Members of the media cover a protest outside an Istanbul court during the trial of about a dozen newspaper employees on October 31, 2017. (AP/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Members of the media cover a protest outside an Istanbul court during the trial of about a dozen newspaper employees on October 31, 2017. (AP/Lefteris Pitarakis)

Turkey Crackdown Chronicle: Week of November 26, 2017

Journalists prosecuted

An Istanbul court on November 25 charged freelance photojournalist Çağdaş Erdoğan with being member of and making propaganda for a “terrorist organization,” the daily Evrensel reported.

Police detained Erdoğan on September 2 in Istanbul while he was photographing a National Intelligence Agency building, CPJ documented at the time. Prosecutors alleged that Erdoğan’s attempt to photograph the building constituted evidence of his membership in the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK), which Turkey classifies as a terrorist organization, Evrensel reported.

The prosecution claimed that the photojournalist’s posts on social media were propaganda for the PKK.

A court in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir on November 23 charged Hayri Demir, a reporter for the pro-Kurdish Mezopotamya Agency, with “making propaganda for a [terrorist] organization,” the online newspaper Gazete Karınca reported.

The charges against Demir relate to a tweet he published showing an old newspaper clipping about Kurdish journalists who were killed in Turkey during the 1990s, according to Gazete Karınca.

A Diyarbakir court is scheduled to hear the case on March 15, 2018.

Journalists detained

Police on November 29 detained İsmail Türk, a former columnist for the conservative, religious daily Yeni Asya, at the Esenboğa Airport in Ankara, according to the daily Hürriyet.

Hürriyet reported that Türk’s arrest was related to an investigation into the Fethullah Gülen movement, which Turkey blames for the failed coup attempt in June 2016.

FBI to investigate Barakat murders

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation is investigating the double murder of Syrian-American journalist Halla Barakat and her mother, Oruba, ABC News reported on November 28.

Turkish police found the mother and daughter dead in their Istanbul apartment in September, CPJ documented.

According to ABC, Turkish authorities have declined U.S. offers to assist in the investigation.

Halla Barakat was born in the United States, and the FBI has legal jurisdiction to investigate the homicide of any American killed abroad, ABC reported.

Journalism workshop focusing on LGBT issues shut down

The organizers of a series of journalism workshops meant to foster dialogue on gender issues and reporting on the LGBT community canceled the events on November 16 following threats against them and workshop participants, according to Nadire Mater, the executive board chair for the foundation that was sponsoring the series.

The threats came after the news site Mardin Life on November 9 published an article that quoted the Turkish news agency İLKHA referring to the workshops as the “homosexuality program.”

According to Mater’s account that the independent news site Bianet published, the organizers notified the governor of the southeastern Mardin region where the next workshop was scheduled to take place after they began receiving threats. The governor did not respond to their request for help, prompting authorities to call off all future workshops for security reasons.

Previous workshops in the series were held across Turkey including in Istanbul, Mersin, Bursa, Izmir, Eskişehir, Trabzon, Diyarbakır, Muğla, Edirne, and Dersim, according to Bianet. The workshops were part of the “Gender Based Journalism Guidebook and Library Project” that is supported in part by the European Union European Tool for Democracy and Human Rights Fund.