Journalists and activists march for press freedom in Ankara, March 19, 2011. (Reuters/Umit Bektas)
Journalists and activists march for press freedom in Ankara, March 19, 2011. (Reuters/Umit Bektas)

Turkey Crackdown Chronicle: Week of December 4

Wire reporter released pending conclusion of trial
Mardin’s Second Court for Serious Crimes today released Zehra Doğan, a reporter for the shuttered news agency JİNHA, pending the conclusion of her trial, which began today, the pro-Kurdish Dihaber news agency reported. Police detained Doğan on July 22, and a court arraigned her on terrorism charges on July 24, CPJ reported at the time.

Newspaper office attacked
Roughly 30 people wearing masks attacked the Istanbul office of the newspaper Yeni Çağ, the nationalist daily reported today. According to the report, which was accompanied by security camera footage, the group attacked the building in Istanbul’s Yenibosna neighborhood last night and damaged the lobby and vehicles parked outside. Nobody was hurt in the incident. Police have begun an investigation, Yeni Çağ reported. Yeni Çağ is close to the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), particularly a dissident faction within the party, rather than the current leadership.

Prosecutor censors newspaper for alleging company tied to environment minister illegally dumping toxic waste
A prosecutor in the central Turkish province of Kayseri yesterday banned the December 8 edition of the local newspaper Kayseri Deniz Postası, the national newspaper Cumhuriyet reported. The censored edition contained a story, which ran on Kayseri Deniz Postası‘s website, alleging that the company Kartek was burying toxic waste near a basalt mine it operates. Environment Minister Mehmet Özhaseki owns 3.3 percent of shares in the company, according to Cumhuriyet.

According to the Cumhuriyet report, Kartek official Aytekin Aydemir learned about the story the night before its publication, denied its veracity, and filed a complaint demanding the daily to not to be allowed to distribute the edition and banning the story. A local prosecutor approved the demand and ordered the edition not to be distributed.

Lawmakers from Turkey’s largest opposition party, the Republican People’s Party (CHP), visited the newspaper’s office yesterday. According to Cumhuriyet, CHP Member of Parliament Gürsel Tekin asked, “How did the prosecutor decide at 2:00 a.m. that this story is a lie, a libel?”

Environment Minister Özhaseki denied the newspaper’s allegations about the company, said that he inherited his shares in the company from his father, and that he would donate the shares to anyone the CHP chose if the allegations about the company were proven correct.

State to withhold advertising revenue from newspapers with Kurdish-language content
Turkey’s official Press Advertisement Institution–which distributes official advertisements to newspapers, an important source of revenue for many small publications–has issued an advisory that, effective January 1, it will withhold advertising from publications that have pages in any language but Turkish, or that employ journalists who face criminal prosecution, Journo, the publication of the Turkish Journalists’ Association (TGS) reported. Many local newspapers, particularly in Turkey’s predominantly ethnic-Kurdish southeastern provinces, run pages in Kurdish, and depend on state advertising revenue to survive. Tigris, a Turkish-language newspaper published in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır, told Journo that it had one page in Kurdish, and had planned to add a second, but that they have had to delay that plan. Özgür Haber and Yeni Gün, two other local dailies, cancelled their Kurdish-language pages but intend to bring them back when they can, the report said.

Children of jailed journalist change surname because of bullying
Children of jailed journalist Mehmet Baransu had their surname changed because fellow students were bullying them at school, the English-language website Turkish Minute reported. Baransu is jailed pending the conclusion of his trial on charges of obtaining secret documents and propagandizing against the state for the benefit of followers of exiled preacher Fethullah Gülen.

“The children were harassed at school and outside by [students] calling them ‘sons of a Gülenist.’ The eldest child could no longer leave the house…” a relative of Esra Konur, the mother of the children, told the court that approved the name change, Turkish Minute reported.

Radio station website blocked
Turkish authorities blocked the website of the radio station Özgür Radyo, which the government ordered closed by emergency decree after July’s failed military coup, Etkin News Agency reported yesterday. The station continued to broadcast online, but authorities blocked its website,, according to Etkin’s report yesterday. Özgür Radyo continues to broadcast online at

[December 9, 2016]

Wire reporter jailed pending trial on terrorism charges
Police in Turkey’s eastern Elazığ province yesterday arrested Mehmet Güleş, a reporter for the pro-Kurdish Dihaber news agency, the daily newspaper Evrensel and Dihaber reported. Güleş was detained with at least six others on suspicion of “being member of a [terrorist] organization,” according to press reports. The journalist is at Elazığ Police Directorate.

Dihaber reported today that a court in Elazığ ordered Güleş jailed pending trial on the terrorism charge, based in part on his phone conversations with journalistic sources and his reports for the pro-Kurdish DİHA news agency, which the government closed by emergency decree in October. That Güleş reported in real time from street battles between ethnic-Kurdish youth and Turkish security forces in Silopi was also used as evidence against him. The Elazığ Court found that Güleş praised the outlawed Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) and criticized security forces in his reports, according to Dihaber. Güleş was sent to Elazığ Prison, pending trial, the news agency reported.

Socialist news website blocked
Socialist news website on December 5 announced that authorities had blocked it for the 14th time. The website accordingly began publishing at a new URL,

Poet, religious leader to stand trial following show of support for shuttered newspaper
Columnist and poet Hüseyin Tahmaz and Hasan Hayri Şanlı, a leader of the Alevi sect of Islam, will stand trial on charges of “making propaganda for a terrorist organization” in connection with the coverage of now-shuttered daily newspaper Özgür Gündem on the days each symbolically acted as co-editor to protest authorities’ persistent judicial harassment of the newspaper’s staff, Evrensel reported.

İnan Kızılkaya, Özgür Gündem‘s jailed responsible news editor, will be a co-defendant in each trial, since his former position made him legally responsible everything the newspaper published.

[December 7, 2016]

Opposition MP visits jailed journalists
Utku Çakırözer, a member of parliament for the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), was allowed to visit 11 journalists jailed in Istanbul, the daily newspaper Cumhuriyet reported yesterday. The lawmaker visited Necmiye Alpay, Aslı Erdogan, Ayşe Nazlı Ilıcak, and Hanım Büşra Erdal at Bakırköy Women’s Prison, Ahmet and Mehmet Altan, Ahmet Turan Alkan, Ali Bulaç, Şahin Alpay, Murat Aksoy and Atilla Taş at Silivri Prison, according to the report.

Çakırözer reported that the journalists complained that their family visitation rights had been circumscribed, that they could not send or receive letters, that they were allowed to read only the books in the prison library, and that they were allowed to meet with their lawyers only once a week, for an hour, and only in the presence of a prison guard while being videotaped.

Some of the elderly journalists are chronically ill and complained of difficulty in getting medical attention and medicine, Çakırözer said, according to Cumhuriyet.

[December 5, 2016]