Istanbul police on February 1 detained Ali Sönmez Kayar, a reporter for the socialist Etkin News Agency (ETHA), according to his employer’s tweet. A local court ordered Kayar to be held in custody pending investigation, on February 6, ETHA reported without providing further details.
Police in the western city of Bandırma on February 6 detained Mete Can Bahtiyar, a former reporter for the leftist daily BirGün, in relation to his social media posts, according to the online newspaper Özgürüz. A court on February 7 ordered Bahtiyar to be detained pending trial on charges of “making propaganda for a [terrorist] organization,” Özgürüz reported. According to the report, Bahtiyar said he has not been an active journalist for the past three years.
Istanbul police detained Sibel Tekin, a director and video activist for the Seyri Sokak group that documents street protests in Turkey, and searched her house, the independent news site Bianet reported on February 2.
Authorities released Tekin on February 6 under judicial control and banned her from foreign travel, the all-women news agency Jin News reported.
Police in the western city of Izmir on February 2 detained Ümit Kartal, chief editor for the local online newspaper İz, according to the online paper T24.
Kartal’s lawyer told T24 that police detained his client because he referred to Turkey’s military action in Syria as “an invasion” in social media posts, allegedly in an attempt to provoke social unrest.
İz reported that Kartal was released from custody on February 5.
Authorities have detained 449 people for criticizing Turkey’s incursion into Syria, according to a February 5 report from Turkey’s interior ministry.
Izmir police on February 7 detained Ahmet Kanbal, a reporter for the pro-Kurdish Mezopotamya Agency, for allegedly “making propaganda for a [terrorist] organization,” his employer reported.
Court orders release of journalist
An Istanbul court ordered the release of journalist Halil İbrahim Balta on February 6 on medical grounds, according to Expression Interrupted, a Turkey-based news site that focuses on freedom of expression issues.
Balta’s trial over accusations of “being a member of an armed [terrorist] organization,” is on going according to the news site.
A proposed bill presented to Turkey’s parliament on February 2 would force online broadcasters, including YouTube and Netflix Turkey, to be licensed and regulated by the federal TV and radio watchdog group RTÜK, according to local reports. According to experts cited in the report, the proposed bill would extend RTÜK’s regulation authority to include personal social media accounts and would expand internet censorship in Turkey.
The telecommunication authority BTK blocked access in Turkey to the web addresses of three news outlets, according to a February 6 report from the news site Sendika, which the agency has blocked 63 times.
The old address of the pro-Kurdish news agency Mezopotamya Ajansı, the leftist news website Direnişteyiz, and the leftist website Kızıl Bayrak, are all inaccessible in Turkey without a VPN, according to the report.
News websites that are blocked in Turkey often add numbers to their web address to continue to operate.
Jailed journalists appeal to higher court over illegal detention
The imprisoned journalists Şahin Alpay and Mehmet Altan for a second time have applied to Turkey’s constitutional court after lower courts refused to implement the higher court’s previous rulings that their pre-trial detention violated their rights, according to a February 3 report on the news website Expression Interrupted.
The high court ruled that in both cases the journalists were illegally detained but the Istanbul courts that try the journalists have repeatedly refused to comply with the high court’s orders, CPJ has documented.