Journalists cover their mouths to protest the April 1, 2016, trial of Cumhuriyet journalists in Istanbul. (Emrah Gurel/AP)
Journalists cover their mouths to protest the April 1, 2016, trial of Cumhuriyet journalists in Istanbul. (Emrah Gurel/AP)

Turkey Crackdown Chronicle: Week of May 29

Turkish journalists launch solidarity campaign for jailed colleagues
The Free Journalists Association (ÖGC) on Thursday afternoon held a press conference in front of Istanbul’s Diyarbakır courthouse to announce a new campaign to show solidarity with their jailed peers. ÖGC co-chairs Nevin Erdemir and Hakkı Boltan read aloud a list of 46 detained journalists whose trials they vowed the organization would follow, relying on volunteer correspondents in 13 provinces of Turkey. The group said it would also make statements every Thursday testifying to their colleagues’ innocence.

[June 3, 2016]

Turkey’s Media Crackdown

Reports: Prosecutors investigate nine TV channels, two newspapers on terrorism charges
Prosecutors in Ankara have opened investigations into nine television stations and two daily newspapers on suspicion of spreading propaganda for a terrorist organization, Dicle News Agency and the news website Haberdar reported today.

According to the news reports, prosecutors from the Office of Crimes Against the Constitution are investigating broadcasters İMC TV, Hayat TV, MED NUÇE TV, STREK TV, K24, VAN TV, RONAHİ TV, NEWROZ TV and the daily newspapers Evrensel and Özgür Gündem on suspicion of making propaganda for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which Turkey classes as a terrorist organization. Can Erzincan TV stands accused of producing propaganda for the Hizmet movement, followers of exiled preacher Fethullah Gülen, whom the government accuses of maintaining a terrorist organization and “parallel state structure” within Turkey.

Journalist arrested for social media posts
Police arrested freelance journalist Emin Demir, who previously worked as a full-time reporter for the pro-Kurdish Dicle News Agency, in southeastern city of Mersin on May 31 on charges of “making propaganda for a terrorist organization,” the PKK, in his posts to social-media websites, Evrensel reported, citing the Dicle News Agency.

Demir denied the charges at his arraignment, saying he posted only material from legally registered news organs. The journalist’s lawyer, Abdulselam Demir, unsuccessfully argued that his client should not be considered a flight risk because he had willingly answered the police summons for interrogation. The court instead sent Demir to Mersin Prison, pending trial. No date has yet been fixed for the trial, the Evrensel reported, citing the Dicle News Agency.

[June 2, 2016]

Prosecutors say will not charge police filmed beating journalist
Prosecutors in Istanbul will not pursue charges against police officers accused of beating Hüseyin Gökhan Biçici, of the broadcaster IMC, as he filmed protests around central Istanbul’s Gezi Park in June 2013, Evrensel newspaper reported today. A video a witness took of the incident was widely distributed on Turkish social media, sparking outrage.

Biçici said he would appeal to the Constitutional Court, according to Evrensel. His lawyer, Metin İriz, said he had presented the video evidence and medical reports to prosecutors as evidence of mistreatment.

Biçici met with a delegation from the Committee to Protect Journalists in September 2013 and described how police ripped off his gas mask and repeatedly beat him with clubs, focusing on his genitals. Police beat dozens of journalists during the protests, CPJ reported at the time.

[June 1, 2016]

Journalist to stand trial for showing solidarity with embattled newspaper, five more interrogated
Istanbul’s 14th Court of Serious Crimes will try journalist and author Ertuğrul Mavioğlu on September 29, 2016, on charges arising from his having symbolically acted as the co-editor of the pro-Kurdish daily Özgür Gündem for the May 10, 2016, edition to protest the judicial harassment of the newspaper, Mavioğlu told the Committee to Protect Journalists.

According to the indictment, which the journalist shared with CPJ, Mavioğlu and Özgür Gündem News Editor İnan Kızılkaya will stand trial on charges of “openly provoking [the people] to commit crimes,” “praising a crime and a criminal,” and “making propaganda for a terrorist organization,” in connection with the May 10 edition of the paper’s reporting on urban warfare between Turkish youth — some of whom are loyal to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which Turkey classes as a terrorist organization — and Turkish security forces in southeastern Turkey.

Over the course of the past month, Turkish journalists have taken turns symbolically acting as visiting co-editor of the newspaper for a day to protest prosecutors’ persistent harassment of the newspaper. Authorities have opened investigations into many of those who participated in the protest.

Prosecutors interrogated four other journalists and one lawyer who took part in the campaign today. Journalists Nurcan Baysal, Celal Başlangıç, Ahmet Abakay, and Fehim Işık, as well as lawyer Eşber Yağmurdereli all answered prosecutors’ questions regarding their show of solidarity with the newspaper, the daily Evrensel reported.

[May 31, 2016]