Protesters hold signs saying "freedom for journalists" in Istanbul, May 3, 2017. (AFP/Ozan Kose)
Protesters hold signs saying "freedom for journalists" in Istanbul, May 3, 2017. (AFP/Ozan Kose)

Turkey Crackdown Chronicle: Week of May 28, 2017

Chair and editor of shuttered news agency arrested
Police in the southeastern Turkish city of Diyarbakır on the night of May 31 arrested Zekeriya Güzüpek, the former chair of the board of the shuttered pro-Kurdish Dicle News Agency (DİHA), and Mehmet Ali Ertaş, a former Kurdish-language editor at the news agency, the news website Artı Gerçek reported yesterday. The website reported that the two were detained at the Diyarbakır headquarters of the Anti-Terrorism Police.

Leftist news website blocked for 43rd time
Turkish authorities blocked access to the leftist news website for the 43rd time, the site reported yesterday. The website is now operating at a new address,

Appeals court upholds prison sentence for news agency reporter
A court upheld a prison sentence of two years, nine months, and 22 days for Zehra Doğan, a former reporter for the shuttered, pro-Kurdish news agency JİNHA, Gazete Sujin reported yesterday. She was convicted of “propagandizing for a [terrorist] organization” in February, but had been released on probation, pending the conclusion of her trial and appeal, in late December 2016, after five months in pretrial detention. The journalist was not yet in state custody as of the time of writing.

News editor indicted for ‘insult’
Prosecutors on May 30 brought “insult” charges against Barış Terkoğlu, news editor of the ultranationalist news website Odatv, Odatv reported. Nurettin Yıldız, the head of the religious nongovernmental organization the Social Fabric Foundation, had filed the criminal complaint alleging that Odatv insulted him by calling him a “pervert” in a headline responding to Yıldız’s contention that Islam permits men to marry six-year-old girls, Odatv reported.

[June 2, 2017]

Shuttered TV station on trial for propagandizing for rival ‘terrorist’ groups
Istanbul’s 13th Court for Serious Crimes began hearing the trial of the shuttered leftist television channel Hayatın Sesi (“Voice of Life”) TV yesterday, the daily Evrensel reported. Prosecutors allege that the television station produced propaganda for the Islamic State group, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), and the Kurdistan Freedom Hawks or TAK, all of which the Turkish government classes as terrorist organizations. The groups are rivals. Lawyers for the shuttered television station called the allegations “irrational,” said the television station had done nothing but broadcast the news and argued that the prosecution had failed to show how the station’s broadcasts were propaganda. The court adjourned until November 7, Evrensel reported.

[May 31, 2017]

Newspaper publisher, editor jailed for insulting president
İbrahim Aydın and Berkant Gültekin, the publisher and former responsible news editor of the socialist daily newspaper Birgün were jailed on charges of “insulting the president,” the newspaper reported on May 28. The charges related to their reporting on a 2015 protest, for which they were each sentenced to 21 months in prison. The two were jailed in Kırklareli Prison, the newspaper reported, but expect to be released soon because of recent changes to the law governing prison sentences. Gültekin, writing on Twitter, on May 28 said, “It is not a big deal. I mean, it is a big deal, but not in the condition that Turkey is in. We are sentenced for insulting the president due to a headline from two years ago. We will serve one or two days and get out.”

Court issues warrant for owner of pro-opposition newspaper
A court in Istanbul on May 27 issued a warrant for the arrest of Burak Akbay, owner of the nationalist, secularist newspaper Sözcü, Turkey’s official Anadolu News Agency reported. Akbay, who is wanted on suspicion of “being a member of a [terrorist] organization,” is reported to be out of the country. Police arrested online responsible editor Mediha Olgun and reporter Gökmen Ulu on May 18, according to media reports.

Police beat pro-Kurdish newspaper distributor
Police in the southeastern Turkish province of Mersin on May 28 beat Hacı Arpaç, a distributor of the pro-Kurdish daily newspaper Özgürlükçü Demokrasi, his employer reported. Arpaç recently had heart surgery, according to his employer. Police detained and beat the man on November 10, 2016, but released him on probation 14 days later, the newspaper wrote.

Police strike reporter for defending street vendor
Istanbul municipal police (Zabıta) struck Habertürk correspondent Leyla Ünal in Istanbul’s Üsküdar district after she chastised them for their treatment of a street vendor, the citizen journalism platform Dokuz8Haber tweeted today. Ünal filed a complaint, and the municipal police officers are being investigated for “intentional injury” and “insult,” Dokuz8Haber wrote on Twitter.

[May 30, 2017]