A demonstrator carrying a carnation to commemorate last year's bombing of a train station in Ankara meets a policeman in riot gear, October 10, 2016. (Reuters/Umit Bektas)
A demonstrator carrying a carnation to commemorate last year's bombing of a train station in Ankara meets a policeman in riot gear, October 10, 2016. (Reuters/Umit Bektas)

Turkey Crackdown Chronicle: Week of October 16

Man accused of shooting at award-winning editor freed pending trial
A court in Istanbul today ordered Murat Şahin–the man accused of attempting to shoot former Cumhuriyet newspaper editor Can Dündar during a break in Dündar’s trial on May 6–released pending the conclusion of his trial, Hürriyet Daily News reported.

Turkey’s Media Crackdown

Turkey’s official Anatolia News Agency (AA) reported that the court ruled to release Şahin in consideration of the charges against him and the time he had served. Cumhuriyet, AA, and the Doğan News Agency reported that his lawyer had asked the court to free his client, if necessary on probation and with a ban on his traveling outside Turkey, but none of these reports specifically indicated whether the judge imposed any conditions on Şahin’s arrest.

Responding to the news on Twitter, Dündar, who resigned his editorship and went into exile in August, wrote: “This too, happened. Judicial approval for attack on press. The assailant is free.”

Dündar is a recipient of the Committee to Protect Journalists’ 2016 International Press Freedom Award.

Jailed reporter transferred to prison farther from family, lawyer
Prison authorities transferred Evrensel reporter Cemil Uğur from Mersin Prison to a prison in Hatay, roughly 300 kilometers away, his employer reported. Uğur’s lawyer, Tugay Bek, alleged authorities transferred the journalist to complicate the preparation of his defense and to make it more difficult for his family to visit him.

Police detained Uğur on August 23 alongside his colleague Halil Polat as they covered a protest, CPJ reported at the time.

Journalist faces criminal investigation for story on memorial service for slain Kurdish fighter
Journalist Oktay Candemir, reporter for the Fırat News Agency (ANF), faces a criminal investigation on charges of “propagandizing for a [terrorist] organization” following his report on a memorial service for a slain fighter from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the eastern province of Van, the local news website Van Aktüel reported on October 18. The Turkish government classes the PKK as a terrorist organization.

[October 21, 2016]

Jailed journalists suffer from health problems, MP says
Journalists Ali Bulaç and Şahin Alpay, jailed pending trial on terrorism charges in Istanbul’s Silivri Prison, are suffering from health problems in custody, Mehmet Bekaroğlu, a lawmaker with the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) told the daily Cumhuriyet today. Bekaroğlu visited jailed journalists Ahmet Altan, his brother Mehmet Altan, Murat Aksoy, Ali Bulaç, Ahmet Turan Alkan, Şahin Alpay, and Mustafa Ünal.

Bekaroğlu told the newspaper that Bulaç, a former columnist for the shuttered Zaman newspaper, told him that he was not subjected to physical abuse but was threatened and insulted during testimony.

Bulaç told the Bekaroğlu that a police officer had told him, “Ali Bulaç, you will suffer a lot more…You do not realize the value of the chief; you do not realize his goodness, his honesty. Now you are suffering here like this at this age. You will suffer more.” The lawmaker said the journalists’ also complained of not being allowed to send or receive mail or to have books to read.

[October 20, 2016]

Erdoğan drops ‘insult’ charges against editor
Lawyers for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan dropped charges of insulting the president against Barış Pehlivan, editor-in-chief of the news website Odatv, the website reported today.

[October 19, 2016]

Award-winning editor, musician, and journalist indicted on terrorism charges
Istanbul’s 22nd Court for Serious Crimes yesterday indicted Can Dündar, the former editor of Cumhuriyet newspaper, and a recipient of the Committee to Protect Journalist’s 2016 International Press Freedom Awards, on charges of “printing and publishing the publications of a [terrorist] organization.” Dündar was among dozens of journalists, activists, and celebrities who symbolically acted as co-editor of the pro-Kurdish daily newspaper Özgür Gündem to protest the judicial harassment of the newspaper’s staff before a court ordered the paper closed in August. The musician Şanar Yurdatapan and İnan Kızılkaya, the newspaper’s former responsible news editor, were also indicted in the case, according to the news website Gazete Karınca. The first hearing in the case is scheduled for December 22.

Three arraigned on terrorism charges for radio broadcasts
A court in the southern Turkish city Urfa today arraigned three people on charges of “propagandizing for a [terrorist] organization” in connection with broadcasts by Radio Karacadağ, which the government shuttered on September 30 by decree, the pro-Kurdish Dicle News Agency (DİHA) reported.

Police detained Ayşe Sürücü, the co-chair of the Urfa provincial office of the opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), on October 5. Prosecutors subsequently charged her with propagandizing for a terrorist organization based on comments she made in an interview on Radio Karacadağ. The court in Urfa today ordered her released.

Police detained Sadık Demir, chairman of the board of Fırat Press Broadcast, Radio Karacadağ’s parent company, on October 1, immediately after the station was shuttered. Police detained Salih Erbekler, an employee at Radio Karacadağ, on October 3. The court in Urfa ordered Demir, Erbekler, and Mizgin Çay jailed in Urfa Prison pending trial.

Police seek three more journalists on suspicion of promoting coup attempt
Police are searching for Abdülkerim Balcı, a former columnist for the shuttered daily newspaper Zaman, Şemsettin Efe, a former reporter for the newspaper, and Bülent Keneş, the former editor of Zaman‘s English-language sister publication, Today’s Zaman, CNNTurk reported yesterday, citing İhlas News Agency (IHA). Prosecutors accuse the three of taking part in a failed coup attempt in July by promoting it over visual and social media.

[October 18, 2016]

Police detain news agency reporter
Police in the eastern Turkish province Muş detained İdris Sayılgan, a reporter for the pro-Kurdish Dicle News Agency (DİHA), from his home in Yeşilyurt this morning, his employer reported. DİHA reported that police broke doors and windows in the arrest raid, searched the house, threatened his family, and beat the journalist as they took him into custody. They confiscated his camera, video camera, and memory cards, the news agency reported. The reason for his detention is not yet known.

[October 17, 2016]