Activists release balloons as they gather outside a court in Istanbul, Turkey on July 24, 2017 to protest the trail of journalists and staff of the Cumhuriyet newspaper. There has been a widespread crackdown on the press under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. (AP/Lefteris Pitarakis)

Turkey Crackdown Chronicle: Week of September 3, 2017

Columnist’s passport returned

Turkish authorities on September 7 returned Aslı Erdoğan, a former advisory board member of the shuttered pro-Kurdish daily Özgür Gündem and a frequent columnist, her passport, according to the Hürriyet Daily News website, which cites Erdoğan’s lawyer.

CPJ documented last week how authorities had confiscated Erdoğan’s passport as she was on her way to Germany to accept an award for her work.

Government authorities imprisoned Erdoğan, who bears no relation to the Turkish president, in August 2016 on terrorism charges, and subsequently released her from pre-trial detention in December, according to CPJ research.

Turkish court censors newspaper’s investigation

A Turkish court on September 5 ruled that two investigative articles on alleged links between the country’s ruling elite and their political adversaries should be banned, according to a report from Cumhuriyet, the newspaper that originally published the pair of articles.

An Ankara court ruled the online versions of the articles, which originally appeared in the Cumhuriyet‘s August 19 and 21 print editions, should be banned.

The articles stated that the deputy chair of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s ruling party, Hayati Yazıcı, and his son maintained business ties with a man connected to the Gülenist movement into 2014, at which time the government had already labeled the movement to be a terrorist organization.

[September 8, 2017]

Turkish authorities sell off assets of shuttered outlets

Turkish authorities yesterday announced government tenders to sell off the equipment of 36 shuttered media outlets as part of a government crackdown on independent media and opposition groups, the online newspaper Gazete Duvar reported.

The country’s Savings Deposit Insurance Fund announced the three tenders, and said the outlets’ equipment, fixtures, broadcast slots and frequencies, and offices will be sold to the highest bidder. Profits from the sales will go to the state.

The former general coordinator for the now-closed IMC TV outlet, Eyüp Burç said he was outraged that authorities are auctioning off equipment while his media organization is trying to appeal its closure. Some of the equipment up for auction, the former coordinator added, was not the channel’s property, but was rented from an independent production company and on loan from the Reuters news agency.

The government is selling the following outlets’ assets. Their value, estimated by the Savings Deposit Insurance Fund, is indicated in parentheses in Turkish lira and U.S. dollars.

Yedigün newspaper. (1,000 Turkish lira, US$293.38)

Taraf newspaper, Ankara office. (3.000 Turkish lira, US$880.16)

– Muhabir Haber news agency. (500 Turkish lira, US$146.68)

– Bugün TV. (1,444,550 Turkish lira, US$423,787.41)

– Feza Samanyolu Media Company (601,595 Turkish lira, US$176,519.57)

– Samanyolu Broadcasting, Ankara office (140,000 Turkish lira, US$41,078.47)

Banaz Postası newspaper (4,710 Turkish lira, US$1,382)

Son Nokta newspaper and assets (1,500 Turkish lira, US$440.13)

– Kanal 35 TV (960,000 Turkish lira, US$281,681.91)

-Samanyolu/Hira TV, Radio Mehtap, Radio Küre, MC TV, Samanyolu News TV, Samanyolu News Radio, Samanyolu TV, Burç FM Radio, Mehtap TV, Sem News Agency, News Radio Ege, Tuna Shopping TV, Yumurcak TV, and Dünya Radio (965,000 Turkish lira, US$283,148)

– Azadi Amed Radio and Azadi TV (245,000 Turkish lira, US$71,887.31)

– Jiyan TV (164,000 Turkish lira, US$48,120.49 USD)

Meydan newspaper (54,465 Turkish lira, US$15,981)

– Radio Nur (8,280 Turkish lira, US$2,429.50)

Yarına Bakış newspaper (19,835 Turkish lira, US$5,819.94)

– IMC TV (856,887 Turkish lira, US$251,426.73)

– TV 10 (24,684 Turkish lira, US$7,243.72)

Yeni Hayat newspaper (44,655 Turkish lira, US$13,102.56)

Kocaeli Manşet newspaper and Dost News Agency (17,125 Turkish lira, US$5,024.78)

– Demokrat Gebze (75,425 Turkish lira, US$22,131.02)

– Bizim Kocaeli (175,270 Turkish lira, US$51,427.30)

At the time of publication, US$1 was equivalent to approximately 3.41 Turkish lira.

Turkey has shuttered hundreds of media outlets since last year, CPJ has reported.

[September 7, 2017]

Turkish police detain regional reporter on suspicion of terrorism Turkish police on September 2 detained Kemal Özer, a regional reporter for the leftist daily Evrensel, and said they plan to hold the journalist until September 9 on suspicion that he is a member of a terrorist organization, the head of the local bar association, Barış Yıldırım, told Evrensel on Monday.

Özer is currently in custody at the Tunceli Police Directorate, according to the Evrensel report.

Police detained Özer, who works in the central eastern Tunceli region, at a checkpoint between the Ovacık district and the main city of Tunceli, also known by its Kurdish name of Dersim, Evrensel reported. Earlier in the day, authorities had searched Özer’s home, and failed to find the journalist, according to a news report.

Özer, a veteran correspondent for Evrensel, has been harassed previously for his work. In January, CPJ documented how the reporter received threatening anonymous phone calls over his reporting on the illegal hunting of mountain goats in Tunceli province.

[Published September 6, 2017]