Skyscrapers at the business and financial districts are seen from the old city in Istanbul, Turkey August 22, 2017. Turkey has continued its crackdown on the media. (Reuters/Murad Sezer)
Skyscrapers at the business and financial districts are seen from the old city in Istanbul, Turkey August 22, 2017. Turkey has continued its crackdown on the media. (Reuters/Murad Sezer)

Turkey Crackdown Chronicle: Week of April 9, 2018

Journalists Imprisoned

An Istanbul court on April 6 arraigned İhsan Yaşar and İhsak Kabul, the publisher and responsible news editor respectively for the recently seized pro-Kurdish newspaper Özgürlükçü Demokrasi, on charges of “being members of a [terrorist] organization” and “making propaganda for a [terrorist] organization,” the daily Evrensel reported.

They will remain in custody until their indictment, according to the report.

An Istanbul court on April 10 arraigned three editors from the now-shuttered Kurdish newspaper Özgürlükçü Demokrasi, along with three newspaper employees and a former employee on charges of “being members of a [terrorist] organization,” the news website Diken reported.

The three editors, Mehmet Ali Çelebi, Reyhan Hacıoğlu, and Hicran Urun, and a newspaper employee Pınar Tarlak will remain in government detention while awaiting trial. The court released newspaper employees Ramazan Solam and Nedim Demirkıran, and former employee Mehmet Beyazıt, on probation pending trial, Diken said.

A court in the eastern city of Van on April 7 arraigned Mehmet Dursun, a former correspondent for the shuttered pro-Kurdish Dicle News Agency (DİHA), on charges of “making propaganda for a [terrorist] organization,” Mezopatamya News Agency reported.

Journalists sentenced

An Istanbul court sentenced to prison Emre Soncan, a former military affairs correspondent for the shuttered daily Zaman, for seven years and six months on charges of “being a member of a [terrorist] organization,” the online newspaper Turkish Minute reported on April 10.

Soncan turned himself into authorities in June 2016 and has repeatedly denied the charges against him, according to CPJ research and Turkish Minute.

President’s son-in-law sues daily

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s son-in-law and Turkey’s energy minister, Berat Albayrak, and his brother, Serhat Albayrak, are suing the daily Evrensel for libel and insult for its coverage of the Paradise Papers, which alleged that the two were involved in a series of corrupt deals, the paper reported on April 11.

As responsible news editor at the time the Panama Paper-related articles were published, Çağrı Sarı will be held accountable under Turkish law for Evrensel‘s content and could face up to six years in prison, according to Evrensel.

Journalists at court

An Istanbul court accepted an indictment against Nurcan Baysal, columnist for the news websites T24 and Ahval, for “provoking the people into hatred and animosity” in her tweets criticizing Turkey’s military presence in Syria, her employer Ahval reported on April 11.

Authorities briefly took Baysal into custody and released her in January 2018, CPJ documented at the time.

An Istanbul appeals court upheld a lower court’s conviction and sentencing of Eren Keskin, former co-editor-in-chief of the shuttered pro-Kurdish daily Özgür Gündem, Mezopatamya News Agency reported on April 11.

The lower court sentenced Keskin to six months in prison for “insulting the institutions of the republic of Turkey” in a 2016 Özgür Gündem column and commuted the sentenced to a fine of 3000 Turkish liras (US$733)

Keskin has been sentenced in over 100 cases relating to her journalism and owes a total of 355,920 Turkish liras (US$86,900) in fines; appeals courts have upheld at least 105,920 Turkish liras (US$25,800) of the fines, according to Mezopatamya News Agency.

Police in the southeastern province of Hatay on April 8 detained Ömer Ödemiş, Middle East correspondent for the opposition news website ABC Gazetesi and online television broadcaster TELE1, in relation to his social media posts, ABC Gazetesi reported. An Ankara court on April 11 ordered Ödemiş to be released on probation, according to the report.

CPJ was unable to determine if Ödemiş will face charges.

A court in the western city of Kocaeli convicted independent journalist Yeliz Koray on charges of “provoking the people into hatred and animosity,” and issued a suspended sentence of 15 months, the daily Cumhuriyet reported on April 5.

The charges against Koray relate to a column she wrote that was critical of how the government handled the narrative of the failed coup attempt in July 2016, according to the report.

Journalists released

A court in the southern city of Adana on April 12 released from custody Filiz Zeyrek, a reporter for the pro-Kurdish website Jin News, the news website Bianet reported.

Police detained Zeyrek on March 30, CPJ documented at the time.

CPJ was unable to determine if Zeyrek has been charged.