “irony,” not threats. During a daytime live TV debate, Küçük claimed Hakan has published his adress and other private information in his column (not true) and Mengü showed that newspaper clip on CNNTürk. “Mengü will see… I will end her life in media” Küçük said. Mengü said she welcomes the challenge.

Cem Küçük Bu Sefer de Nevşin Mengü’yü Tehdit Etti

Turkey government silences critical media before election

Turkish court ordering a government takeover of a holding that houses critical media outlets Mondat resulted in protests for silencing the opposition days before the general elections according to local reports.

Koza-İpek Holding was raided by the police early September with terrorism allegations. The holding owns critical media organs such as Bugün TV, the daily Bugün, Kanaltürk TV and the daily Millet. Koza-İpek and its media organs are accused of allegiance with the alleged terrorist organization FETÖ/PDY (Fethullah Gülen Terrorist Organization/Parallel State Structure) as it is named in related court documents. The leading Justice and Development Party (AKP) used to had a close relationship with the religious Hizmet Movement led by cleric Fethullah Gülen but the two have been uneasy with each other in recent years and became fierce enemies since the alleged corruption scandal in December 2013; popularly known as the “December 17/25 process.”

The 5th Ankara Penal Court of Peace ordered the seizure of the management of the Holding on Monday; reports say. Protests by employees and supporters have resulted in the police using tear gas during the takeover. The opposition parties of Turkey, foreign officials, the Journalists Union and several press NGOs have protested the action; in consensus of the observation that this is a violation of press freedom.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s former adviser and speechwriter; AKP Parliamentary Deputy Aydın Ünal said on live television that other critical media organs’ “turns will come” after the November 1 elections. The deputy said there is “pressure over Turkey” with the claim of “there is pressure against the press” currently, but he promised the voters that they will go after the dailies Sözcü, Cumhuriyet and other critical media after November 1.

Short updates from Turkey

A British woman who was working as the Iraq director for the Institute of War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) has died in an Istanbul airport, the Foreign Office has confirmed.

British activist Jacky Sutton found dead in Istanbul airport

İngiltere, Gazeteci Sutton’ın Atatürk Havalimanı’nda Öldüğünü Doğruladı

VICE reported: A Belgian television network was threatened by the government after a reporter asked the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan a question about Mohammed Ismael Rasool, the VICE News journalist who has now been imprisoned in Turkey for seven weeks.The incident, all caught on camera, caused a storm in Belgium and prompted the European Federation of Journalists to report the Belgian government to the European Council for “intimidation.”

Reporter Threatened for Asking Turkish President About Jailed VICE News Journalist

The Ankara 6th Criminal Court of Peace has lifted a five-day media ban on the deadly Oct. 10 Ankara bombing upon a request from the Ankara Chief Prosecutor’s Office; HDN reported.

Court lifts media ban on Ankara bombing

Armed assault on pro-gov media boss, accusations, confidentiality order

“Star Media Group Chairman Murat Sancak has been attacked on Thursday by gunmen. Sancak survived unscathed from the attack. Two assailants, who were reportedly wearing masks, have opened fired on Sancak’s car and fled the scene immediately” the daily Sabah has reported on August 20.

Star Media Group Chairman Murat Sancak attacked by gunmen in Istanbul

Despite Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has said the attackers were apprehended in a live TV interview weeks later; this was not confirmed. However, opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said the PM said the same thing to him too. Reports from October 12 say.

Kılıçdaroğlu asks PM to reveal details of attack on Star Media Group CEO

Then, it was claimed that the attack was related to a gambling debt of Sancak.

Questions deepen over attack on Star Media CEO

Columnist Özkök claims Star Media CEO lost $12 million via gambling

Is Erdoğan the guarantor behind media boss’s gambling debts?

Three arrests were made on October 15

3 arrested over attack on pro-gov’t Star Media CEO

Police says perpetrators of attack on Turkish media group head ‘related to criminal group’

And most recently, a confidentiality order is brought over the investigation

Confidentiality order issued for drive by shooting of pro-gov’t media chairman