Opposition protesters shout slogans in Istanbul, April 17, 2017. (Reuters/Yagiz Karahan)
Opposition protesters shout slogans in Istanbul, April 17, 2017. (Reuters/Yagiz Karahan)

Turkey Crackdown Chronicle: Week of April 16, 2017

Wire reporter jailed
The Supreme Court of Appeals on April 14 upheld the Second Mardin Court for Serious Crimes’ November 2016 sentence of two years and four months in prison against Meltem Oktay on charges of “making propaganda for a terrorist organization,” the news website Dihaber reported yesterday.

Oktay, a former reporter for the shuttered pro-Kurdish Dicle News Agency (DİHA), had been free pending the conclusion of her appeal, CPJ reported at the time. She was sent to Gebze Women’s Prison in Kocaeli Province to serve her sentence.

Police raid editor’s home, detain him
Police in Urfa detained İbrahim Uygur, news editor for the regional news agency Urfadabugun (“Today in Urfa”), in an early morning raid of his home, Dihaber reported today. At the time of publication, Anti-Terrorism Police were interrogating him on suspicion of producing “terrorism propaganda,” Dihaber reported.

Police raid news website office, detain editor
Police in Istanbul raided the offices of leftist news website sendika.org early this morning and arrested its news editor, Ali Ergin Demirhan, sendika.org reported today.

“Our office was raided at 5:50 [a.m.],” Demirhan tweeted at the time. “I am being detained on the accusation of ‘making the yes [referendum vote] seem illegitimate.'”

Sendika.org reported on protests against the referendum vote, and announced them ahead of time. The website reported that the raid followed the pro-Government daily newspaper Star‘s coverage of Sendika.org‘s coverage of the protests.

Photojournalist detained covering protests against referendum
Police on April 17 detained Kazım Kızıl, a photojournalist for the website Kamera Sokak, as he documented a protest in the western city of Izmir against alleged irregularities in the previous day’s referendum on amendments to Turkey’s constitution that give the presidency more power, Demokrat Haber and the volunteer press freedom collective Ben Gazeteciyim reported today.

Police raid editor’s house
Police also raided the home of Abdurrahman Gök, an editor for Dihaber in Turkey’s southeastern province of Diyarbakır, his employer reported today. Gök was not home at the time, the website reported. Police told his housemate that the journalist was under investigation in Ankara, and that he should turn himself in for questioning, according to the report, which also said that police trashed the house for one and a half hours, confiscated four books, a magazine, and two unused cell phones. Gök is the journalist who documented the police shooting of university student Kemal Kurkut in March.

Editor detained, released on probation
Police in Istanbul yesterday detained Hakan Gülseven, editor of the leftist news website Redaktif, then released him on probation pending the conclusion of an investigation into charges he “insulted state officials,” the news website Diken reported.

Newspaper website blocked for 14th time
The Turkish regulator BTK blocked access to the website of the pro-Kurdish daily newspaper Özgürlükçü Demokrasi, the newspaper reported today. They are continuing to publish at a new address, demokrasi13.com.

Detained Italian documentary filmmaker transferred to Ankara
Police transferred detained Italian documentary filmmaker Gabriele Del Grande from a detention center in Hatay Province to the capital Ankara the daily Cumhuriyet reported today. After talking to their Turkish counterparts, Italian authorities had expected the journalist to be deported on April 13 and do not know why the deportation was delayed, the report said.

[April 20, 2017]

Newspaper accountant jailed pending trial
Istanbul’s 12th Court of Penal Peace ordered Emre İper, an accountant at the beleaguered daily newspaper Cumhuriyet, jailed pending trial on secret charges, Cumhuriyet reported. The investigation is secret by court order, but the newspaper reported that prosecutors cited as evidence the accountant’s allegedly having downloaded the mobile phone program Bylock and a political comment he made on Twitter. Turkish security forces have said that followers of exiled preacher Fethullah Gülen use the program to communicate, and accuse his followers of maintaining a terrorist organization and “parallel state structure” that the government blames for a failed July 2016 military coup.

The court also ordered motorbike newspaper courier Yavuz Yakışkan released on probation, Cumhuriyet reported, without elaborating.

Italian journalist jailed in Turkey to begin hunger strike
Italian journalist Gabriele Del Grande, who was detained 10 days ago in the southeastern province of Hatay, said he would begin a hunger strike today, BBC Turkish and the news website Bianet reported.

Reporter arrested following referendum protest
Police detained Murat Bay, a reporter for the leftist website sendika.org, following a protest against alleged irregularities in a referendum on constitutional amendments in the Beşiktaş neighborhood of Istanbul, the leftist daily newspaper Evrensel reported on April 17, without elaborating.

Police detain wire reporter
Police in the central Turkish city of Eskişehir detained Dihaber reporter Nametullah Başar as he worked, his employer wrote on Twitter and the news website Gazete Karınca reported. The police did not accept the journalist’s credentials, the report said.

Leftist news website blocked for 29th time
sendika.org tweeted on Monday that the BTK blocked their web address to reach from Turkey for the 29th time.

Prosecutors charge six journalists with ‘insulting the Turkish nation’
Istanbul’s Chief Prosecutor’s Office charged six journalists with “insulting the Turkish nation, republic, parliament, and security organs,” based on article 301 of the Turkish penal code, Evrensel reported on April 17. After the law attracted domestic and international criticism for its use to prosecute famous intellectuals, it was modified in 2008 to require prosecutors to seek permission from the Justice Ministry to bring charges under its provisions.

Prosecutors will charge Selman Keleş, Özgür Paksoy, Kenan Kırkaya, Aziz Oruç (reporters for the shuttered pro-Kurdish Dicle News Agency, or DİHA), Ersin Çaksu (editor of the pro-Kurdish daily newspaper Özgürlükçü Demokrasi), and İhsak Yasul (news editor for Özgürlükçü Demokrasi) under the law’s provisions based on their reporting of Turkish military actions in predominantly ethnic-Kurdish cities in southeastern Turkey.

[April 19, 2017]