A view of the "July 15th Martyrs' Bridge", formerly known as Bosporus Bridge, in Istanbul during a marathon on November 12, 2017. (AP/Lefteris Pitarakis)
A view of the "July 15th Martyrs' Bridge", formerly known as Bosporus Bridge, in Istanbul during a marathon on November 12, 2017. (AP/Lefteris Pitarakis)

Turkey Crackdown Chronicle: Week of November 12, 2017

Journalists released

A Turkish court on November 9 released from prison Mehmet Çağrı, chief editor for the local radio station Dersim Munzur, during his first trial hearing in the southeastern city of Tunceli, which is also known as by the Kurdish name of Dersim, the daily Evrensel reported.

The next trial hearing is scheduled for January 31, 2018.

A Tunceli court arrested Çağrı on March 28 on charges of being a member of a terrorist organization, according to the Evrensel report. The prosecution presented photographs the journalist had taken at protest events in Tunceli as evidence against him, Evrensel said.

Journalists convicted

An Istanbul court on November 16 found Yılmaz Yıldız, the chief editor of the pro-Kurdish daily Özgürlükçü Demokrasi, and İshak Yasul, the publication’s news editor, guilty of publishing material that relates to or discusses alleged terrorist organizations, Özgürlükçü Demokrasi reported.

According to the report, the court sentenced the editors to 10 months in prison, but released them both on delayed sentences for five years unless the journalists repeat the offense.

Prime minister sues news outlets

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım is suing the opposition daily Cumhuriyet for 500,000 Turkish lira (US$129,453) in damages related to the paper’s coverage of his and his son’s alleged financial activities as detailed in the Paradise Papers, Cumhuriyet reported on November 11.

Cumhuriyet, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and other publications, published leaks from the Paradise Papers that revealed the prime minister and his family to have investments in five offshore companies, according to news reports.

Yıldırım also is suing the opposition news website Odatv for 500,000 Turkish lira (US$129,453) in damages for the outlet’s coverage of the Paradise Papers, Odatv reported on November 15.

Journalists’ lawyers expelled from courtroom

An Istanbul judge on November 13 kicked out of court the defense attorneys of two arrested journalists, the independent news website Bianet reported.

During a hearing for Ahmet Altan, the former editor of the shuttered daily Taraf, and his brother Mehmet Altan, a former columnist for the shuttered daily Özgür Düşünce, the judge asked the men’s two lawyers, Ergin Cinmen and Yasemin Çalıkuşum, to leave. Throughout the course of the hearing, the Altans’ other two lawyers, Ferat Çağıl and Melike Polat, were instructed to leave the courtroom as well, Bianet reported. The news report did not specify why the lawyers were dismissed.

According to Bianet, the hearing will resume on December 11.

Parliamentary deputy says journalists have ‘no right to live’

Şahap Kavcıoğlu, a parliamentary deputy from Turkey’s majority Justice and Development Party (AKP), said on November 14 that dissident academics and journalists have no right to live, online newspaper 1HaberVar reported.

During a Turkish parliamentary commission, the deputy criticized a report the opposition People’s Democratic Party presented to the European Parliament and said, “No academic, politician or journalist who has signed this statement should be granted the right to live in any country, let alone prison.”

The report was about the widespread media and civil society crackdown that began after the failed attempted coup in June 2016.