Sinan Yavuz, Yoksul Halkin Gücü
Imprisoned: August 9, 1993
CPJ believes that Yavuz, editor of the left-wing weekly Yoksul HalkinGücü, was arrested during a police raid on an Istanbul fabric
shop. Police reportedly had been told that the shop served as a front and
arms-trafficking station for Devrimci Sol (Dev Sol), an outlawed leftist
organization responsible for numerous armed terrorist operations in Turkey.
The charges under which Yavuz was prosecuted show that he was alleged to
be a member of Dev Sol, apparently on the basis of his affiliation with
Yoksul Halkin Gücü, which the state asserts is the group's
publishing arm. The evidence against Yavuz consisted of unspecified "documents"
relating to Dev Sol and two copies of the magazine Kurtulus (a legal,
far-left publication), which had allegedly been discovered during a search
of the shop. Yavuz was alleged to have resisted arrest after attempting
to flee the raid. He had been detained on previous occasions but released
for lack of evidence.
Yavuz confessed to nothing in police custody, but
the prosecution said that other members of Dev Sol who were detained in
the same roundup stated that Yavuz was a member of the group. According
to court documents, Yavuz waved a Dev Sol banner in the courtroom. He was
convicted, sentenced on December 29, 1994, to 12 years and six months in
jail, and sent to Canakkale Prison.
Journalists in Turkey and informed observers of Turkish politics regarded
the now-defunct weekly socialist newspaper Atilim (Leap Forward)
and its successor publications as sympathetic to the outlawed Marxist-Leninist
Communist Party (MLKP), an extreme-left urban guerrilla group which the
government holds responsible for acts of domestic terrorism, including
bombings and robberies. Atilim's predecessor was the monthly Emegin
Bayragi (Labor's Flag) and the magazine Iscinin Yolu. Atilim
began publication in October 1994; in 1996, it changed its name to Ozgur
Atilim (Free Leap Forward). In September 1997, Ozgur Atilim
changed its name to Ozgurluk ve Sosyalizm Yolunda Atilim (Leap Forward
for Freedom and Socialism), under which it continues to publish as a weekly
newspaper based in Istanbul. Ozgurluk ve Sosyalizm Yolunda Atilim
and its predecessors have all been legally registered publications.
The Turkish government has repeatedly harassed Atilim,
confiscating editions of the newspaper and detaining and allegedly torturing
its reporters. On March 29, 1996, Istanbul's State Security Court ordered
Atilim closed for one month and sentenced Ismail Akkin, the weekly's
editor, to six months in prison for allegedly disseminating "separatist
propaganda." The order also suspended publication of Ozgür Genclik,
a magazine for young people, published by Atilim's parent company.
The government has prosecuted Atilim's
journalists on numerous occasions
Bülent Öner, Atilim
Imprisoned: June 15, 1995
CPJ believes Öner is imprisoned for his work as a reporter for
Atilim. He was taken into custody during a police raid on the newspaper's
Mersin bureau on June 15, and formally charged with membership in the outlawed
Marxist-Leninist Communist Party (MLKP) on June 24.
Investigators reportedly found numerous unspecified
"documents" linking Öner to the MLKP. Two witnesses testified for
the state, which asserted that Atilim was the publication of the
MLKP and further accused Öner of writing and distributing unspecified
declarations of the group. According to court documents, the prosecutor
had stated that banners depicting a "disappeared" political activist were
found in Öner's office. Öner was convicted and sentenced to 12
years and six months in jail; he was sent to Erzurum Prison.
Mesut Bozkurt, Atilim
Imprisoned: June 15, 1995
Bozkurt, bureau chief of Atilim's Iskenderun office, was convicted
of membership in the outlawed Marxist-Leninist Communist Party (MLKP),
evidently on the basis of his work for the paper. He was arrested during
a police raid on Atilim's offices in June 15, 1995.
Court documents reveal that copies of Atilim-described
by the prosecution as "bulletins" of the MLKP-comprised the principal evidence
in his trial. The prosecution also said that Bozkurt had rented a house
in Mersin on behalf of the MLKP, and that police searching the premises
found unspecified "illegal documents." It is not clear whether these confiscated
documents were introduced as material evidence.
Bozkurt was sentenced to 12 years and six months
in prison on January 26, 1996, along with Atilim colleagues Fatma
Harman, Bulent Öner, and Hasan Abali.
Fatma Harman, Atilim
Imprisoned: June 15, 1995
Harman, a reporter for Atilim, was taken into custody during
a police raid on the newspaper's Mersin bureau in June 15, 1995. CPJ believes
that her arrest was the result of a crackdown on the publication and that
she has been imprisoned for work as a journalist.
Harman was formally arrested on June 24, 1995, and
sentenced on January 26, 1996, to 12 years and six months in prison under
Article 168 of the Penal Code. Atilim's lawyer reports that she
was convicted of membership in the outlawed Marxist-Leninist Communist
Party (MLKP) on the argument that Atilim was the publication of
that group. The prosecution reportedly offered copies of Atilim
found in Harman's possession as evidence of her affiliation, and said that
several unspecified banners were found in the Atilim office. Further,
the prosecution said that Harman and Bulent Öner, another Atilim
reporter, lived together in a house belonging to the MLKP. Harman is in
Ibrahim Çiçek, Atilim
Imprisoned: March 15, 1996
The use of articles from Atilim as material evidence against
Çiçek leads CPJ to believe that he was prosecuted for his
work as a journalist. According to court documents, Çiçek,
former editor in chief of the leftist weekly Atilim, testified that
he was detained on March 15, 1996, on his way to his father's home, and
his wife was detained the following day at their home. Çiçek
was charged with membership in an illegal organization, but his lawyer
reports that the only evidence against Çiçek was his affiliation
with Atilim, which the state asserted was the mouthpiece of the
Marxist-Leninist Communist Party (MLKP).
According to the Ministry of Justice, Çiçek
"was taken into custody in relation to the armed attack carried out by
the MLKP illegal leftist organization against government office buildings
in the Sultanbeyli district of Istanbul as well as the offices of the MHP
political party in the same district around 1 a.m. on March 14, 1996. The
incident prompted the decision of the Istanbul State Security Court to
detain Mr. Çiçek with his collaborators on March 29, 1996.
Currently, he is in Bayrimpasa Prison in Istanbul."
Court documents show that Çiçek was
charged with being a leader of the MLKP (Article 168/1 of the Penal Code)-specifically,
of ordering an armed assault on the offices of an ultra-right-wing party
in Istanbul-and of running Atilim. The prosecutor produced as evidence
a story that appeared in Atilim's March 23, 1996, issue, about the
assault on the ultra-right-wing party in Istanbul. Two people gave statements
to authorities which implicated Çicek. According to the defense
statement, Çiçek said that he was tortured by police, but
made no confession. He was sentenced to a minimum of 15 years in prison.
Imprisoned: September 9, 1996
CPJ believes that Kimran's prosecution and imprisonment resulted from
his work as editor of the leftist weekly Iscinin Yolu, which was
subject to repeated government harassment during his tenure.
Kimran is currently being held in Sakarya Prison
for alleged membership in an outlawed organization under Article 168 of
the Penal Code. His lawyer told CPJ that Kimran had also faced charges
under Articles 7 (engaging in propaganda for an outlawed organization)
and 8 (disseminating separatist propaganda) of the Anti-Terror Law. Staffers
from the socialist weekly Atilim said these charges arose from news
articles that appeared in Iscinin Yolu during his tenure. The Penal
Code violation case was prosecuted but the Anti-Terror Law cases were eventually
suspended following the government's August 14, 1997, amnesty for jailed
According to court documents, Kimran was apprehended
by police on a bus on September 9, in a police operation in advance of
the anniversary of the Marxist-Leninist Communist Party (MLKP). The prosecution
claimed that Kimran was a leader of the organization. The charge was based
on a statement of an alleged MLP sympathizer, made while in police custody,
that Kimran had given instructions to bomb a city bus. Kimran was also
caught with a counterfeit I.D., which he admitted having because of his
fear of being detained in the course of his journalistic work. The prosecution
stated that police searching Kimran's apartment found documents in his
handwriting that demonstrated his affiliation with the MLKP.
Alinteri (Sweat of the Laborer), a now-defunct Istanbul-based
socialist weekly, began publication on October 31, 1993. Since 1995, it
has published under the name Emekci' nin Alinteri. Both are/were
legal publications. Journalists in Turkey and informed observers of Turkish
politics regarded Alinteri as sympathetic to the outlawed Turkish
Revolutionary Communist Union (TIKB), a small urban guerrilla group.
government has confiscated editions of the newspaper and prosecuted its
journalists on numerous occasions:
Erdal Dogan, Alinteri
Imprisoned: July 10, 1995
Dogan, an Ankara reporter for Alinteri, was detained by police
on July 10, 1995, and later tried and convicted of membership in the Turkish
Revolutionary Communist Union (TIKB) on the basis of his attendance at
opposition events in his capacity as a journalist.
Court papers indicate that the prosecution argued
that Alinteri was the publication of the TIKB. The case against
Dogan was based on the following evidence: 1) A photograph of Dogan, taken
at a 1992 May Day parade, allegedly showing him standing underneath a United
Revolutionary Trade Union banner; 2) A photograph of Dogan taken on the
anniversary of a TIKB militant's death; 3) A photograph alleged to show
Dogan attending an illegal demonstration in Ankara; 4) Statements of an
alleged member of the TIKB, who said Dogan belonged to the organization.
The defense claimed that the incriminating statement was extracted under
torture. Dogan's lawyer told CPJ that the photograph from the militant's
memorial was blurry, and Dogan testified in court that he had attended
the May Day parade as a journalist. He was sentenced to 12 years and six
months in prison under Article 168/2 of the Penal Code. and has been confined
to Bursa Prison.
Serpil Günes, Alinteri
Imprisoned: September 7, 1996
Günes, an editor and owner of Alinteri, was arrested in
Izmir when police raided a vacation apartment where she and several of
her Alinteri colleagues were staying. She has been in jail since
The prosecution stated that police found a counterfeit
identification card in Günes' possession, and seized unspecified illegal
publications and handwritten documents which purportedly linked her and
her colleagues to the Turkish Revolutionary Communist Union (TIKB). Günes
was accused of membership in an outlawed organization based on the these
allegations, as well as on witness testimony. Günes denied all the
Former Alinteri staffers said Günes
was charged and convicted of violating Article 7 of the Anti-Terror Law
(propagandizing on behalf of an outlawed organization) and Article 312
of the Penal Code (inciting racial hatred) for articles published in the
newspaper during her tenure. She was also charged with membership in the
Günes' lawyer told CPJ that there had been
about 20 cases against her as editor and owner of Alinteri, all
of which were suspended following the August 14, 1997, amnesty for editors.
Her lawyer said Günes has been fined nearly one billion TL in her
capacity as owner of Alinteri. CPJ sees in these previous convictions
a pattern of state harassment against Alinteri for publishing news
and dissenting opinion.
As a result of the raid, Günes was also charged
in a separate indictment with "membership in an outlawed organization"
under Article 168 of the Penal Code. Günes' lawyer characterized her
conviction in this case as a "political decision" and said that she received
the maximum 15-year sentence because the state considers Alinteri
the mouthpiece of the TIKB. Günes is in Usak Prison.
Erhan Il, Devrimci Emek
Imprisoned: February 16, 1996
Il is a reporter for the magazine Devrimci Emek, and was editor
in chief from 1993 to 1994. Court documents state that Il was arrested
and charged under Article 168/2 of the Penal Code with belonging to the
Turkish Communist Leninist Labor Party's (TKEP-L) youth organization. The
prosecution also alleged that he rented a house in December 1994 for the
TKEP-L, stored weapons for the organization, and possessed a counterfeit
Il's colleagues at Devrimci Emek told CPJ
that he was prosecuted on the basis of articles published in the magazine
during his tenure as editor. In response to an inquiry from CPJ, the Ministry
of Justice stated that Il was convicted "according to amended Article 8/1
of the Anti-Terror Law [disseminating separatist propaganda], and not according
to Article 168 of the Penal Code[.]" He is in Byrampasa Prison.
KURTULUS and MÜCADELE
Kurtulus, a weekly socialist magazine based in Istanbul, is
the latest incarnation in a series of publications that since 1986 has
included Çözüm, Yeni Çözüm, and
Mücadele. Although its circulation is relatively small, Kurtulus
is available at major kiosks and bookstores in Ankara and Istanbul.
Journalists in Turkey and informed observers of Turkish politics regard
Kurtulus (Liberation) as the publication sympathetic to the outlawed
armed group Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C), formerly
known as Dev Sol. Over the years, these militant Marxist organizations
have claimed responsibility for the killings of generals, police officers,
government officials, and foreigners. The group also took responsibility
for the 1996 assassination of a member of one of Turkey's most powerful
Examples of state harassment of Kurtulus and its predecessors
Hüseyin Solak, Mücadele
Imprisoned: October 27, 1993
Solak, the Gaziantep bureau chief of Mücadele, was arrested,
charged with membership in the outlawed Dev Sol, and convicted on the strength
of statements from people who said they had seen him distributing the magazine.
Transcripts of Solak's trial indicate the prosecution
witness also testified that Solak had hung unspecified banners in public,
and had served as a lookout while members of Dev Sol threw a Molotov cocktail
at a bank in Gaziantep. The prosecution also cited "illegal" documents
found after searches of Solak's home and office. Solak confessed to the
charges while in police custody, but recanted in court.
Solak was sentenced on November 24, 1994, to 12
years and six months in prison under Article 168/2 of the Penal Code. He
is in Cankiri Prison.
Serdar Gelir, Mücadele
Imprisoned: April 16, 1994
Gelir, Ankara bureau chief for Mücadele, was detained on
April 16, 1994, and arrested 10 days later for being a member of an illegal
organization. CPJ believes he has been imprisoned for attending an opposition
rally as a reporter and his association with Mücadele.
During the trial, the prosecution introduced into
evidence a handwritten note-written on a copy of Kurtulus magazine-found
in Gelir's possession, which discussed local elections in Turkey. Excerpts
from the document said that "the state has held elections in Kurdistan
by force, with the force of 150,000 soldiers. The state has shown that
it can hold elections in this region by blood. By disqualifying the representatives
of the Kurdish people, by massacring the Kurdish people, that [sic] the
state can get the results it wants from the elections."
The prosecution also claimed that Gelir had handwritten
a four-page document that discussed revolution, colonialism, and armed
struggle. Prosecutors further alleged that Gelir had attended an illegal
demonstration and distributed copies of the magazine. This was cited as
proof of his membership in Dev Yol, an outlawed organization affiliated
with Dev Sol. They said that Gelir had confessed to the accusations in
police custody but later recanted.
In his defense, Gelir insisted that he was covering
the demonstration for Mücadele, and his lawyer added that Gelir
had filed a story on the event. Gelir said that he had been detained on
April 6 and held for 16 days but was released due to lack of evidence.
On April 25, he was arrested again and then charged. Gelir cited the Turkish
government's hostility toward the press, which he said that such groups
as RSF and the Press Council have documented.
The Ministry of Justice told CPJ that Gelir was
tried under Article 168/2 of the Penal Code and Article 5 of the Anti-Terror
Law 3713 and sentenced to 15 years imprisonment by the Ankara State Security
Court for being a member of an armed, illegal leftist organization (Revolutionary
Left/Dev Sol). Court records, however, indicate that he was sentenced to
12 years and six months in Ankara Closed Prison.
Aysel Bölücek, Mücadele
Imprisoned: October 11, 1994
Bölücek, a correspondent in Ankara for Mücadele,
was arrested at her home and charged under Article 168/2 of the Penal Code,
based on information the police had obtained and on a handwritten document
allegedly linking her to Dev Sol. She has been in prison since her arrest.
Court documents show the state also used as evidence
the October 8, 1994, issue of Mücadele, arguing that the weekly
was the publication of Dev Sol. The prosecutor claimed that the October
8 issue insulted the security forces and state officials, and praised Dev
Sol guerrillas who had been killed in clashes with security forces.
The defense argued that it was illegal for the defendant
to be tried twice for the same crime. (Earlier in 1994, Bölücek
had been acquitted of a charge of membership in Dev Sol for which the primary
evidence had been the same handwritten document.) The defense accepted
the claim that Bölücek had written the document, but said that
she was forced under torture to write it while in police custody. The defense
also said that a legal publication could not be used as evidence, and that
the individuals who made incriminating statements about Bölücek
to the police had done so under torture and subsequently recanted. Bölücek
was sentenced to 12 years and six months on December 23, 1994. She is being
held in Canakkale Prison.
Burhan Gardas, Mücadele
Imprisoned: March 23, 1995
Gardas, the Ankara bureau chief for Mücadele, has been
the target of several prosecutions since 1994 relating to his work as a
Court records state that Gardas was detained on
January 12, 1994, at his office. During a search of the premises, the police
reportedly found four copies of "news bulletins" of the outlawed Dev Sol.
The prosecution also said that police found banners with left-wing slogans
and photographs of Dev Sol militants who had been killed in clashes with
security forces. The prosecution said that when Gardas was taken into custody
he shouted anti-state slogans. The prosecution said that Gardas was using
Mücadele's office for Dev Sol activities. He was charged with
violating Article 168/2 of the Penal Code.
Gardas denied all charges. His attorney argued that
the confiscated illegal publications were part of the magazine's archive,
and that Gardas had been tortured while in detention. His lawyer presented
a medical report to document the torture. Gardas was released on May 14,
1994, pending the outcome of his trial. While awaiting the verdict, he
was arrested again on March 23, 1995, on new charges of violating Article
168/2 of the Penal Code, this time in connection with his activity as Ankara
Bureau Chief of Kurtulus (the successor publication to Mücadele).
The police raided his office in connection with
the later charges and seized three copies of Kurtulus "news bulletins"
and six articles from Kurtulus regarding the announcement of some
illegal rallies. His second trial was held at the Number 2 State Security
Court of Ankara. Court documents reveal that the prosecution's evidence
against Gardas consisted of his refusal to talk during a police interrogation-allegedly
a Dev Sol policy-and his possession of publications which the prosecution
contended were the mouthpieces of outlawed organizations, including Mücadele
and Kurtulus. The state also introduced the statements of Ali Han,
who worked at Kurtulus' Ankara bureau and stated that Gardas was
a Dev Sol member. Gardas denied the claim, and his defense argued that
his silence during police interrogation was a constitutional right and
On July 4, 1995, the Number 1 State Security Court
of Ankara sentenced Gardas to 15 years in prison on the Mücadele
charges. In 1996, he was sentenced to an additional 15 years on the second
set of charges. He has thus been convicted twice of membership in Dev Sol,
in each case based on his work as a journalist. Gardas is reportedly serving
these sentences successively at Aydin Prison.
Özlem Türk, Mücadele
Imprisoned: January 17, 1995
Türk, a reporter for Mücadele in Samsun, was arrested
at a relative's home and charged with being a member of the outlawed Revolutionary
People's Liberation Party-Front, an offshoot of Dev Sol. She has been in
prison since her arrest.
Court documents state that the prosecution cited
as evidence the fact that Türk collected money for Mücadele,
as well as a handwritten autobiography allegedly found in the home of a
member of the Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front. Two people
stated that she was a member of the group.
Türk maintained that the money she had collected
came from sales of copies of Mücadele. The same court documents
reveal that Türk said she was forced to confess to the charges under
torture. The only material evidence presented in the case were copies of
legal publications-Mücadele, Tavir, and Devrimci
Genclik-found at her home, and copies of her alleged autobiography.
Police provided expert testimony to authenticate the incriminating document.
According to court documents, Türk was sentenced
to 15 years in prison. She is in Canakkale Prison.
Necla Can, Kurtulus
Imprisoned: April 9, 1995
CPJ believes Can, a reporter for the leftist weekly Kurtulus,
was imprisoned for attending an insurgent's funeral in her capacity as
Trial documents obtained in December 1997 state
that Can was apprehended by police at her home on April 9, 1995, after
two people made incriminating statements about her to authorities. They
alleged that Can was a member of the Revolutionary People's Liberation
Party-Front (DHKP-C) but later recanted. Can was tried along with 19 other
alleged members of the DHKP-C.
Can's lawyer told CPJ that the basis for the charge
against her had been her attendance at the funeral of a member of the DHKP-C.
In defending Can, her lawyer had said that she had been there as a journalist.
The lawyer also said that Can had testified in court to being beaten while
Can was tried along with 19 other alleged members
of the DHKP-C. Can was convicted on December 21, 1997, and sentenced to
12 years and six months in prison under Article 168/2 of the Penal Code.
She is in Istanbul's Umraniye Prison.
Özgür Güdenoglu, Mücadele
Imprisoned: May 24, 1995
Güdenoglu, Mücadele's Konya bureau chief, was arrested,
charged, and convicted under Article 168 of the Penal Code. He was sentenced
to 12 years, 6 months in prison for alleged membership in Dev Sol. CPJ
believes his prosecution is related to the state's well-documented harassment
of Mücadele. He is in Konya Prison.
Kamber Inan, Kurtulus
Imprisoned: July 11, 1995
CPJ believes Inan has been jailed as part of a campaign of harassment
against Kurtulus, for which he was a reporter. Inan was arrested
in his home in Istanbul and charged under Article 168/2 of the Penal Code
for membership in the Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C).
Court documents obtained from Inan's lawyer in December 1997 said that
he had refused to answer questions during his detention and upon conviction
was sentenced to 15 years in prison. He is in Bayrampasa Prison.
Ufuk Dogubay, Kurtulus
Imprisoned: July 27, 1995
CPJ believes that the prosecution of Dogubay, a former editor of
Kurtulus, was motivated by his work as a journalist and is part of
a pattern of harassment against the magazine. Court documents state that
Dogubay was arrested and imprisoned on July 27, 1995, and accused of writing
a document that indicated that Kurtulus was the publication of the
Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C). He denied the charge,
but an expert witness for the prosecution concluded that he had written
the document. The prosecution cited statements from two people allegedly
incriminating Dogubay, and claimed that Dogubay shouted leftist slogans
during his arrest. He was convicted and sentenced to 12 years and six months
in prison under Article 168/2 of the Penal Code. The court documents refer
to him as a journalist and an engineer. He is in Sagmalcilar Prison.
Sadik Çelik, Kurtulus
Imprisoned: December 23, 1995
Although Çelik was detained and formally charged with membership
in the outlawed Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C),
the state's case rested almost exclusively on his activities as a reporter
and Zonguldak bureau chief for Kurtulus.
Court documents state that Çelik was detained
on December 23, 1995. The prosecution asserted that Kurtulus was
the publication of the DHKP-C, and that Çelik's position with the
magazine proved he was a member of the group. Çelik was accused
of conducting "seminars" for the DHKP-C in the magazine's office, propagandizing
for the organization, transporting copies of the magazine from Istanbul
to Zonguldak by bus, and organizing the paper's distribution in Zonguldak.
The prosecution said that Çelik's name appeared in a document written
by a leader of the DHKP-C (it is not clear whether the document was introduced
as material evidence). Moreover, the prosecution said Çelik's refusal
to testify in police custody proved his guilt.
The defense argued that the prosecution could not
substantiate any of its claims. Çelik acknowledged distributing
the magazine in his capacity as Kurtulus' bureau chief. He said
that he held meetings in the office to discuss matters pertaining to the
magazine. The defense presented the statements of two Kurtulus reporters,
corroborating Çelik's statements.
Çelik was sentenced on October 17, 1996,
to 12 years and six months in prison. Court documents indicate he was sent
to Ankara Closed Prison.
He was reportedly released in February 1998.
Asaf Sah, Kurtulus
Imprisoned: January 4, 1996
CPJ believes that Sah, an Antakya reporter for Kurtulus, was
imprisoned as part of the state's campaign of harassment against the magazine.
Sah was convicted under Article 169 of the Penal Code for aiding an outlawed
organization. He was sentenced on April 16, 1996, to three years and nine
months in jail and is currently in Nevsehir Prison.
Yazgül Güder Öztürk, Kurtulus
Imprisoned: March 31, 1996
CPJ believes Öztürk has been prosecuted as part of the state's
harassment of Kurtulus, for which she was a reporter. Court documents
obtained in December 1997 state that Öztürk was detained and
imprisoned on March 31, 1996, charged with violating Article 168/2 of the
Penal Code for membership in the Revolutionary People's Liberation Salvation
Party-Front (DHKP-C). The prosecution accused her of gathering information
for DHKP-C in Gaziantep, near the Syrian border, and Konya, in central
Turkey. She was also accused of attending unspecified illegal demonstrations
in Istanbul and the funeral in Adana of two members of the DHKP-C who were
killed during a robbery in Ankara.
According to Öztürk's lawyer, the prosecution
additionally claimed that she had coordinated the propaganda activities
of the DHKP-C.
In her defense, Öztürk cited her work
as a journalist and denied all charges. She was convicted of membership
in the DHKP-C and is in Bayrampasa Prison.
Ayten Öztürk, Kurtulus
Imprisoned: October 13, 1997
Court documents suggest strongly that Öztürk has been imprisoned
because she published and edited Kurtulus. In September 1997, Öztürk
was already facing charges, under Article 7 of the Anti-Terror Law, of
spreading propaganda in the press on behalf of an outlawed organization.
Those charges were voided on September 4 by an Istanbul State Security
Court in accordance with the government's August 14 amnesty for editors.
On September 19, however, a warrant was issued for her arrest for a violation
of Article 168/1 of the Penal Code-a statute not covered by the amnesty.
Özturk surrendered to the court on October
13, and thereupon was charged with leading the outlawed Revolutionary People's
Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C). The main evidence cited at her trial was
her publication and distribution of an unspecified "special edition" of
Kurtulus. The prosecution also said she had met with two alleged
members of the DHKP-C. She was convicted on December 24 and sentenced to
12 years and six months. She is currently in Ankara Closed Prison.
Utku Deniz Sirkeci, Tavir
Imprisoned: August 6, 1994
CPJ believes that Sirkeci, the Ankara bureau chief of the leftist cultural
magazine Tavir, was imprisoned for attending the funeral of a Dev
Sol activist in his capacity as a journalist. He was convicted of membership
in Dev Sol and sentenced to 12 years and six months in prison.
Court records show the state accused Sirkeci of
throwing a Molotov cocktail at a bank in Ankara, but the documents do not
stipulate what evidence was introduced to support this charge. It is not
clear that a Molotov cocktail was ever thrown. Prosecutors also cited Sirkeci's
attendance at the funeral of a political activist to support the charge
that he was a Dev Sol member. Sirkeci maintained he attended the funeral
in his capacity as a journalist. During the trial, he provided detailed
testimony of his torture at the hands of police, who he alleged coerced
him to confess. He is in Ankara Closed Prison.
Baris Yildirim, Tavir
Imprisoned: March 21, 1995
CPJ believes that Yildirim, a columnist for the leftist cultural magazine
Tavir, was imprisoned for his work as a journalist. He was arrested,
charged, and subsequently tried and convicted under Article 168 of the
Penal Code for membership in Dev Sol, but interviews with his colleagues
in 1996 indicated that his conviction was based largely on the fact that
he worked for the magazine.
The prosecution stated that Yildirim was arrested
in Izmir and tried in the State Security Court for membership in Dev Sol.
Informants told the court that Yildirim was a spokesman for the organization,
taking part in throwing Molotov cocktails, and hanging banners around Izmir
on orders from the organization. The prosecution alleged that he had participated
in the occupation of the center-right True Path Party's Izmir offices.
Yildirim was convicted on December 17, 1996, and
sentenced to 12 years and six months. He is being held in Buca Prison in
Bülent Sümbül, Özgür Halk
Imprisoned: April 24, 1995
Sümbül, a reporter in the Diyarbakir bureau of the pro-Kurdish
monthly magazine Özgür Halk, was arrested during
a police raid on his Diyarbakir office. CPJ believes that the state's case
stemmed from Sümbül's work as a journalist.
Sümbül's lawyer told CPJ his client had
been accused of violating Article 169 of the Penal Code, aiding the outlawed
Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). To establish Sümbül's guilt,
the prosecution relied on photographs of alleged PKK members which they
claimed Sümbül delivered to an imprisoned colleague in Diyarbakir
Prison. Sümbül's lawyer responded: "When you take something to
the prison, everything is searched. There is no way that he [Sümbül]
could have given her the photos of some PKK members. The guards would have
found them...inside the stationery. So, he [Sümbül] denies that
he had given [the imprisoned colleague] the photos."
The prosecution's statement said that Sumbul was
also accused of "being the leader of an organizational cell, taking an
active role in an illegal organization, [and] acting as liaison for militants
in rural and urban areas." According to this lawyer, the prosecution also
produced a written confession, which police coerced him to sign.
Sümbül denied the charges. He was convicted
and sentenced to three years and nine months. He is in Bismil Prison.
Mehmet Çakar, Partizan Sesi
Imprisoned: February 13, 1995
Çakar, Izmir bureau chief of the leftist monthly Partizan
Sesi, was arrested and charged with being a member the outlawed Marxist-Leninist
According to Çakar's lawyer, the prosecution
had based its case on the fact that Çakar had distributed copies
of the magazine. The prosecution also said that Çakar had met with
two members of an unspecified outlawed organization-a charge that Çakar
denied, according to his attorney. Court documents obtained in December
1997 verified the lawyer's statements.
Çakar's lawyer told CPJ that his client had
been convicted of membership in the Marxist-Leninist Communist Party and
sentenced to 12 years and six months in Bursa Prison.
The pro-Kurdish daily Özgür Gündem published
from 1992 to 1994 before being forced to close under sustained government
pressure. Successor papers have included Yeni Ulke, Özgür
Ulke, Yeni Politika, Özgür Yasam, and Demokrasi. Each
was forced to close because of state legal action. The paper currently
publishes under the name Ulkede Gündem. Journalists in Turkey
and informed observers of Turkish politics regard the paper as sympathetic
to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).
Throughout its existence, Özgür Gündem
experienced systematic government harassment in response to its coverage
of the state's ongoing conflict with Kurdish insurgents in southeastern
Turkey. In 1993, CPJ documented 246 cases pending against the newspaper.
Authorities suspended or confiscated numerous issues of the newspaper and
prosecuted its journalists under various provisions of the Anti-Terror
Law and Penal Code for articles published in the paper. At least four of
its responsible editors have served or are currently serving prison terms.
Imprisoned: November 13, 1993
Besikçi, a prominent scholar and author of numerous books and
articles on the Kurds in Turkey, was arrested and charged with violating
the Anti-Terror Law for an article he wrote in the now-defunct daily Yeni
Ülke. He was tried and sentenced to one year in prison. Since
this initial conviction, however, Besikçi has been found guilty
in other cases for articles he published on the Kurdish question in Özgür
Gündem, and for books he has written on the subject. By the end
of 1997, he had been sentenced to more than 100 years in prison. He remains
in Bursa Prison, with additional charges pending against him.
Hasan Özgün, Özgür Gündem
Imprisoned: December 9, 1993
CPJ believes that Özgün's imprisonment is a result of his
work as a journalist and is of a piece with the state's well-documented
harassment of Özgür Gündem. Özgün, Diyarbakir
correspondent for Özgür Gündem, was taken into custody
during a police raid on the paper's Diyarbakir bureau and charged under
Article 168 of the Penal Code with being a member of the outlawed Kurdistan
Workers' Party (PKK). He was sentenced to 12 years and five months in prison.
Transcripts of Özgün's trial show that
the prosecution based its case on what it described as Özgür
Gündem's pro-PKK slant. The prosecution also used as evidence
copies of banned PKK publications (Serkhabun and Berxehun)
found in Özgün's possession, as well as photographs and biographical
sketches of PKK members found in the newspaper's archive. The state further
cited Özgün's possession of an unauthorized handgun as evidence
of his membership in the PKK.
In his defense, Özgün maintained that
the PKK publications were used as sources of information and that the photos
of PKK members found in the archive were related to interviews the newspaper
had conducted. Özgün admitted to purchasing the gun on the black
market, but denied all other charges.
The Ministry of Justice replied to CPJ's request
for information saying that "In fact, Mr. Özgün had extensive
ties to the PKK terrorist organization. Accordingly, he was convicted of
the following charges: being an active member of the PKK terrorist organization;
being a courier for the PKK's mountain team; inciting the public to participate
in propaganda activities organized by the PKK; informing the PKK of rich
locals who could be targeted for extortion and ransom schemes organized
by the organization; supplying food and medicine for the members of the
PKK terrorist organization; carrying a gun without a license; providing
arms for PKK mountain teams; distributing separatist propaganda material
on behalf of the PKK terrorist organization."
RSF and International PEN have voiced strong objections
to Özgün's prosecution. RSF reported that on the day after Özgün's
arrest, more than 150 journalists and employees of Özgür Gündem
were arrested throughout the country. RSF noted that the accusation
against Özgün was based on the discovery in the Özgür
Gündem office of petitions signed by detained PKK members. Responding
to an RSF letter, the Turkish Embassy in France stated that "Mr. Hasan
Özgün, not having the title of journalist, was accused of belonging
to the terrorist organization PKK, for having organized activities on behalf
of this organization, for publicity and praise of said organization in
the paper, for having given the organization the names of wealthy people
for levying a compulsory tax for financing PKK, for possession of an illegal
weapon, for having smuggled arms to terrorists posted in the mountainous
areas of southeastern Anatolia, for having kept in his house and distributed
numerous pamphlets and other pro-PKK publicity materials."
According to RSF, Özgün told the court
that petitions belonging to detained PKK members had been entrusted to
him by people close to the prisoners so that he could write an article
about their case. Özgün denied ever having been a PKK member
and complained that both he and Özgür Gündem were
International PEN, in its mid-year 1997 report,
concluded that Özgün did not receive a fair trial, noting that
he had additionally been accused of arranging medical treatment for PKK
guerrillas and having communicated with PKK guerrillas in prison. PEN's
report said that "part of the evidence [was] said to relate to [an] interview
with [a] PKK leader published in Özgür Gündem. Defense
says the [same] interview was run in other Turkish newspapers without charges
Özgün is currently in Aydin Prison.
Kemal Sahin, Özgür Gündem
Imprisoned: November 1995
Sahin, the former editor in chief of Ozgür Gündem,
was arrested and charged with membership the outlawed Kurdistan Workers'
Party (PKK). CPJ believes that his prosecution and imprisonment are part
of a campaign of harassment against Özgur Gündem.
Sahin had initially been convicted of violating
Articles 6, 7, and 8 of the Anti-Terror Law and Article 312 of the Penal
Code for articles published in the newspaper during his tenure as editor.
Court documents from his trial on the Article 8 charges (disseminating
separatist propaganda) show that among the numerous, mostly unspecified
articles cited by the prosecution was one that appeared in Özgür
Gündem on October 10, 1994, titled "Escape from the Army."
Sahin was sentenced to seven years and eight months
in prison and fined more than 319 million TL (US$1,595) for the Article
8 conviction. It is unclear whether he was ever imprisoned on these charges,
which were subsequently suspended by the government's August 14 limited
amnesty for editors. Additional charges were brought against him under
Article 168 of the Penal Code, however, for which he was arrested, charged,
and eventually imprisoned.
Sahin's lawyer told CPJ that the new charges against
him were based on the testimony of Sahin's brother, who accused him of
being a member of the PKK. It is unclear whether Sahin's brother had been
coerced into giving this testimony. Sahin is being held in Umraniye Prison