A demonstrator walks around a bonfire to mark the spring festival of Newroz in the southeastern Turkish city of Diyarbakır, March 21, 2016. Ethnic Kurds marked the occasion last year with a demonstration calling for the resumption of peace talks with the government. (Reuters/Sertac Kayar)
A demonstrator walks around a bonfire to mark the spring festival of Newroz in the southeastern Turkish city of Diyarbakır, March 21, 2016. Ethnic Kurds marked the occasion last year with a demonstration calling for the resumption of peace talks with the government. (Reuters/Sertac Kayar)

Turkey Crackdown Chronicle: Week of March 19, 2017

Security forces detain reporter in southeastern Turkey
Security forces in the southeastern province of Mardin today detained Dihaber reporter Murat Verim, the news agency reported. Dihaber said the arrest was part of an ongoing terrorism investigation.

Censors deem Turkish edition of Elle magazine ‘obscene’
The Board of Protecting Minors from Obscene Publications, which operates out of the prime minister’s office, deemed the March 2017 issue of the Turkish edition of Elle magazine an “obscene publication” and required that it be sold in an opaque bag and labeled “harmful for minors,” the news website Gazete Duvar reported.

Radio journalist detained in southeastern Turkey
The press freedom collective I Am a Journalist reported that security forces in the southeastern city of Tunceli yesterday detained Mehmet Çağrı, editor of the local Munger radio station. The collective said that Çağrı was caught in a broader arrest campaign.

Prosecutors ask court to jail reporter pending trial
Prosecutors in Ankara asked a court to imprison Hayri Demir, a Dihaber reporter detained more than a week ago, pending trial on terrorism charges, his employer reported on Twitter today.

Leftist website blocked for 17th time
Leftist news website sendika.org reported yesterday that the BTW, Turkey’s telecommunications regulator, had blocked access to their web address for the 17th time. The site is continuing to publish at a new address, sendika16.org.

[March 24, 2017]

Erdoğan calls imprisoned journalists terrorists, child molesters
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan today called journalists imprisoned in the country terrorists, child molesters, and murderers, the daily newspaper Cumhuriyet reported.

“We said, ‘Give us the list of the journalists in prison.’ All kinds are in there: from the murderer to the child molester. A list of 149 people came, of which 144 are imprisoned for terrorism, and four for petty crimes,” Erdoğan told members of a publishers’ association visiting the presidential complex in Ankara.

Dozens of journalists imprisoned in Turkey have not yet been indicted and are held in pretrial detention.

Erdoğan defended the continuing detention of Die Welt’s Turkey correspondent Deniz Yücel, who is a dual citizen of Turkey and Germany, and described his conversations with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on the matter.

“We will never compromise with those who act as militants of terrorist organizations [and] agents of foreign agencies under the cover of being a member of the media. This man comes, a total agent-terrorist. What is he? A member of the press. [German diplomats] hosted [him]…in Istanbul for a month. They hosted him for a month, just below our presidential villa at Tarabya, at the seaside. The chancellor says, ‘We have a journalist here. We want you to let him go especially.’ I say: ‘I have given you the dossiers of 4,500 PKK [The Kurdistan Workers’ Party] terrorists and wanted these terrorists to be returned. Did you deliver that?’ ‘The judiciary is overseeing it.’ So, let our judiciary oversee it, too.”

The president then said that the judiciary in Turkey is independent and the government cannot interfere with it.

Erdoğan then reminded his audience that the western countries are blaming Turkey for violating press freedom and jailing journalists.

“So, your freedom. You are free enough to call the president of the free country of Turkey a ‘dictator.’ In my country, we are not to make the slightest intervention to those who make every kind of insult to their own president, [who] show disrespect with various kinds of caricatures. But are we not going to exercise our right to go the judiciary, too? … We respect whatever the judiciary decides.”

Three journalists among eight wanted for murder of journalist Hrant Dink
Arrest warrants were issued for eight people, including three journalists, in connection with the 2007 murder of journalist Hrant Dink, according to news reports citing AFP. Ekrem Dumanlı, the former editor of the shuttered daily Zaman, Adem Yavuz Arslan, former Ankara representative of the shuttered newspaper Bugün, and Faruk Mercanlı, who wrote for both newspapers, were already wanted for arrest on terrorism charges for their alleged membership in the Hizmet network, which the Turkish government classes as a terrorist organization and blames for a failed, July 2016 military coup.

[March 22, 2017]

Police detain reporter in eastern Turkey
Police in the eastern Turkish city of Van today detained Selman Keleş, a correspondent for the news website Dihaber, the website reported, without offering further details. The reason for Keleş’ detention were not immediately clear.

Three face terrorism trial for showing support for shuttered newspaper
Istanbul’s 13th Court for Serious Crimes at Çağlayan Courthouse today briefly considered the case of a press freedom advocate, a columnist, a writer, and an editor on charges of “propagandizing for a [terrorist] organization” in connection with the contents of the shuttered newspaper Özgür Gündem. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) Turkey Representative Erol Önderoğlu, daily Evrensel columnist and forensic scientist Şebnem Korur Fincancı, and writer Ahmet Aziz Nesin were among dozens of people who symbolically acted as co-editor of Özgür Gündem for a day to protest authorities’ relentless judicial harassment of its staff before police raided and sealed its office in August 2016. Özgür Gündem Responsible Editor İnan Kızılkaya is also defendant in this case and more than 100 other trials for the newspaper’s coverage, as his job made him legally responsible for the entire contents of each edition of the newspaper.

Today’s session, which CPJ attended, was brief. Nesin was expected to testify, but was not present. The court accordingly issued a warrant for his arrest and decided to reconvene on June 8.

[March 21, 2017]

Two journalists briefly detained in Diyarbakır
Security forces in the southeastern Turkish city of Diyarbakır briefly detained German photojournalist Hinrich Shultze today as he accompanied Kurdish politicians from the opposition People’s Democratic Party (HDP) handing out invitations for tomorrow’s celebration of the spring festival Newroz, the news website Dihaber reported. Security forces searched Schultze and held him in an armored vehicle for about half an hour, the website reported. Dihaber’s reporter, Bilal Güldem, was also detained for reporting on the Shultze’s detention, but the politicians managed to convince security forces to release them both, according to Dihaber.

[March 20, 2017]