Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu (right) and German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel pose after a press conference in Ankara, June 5, 2017. (AP/Burhan Ozbilici)
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu (right) and German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel pose after a press conference in Ankara, June 5, 2017. (AP/Burhan Ozbilici)

Turkey Crackdown Chronicle: Week of June 4, 2017

News websites blocked for 25th, 44th time, respectively
The Turkish telecommunications regulator BTK blocked access to the website of the pro-Kurdish daily newspaper Özgürlükçü Demokrasi–for the 25th time–and to the leftist news website sendika.org–for the 44th time, the press freedom collective Ben Gazeteciyim (“I am a journalist”) reported yesterday. Özgürlükçü Demokrasi continues to publish at a new address, demokrasi26.com. Sendika.org continues to publish at sendika45.com.

[June 9, 2017]

Chair, editor of shuttered newswire released after week in detention
A prosecutor in the southeastern city of Diyarbakır yesterday released Zekeriya Güzüpek and Mehmet Ali Ertaş, the former chair and editor for the shuttered, pro-Kurdish Dicle News Agency (DİHA), the news website Gazete Sujin reported yesterday. Police detained the two on May 31.

Suspended prison sentences for newspaper publisher, editor
Istanbul’s Second Court of First Instance yesterday imposed a suspended sentence of five months in prison on Çağrı Sarı and Arif Koşar, the responsible news editor and the former publisher of the leftist daily newspaper Evrensel, respectively, on charges of “insulting” Turkishness and state institutions under Article 301 of the Penal Code, Evrensel reported yesterday, noting that the journalists intend to appeal.

The charges stem from the newspaper’s publication of a March 15, 2016, DİHA news report that included allegations that police shot at civilians at the southeastern city of Nusaybin, injuring three people.

Amnesty International Turkey chair detained
Police in the coastal city of Izmir yesterday detained press freedom defender and lawyer Taner Kılıç, the chair of Amnesty International Turkey, Evrensel reported. He was among 22 lawyers detained in the city yesterday on suspicion of having being followers of Fethullah Gülen.

“The fact that Turkey’s post-coup purge has now dragged the Chair of Amnesty International Turkey into its web is further proof of just how far it has gone and just how arbitrary it has become. Taner Kılıç has a long and distinguished record of defending exactly the kind of freedoms that the Turkish authorities are now intent on trampling,” Amnesty International Secretary General Salil Shetty said in a statement.

[June 7, 2017]

Turkish foreign minister says foreign spies hide under journalistic cover
“A new trend has started among European intelligence agencies where they use journalists as spies,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said in remarks reported by the pro-government daily newspaper Sabah today.

Speaking at the press conference following a meeting with his German counterpart in Ankara, Sigmar Gabriel, in Ankara, Çavuşoğlu said that Turkey’s continued detention of Die Welt correspondent Deniz Yücel, a dual, German-Turkish citizen, “always comes up” at meetings, and once more accused the journalist of being a spy and terrorist.

“The charge regarding Yücel is not about journalism, but terrorism,” Çavuşoğlu told reporters today.

Deutsche Welle’s Turkish service on June 3 reported that Gabriel had told reporters in St. Petersburg, Russia, that Turkish consular officials in Turkey had been able to visit Meşale Tolu, a translator for the leftist Etkin News Agency (ETHA) and a German citizen, who has been detained since last month.

Police arrest editor for failing to run correction
Police in the eastern Turkish province of Iğdır arrested İlker Yücel, editor of the ultranationalist daily newspaper Aydınlık, on May 3 for failing to run a court-mandated correction in the newspaper in 2014, the news website Bianet reported yesterday.

The story in question alleged that Berat Albayrak, who is minister of energy and natural resources and the son-in-law of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, was guilty of corruption. Yücel was released after paying a fine of 100,000 Turkish lira (roughly U.S.$28,500), Bianet reported.

[June 5, 2017]