President Erdogan waves to supporters during an event in Istanbul to mark the one-year anniversary of Turkey's failed coup attempt. A news editor was detained on July 15 over a column on the government's response to the failed coup. (Presidency Press Service via AP/Pool)
President Erdogan waves to supporters during an event in Istanbul to mark the one-year anniversary of Turkey's failed coup attempt. A news editor was detained on July 15 over a column on the government's response to the failed coup. (Presidency Press Service via AP/Pool)

Turkey Crackdown Chronicle: Week of July 16, 2017

Germany says Turkey offered prisoner swap for jailed journalist

German daily Bild cited an unnamed German diplomatic source as saying that Turkey offered to exchange imprisoned journalist Deniz Yücel for two former generals who sought asylum in Germany. Germany’s foreign ministry rejected the offer, the anonymous source told Bild. Turkey has not commented publicly on the alleged offer.

Separately, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel made harsh statements against Turkey today, Reuters reported. “We need our policies towards Turkey to go in a new direction…we can’t continue as we have done,” the minister said. He criticized the arrests of a group of rights activists, including a German citizen. The minister warned German citizens to exercise caution if travelling to Turkey, and said “the most absurd things are possible” there. In response, Turkey presidential spokesperson İbrahim Kalın said the country wants good relations with Germany but added, “It is not possible for us to accept statements aiming to blur the economic environment based on political motivation, we hope they turn back from this” the report said.

Press groups highlight plight of jailed journalists

The Free Journalists Initiative and the Journalist’s Union of Turkey made a joint call for the release of journalists and media workers, Dihaber reported today. At a press conference in Kurdish and Turkish, in the southeastern city of Diyarbakır, the organizations highlighted the number of journalists detained in Turkey since the declaration of the state of emergency after the failed coup attempt of July 15. In the statement the groups said that it was “unacceptable” that the official news agency Anatolia described two detained journalists, Erdoğan Alayumat and Nuri Akman, as “PKK members.” The Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) is an armed outlaw organization.

State broadcaster employees arrested

Eight former employees of the state broadcaster TRT were arrested on accusations of “being a member of an armed terrorist organization,” according to reports. The staff, named in reports as reporter Efnan Y, engineers Serkan C. and Özgür Ş., chief technician Satı D., and production department employees Şule R., Uğur Y., Tuba E., and Yunus G. are in pretrial detention. The Istanbul Chief Prosecutor’s Office issued warrants for 18 former TRT personnel for having the Bylock App on their phones, which Turkey views as proof of membership to the “FETÖ” organization and being linked to the failed coup attempt last year. Police have detained 10 people under the warrants. One unnamed individual was released at the police and the one another was released under judicial control, according to the report.

[July 20, 2017]

Terror charges for human rights activists

A Turkish court has charged six human rights activists with being members of a terrorist organization, Bianet English reported today. Police arrested the activists earlier this month during a training session for human rights workers at a hotel in Prince’s Island off Istanbul. Court documents viewed by CPJ did not identify the terrorist organization the activists are accused of being members of.

Nalan Erkem and Özlem Dalkıran, of the Helsinki Citizens Assembly; İlknur Üstün, of the Women’s Coalition; İdil Eser, Turkey director for Human Rights Watch; Veli Acu, of Amnesty International; Günal Kurşun, of the Human Rights Agenda Association; Nejat Taştan, of the Association for Monitoring Equal Rights; Şeyhmuz Özbekli, of the Rights Initiative; Ali Garawi, a human rights trainer; and Peter Steudtner, a German national and human rights trainer, appeared in court Monday. The court released Erkem, Üstün, Taştan and Özbekli under judicial control and imposed a travel ban. The others remain in pre-trial detention according to reports. Germany condemned the arrest of Steudner, according to Reuters. The Turkish Ambassador to Berlin was called to the German Foreign Ministry today according to Deutsche Welle.

[July 19, 2017]

News editor detained over column criticizing coup anniversary

Police on July 15 detained Yeliz Koray, news editor for Kocaeli Koz, a local daily in Turkey’s northwestern province Kocaeli, after receiving an anonymous complaint over a column she wrote for the newspaper, her employer reported. The complaint claimed that the journalist’s column was “provoking the people into hatred and animosity” and “making propaganda of a [terrorist] organization,” her paper reported.

The column criticized the way the government is describing its victory over last year’s attempted failed coup. Koray listed historical events such as the defeat of the Greek invasion by the forces of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, and argued that the “legend” of July 15 did not measure up to the “legends” of the past.

In her testimony, the journalist said she did not intend to provoke the people and has no ties to FETÖ, which the Turkish government accuses of being the mastermind of the coup attempt. Koray was released the following afternoon under judicial control, according to her paper.

[July 17, 2017]