A January 18, 2012, file photo shows a laptop in the San Francisco offices of the Wikipedia Foundation. (AP/Eric Risberg)
A January 18, 2012, file photo shows a laptop in the San Francisco offices of the Wikipedia Foundation. (AP/Eric Risberg)

Turkey Crackdown Chronicle: Week of April 30, 2017

Court overturns reporter’s terrorism conviction
The Fourth Court of Appeals in the southeastern Turkish city of Diyarbakır today overturned its previous conviction of Bertitan Canözer, a former reporter for the shuttered JİNHA news agency, on charges of “making propaganda for a terrorist organization,” the news website Gazete Sujin reported. Police detained Canözer in December 2015 as she covered a protest in Diyarbakır, CPJ reported at the time. In March 2016, a court ordered her released pending the conclusion of her trial, and in May 2016 Diyarbakır’s Fourth Court of Appeals convicted her of the charge and gave her a suspended, 15-month prison sentence, CPJ reported at the time. According to today’s Gazete Sujin report, the regional Gaziantep Appeals Court ordered the Diyarbakır court to grant her a retrial.

Shuttered broadcasters sold to pro-government media company
The pro-government media group Turkuvaz bought six broadcasters the government shuttered in the wake of a failed July 2016 military coup, alleging they were affiliated with the Hizmet movement–or FETÖ, as the government calls it–which the government blames for orchestrating the failed coup. The leftist daily newspaper Birgün reported that Turkuvaz bought Samanyolu TV, Kanaltürk TV and radio, Burç FM Radio, Radio Mehtap, and Radio Cihan from the Savings Deposit Insurance Fund–which, according to media reports, is the titular owner of 809 media companies seized by the government–for an amount Birgün did not specify.

According to the English-language website Turkey Purge, which reports on arrests of those accused of affiliation with the Hizmet movement, Serhat Albayrak, the brother of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s son-in-law and Energy Minister Berat Albayrak, is Turkuvaz’s chairman, and Erdoğan’s friend, Ömer Faruk Kalyoncu, is its owner. Erdoğan was a witness at Kalyoncu’s wedding in 2004, the website said.

Turkuvaz also owns the pro-government Sabah newspaper and the pro-government broadcaster ATV.

Police detain editor
Police in the western Turkish province of bursa yesterday detained Ozan Kaplanoğlu, an editor for the local news website Bursa Muhalif, and transferred him to court today, asking that a judge jail him pending trial on charges of “insulting the president,” “being a member of a [terrorist] organization,” and “making propaganda for a [terrorist] organization,” the news website Diken reported today.

Journalist detained overnight
Police in Ankara yesterday detained Pınar Gayip, a reporter for the leftist Etkin News Agency (ETHA), after she travelled to Ankara from the coastal city of Izmir to testify before a court. Police held her overnight and released her today, the news website Diken reported today. Diken did not specify why authorities in Ankara wished to question her.

[May 5, 2017]

Court sentences reporter to more than nine years in prison
A court in the eastern Turkish city of Elazığ yesterday sentenced Mehmet Güleş, a reporter for the pro-Kurdish website Dihaber, to nine years, four months, and 15 days on charges of being a member of a terrorist organization and propagandizing for a terrorist organization, his employer reported. Police arrested the journalist in December. Dihaber reported the journalist will appeal the verdict. Güleş denies the charges, Dihaber reported. His lawyers argue police illegally tapped his phone, and that the conversations used as evidence against him were with journalistic sources.

[May 4, 2017]

Court reporter released, immediately rearrested
Authorities yesterday released Ayşenur Parıldak, the jailed former court reporter for the shuttered daily newspaper Zaman, but immediately re-arrested her, the news website Bianet reported. She has been jailed since August 3, 2016.

Ankara’s 14th Court for Serious Crimes–which is trying Parıldak on terrorism charges based on the allegation she is a follower of Fethullah Gülen, whom the government accuses of maintaining a terrorist and parallel state structure within Turkey that it claims orchestrated a July 2016 failed military coup–yesterday released the reporter on probation banned her from foreign travel.

According to a report from the state Anadolu News Agency, Turkey’s Information and Communication Technologies Authority (BTK) sent the court “new evidence” about Parıldak’s mobile phone use after the court’s decision, which led the court to order her arrest again, based on a “change of evidence.” Parıldak claimed she was subjected to physical and sexual assault in custody, according to press reports.

A court in March 2016 ordered Zaman‘s parent company, the Feza Media Group, put under trustees selected by the government, saying the company and the newspaper had ties to the Gülenist network.

CPJ research shows that authorities have targeted dozens of former Zaman journalists with arrest and prosecution on terrorism charges since the failed July 2016 coup.

[May 3, 2017]

Turkey blocks access to Wikipedia
Turkish regulators blocked access to the reference website Wikipedia, saying it supported “terrorism,” the BBC reported on April 29. TV news channel NTV cited an official who said that the government contacted the website to demand that it remove “a massive amount” of material from the site and complained that articles on the website “portrayed Turkey on the same level as terrorist organizations.” When Wikipedia refused to remove the material, the Turkish government blocked access to it in the country. According to NTV, Turkey expects Wikipedia to open an office in Turkey, to “obey international laws, not to participate in the operations of [vilifying] Turkey,” and “to respect the orders of [Turkish] courts.”

Government bans newspaper, magazine by decree
The Turkish government on April 29 ordered the leftist political magazine Yürüyüş and the regional newspaper Van İpekyolu Haber closed by decree, using emergency powers it assumed after July 2016’s failed military coup. Decree 689 shuttered the two publications on the grounds that they acted “for terrorist organizations” and “against national security.”

Jailed journalist alleges torture
Ömer Çelik, the jailed news editor of the shuttered Dicle News Agency (DİHA), alleged that police tortured him in custody, the leftist daily newspaper Birgün reported yesterday. Çelik told a visiting committee of parliamentary deputies that police put him in a large container of cold water and kept him on a balcony in cold winter weather, Birgün reported. Police detained the journalist on December 25, 2016, CPJ reported at the time.

[May 1, 2017]