Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan chairs a meeting of the National Security Council in Ankara, January 31, 2017. (Kayhan Ozer/Presidential Press Service/Pool via AP)
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan chairs a meeting of the National Security Council in Ankara, January 31, 2017. (Kayhan Ozer/Presidential Press Service/Pool via AP)

Turkey Crackdown Chronicle: Week of February 5

German court upholds partial ban on poem satirizing Erdoğan
A court in the German city of Hamburg today upheld a previous court’s ban on comedian Jan Böhmermann’s reciting 18 of 24 verses of a poem satirizing Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan that the comedian recited on television last year, according to press reports. Erdoğan pressed insult charges against the comedian.

[February 10, 2017]

Reporter released pending trial after 10 months’ detention
Sakarya’s Second Court for Serious Crimes yesterday ordered Muhammed Doğru, a trainee reporter for the shuttered Dicle News Agency (DİHA), released on probation pending the conclusion of his trial, the daily newspaper Evrensel reported.

Police arrested the young reporter in April 2016, CPJ reported at the time.

Government cancels fines for biased elections coverage
The Turkish government last night issued a decree, number 687, stripping the High Board of Elections (YSK) of its authority to fine private radio and TV stations for airing biased election coverage, the daily newspaper Özgürlükçü Demokrasi reported.

Turkey is expected to vote in April on a referendum on constitutional amendments that would give the president greater powers.

Newspaper distributors released
Police on February 7 released 10 of 11 newspaper distributors detained in the eastern province of Van over the weekend, the news website Gazete Sujin reported.

Police continue to hold Osman İnal on unrelated charges, the website reported, without elaborating.

[February 9, 2017]

Prosecutors charge shuttered socialist TV station with supporting Islamic State group
Prosecutors in Istanbul have prepared an indictment against the shuttered television station Hayatın Sesi TV, charging the socialist broadcaster with propagandizing for the Islamic State group and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), both of which the government considers terrorist organizations.

The government used emergency powers to order the broadcaster closed by decree in September 2016.

According to the document, which the Committee to Protect Journalists has reviewed, prosecutors charge that the broadcaster’s coverage of Turkish workers abducted in Iraq in 2015 constituted propaganda for the Islamic State group, and that its coverage of fighting between security forces and ethnic Kurds in southeastern Turkey constituted propaganda for the PKK. They further charged that the station’s coverage of bomb attacks in the Ankara and Istanbul constituted propaganda for terrorism writ large.

A court has not yet accepted the indictment.

Eleven newspaper distributors detained
Eleven distributors of the pro-Kurdish Rojava Medya and Özgürlükçü Demokrasi newspapers in Turkey’s eastern Van Province remain detained following a series of arrests over the weekend, the socialist daily newspaper Evrensel reported on February 5. Police are detaining Ferit Aktepe, Osman İnal, Delil Babat, Ramazan Çınar, Engin Direk, Resul Genç, Adnan Külter, Aykut Kılıç, Hamdullah Kumli, Emrullah Kapar and someone named Göknur, whose surname was not published, the newspaper reported.

[February 7, 2017]

Police detain four pro-Kurdish newspaper distributors
Police in the eastern Turkish province of Van on February 4 detained four distributors of the pro-Kurdish newspapers Özgürlükçü Demokrasi and Rojava Medya, the news website 1habervar.com reported. Ferit Aktepe, Osman İnal, Hamdullah Kumli, and Delil Babat were detained in a raid of the newspapers’ distribution office in the Merkez İpekyolu District. It was not clear what charges, if any, the four will face. Turkish authorities regularly detain journalists and staff of pro-Kurdish media outlets and charge them with being members of, or propagandizing for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which the Turkish government classes as a terrorist group.

[February 6, 2017]