A Turkish flag waves over the Bosphorus strait as Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge is seen in the background, on July 22, 2018, in Istanbul. (AFP/Ozan Kose)
A Turkish flag waves over the Bosphorus strait as Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge is seen in the background, on July 22, 2018, in Istanbul. (AFP/Ozan Kose)

Turkey Crackdown Chronicle: Week of September 10, 2018

Turkey detains Austrian writer

Austrian citizen Max Zirngast, a contributor to several magazines and a student of political science, according to the OSCE, was detained by anti-terrorism police in Ankara, Turkey’s capital, on September 11, Deutsche Welle reported. Deutsche Welle quoted a tweet of German magazine re:volt–one of his employers–as saying that Zirngast was taken into custody at 5:00 a.m. along with others, according to the report. Reuters reported on September 11 that Turkish officials did not comment on the arrest, and also featured a comment from re:volt magazine calling for Zirngast’s release: “Our writer, who has lived in Turkey for many years, is a passionate leftist activist and author who campaigns for freedom and democracy.” The Austrian government demanded an explanation for the arrest or the release of their citizen, independent news website Bianet reported in English on September 12. Online newspaper Artı Gerçek, in a report dated September 12, quoted the journalist’s lawyer, Teoman Özkan, as saying that his client is likely to be prosecuted for his political activities.

Journalists in court

Leftist daily Evrensel‘s former publisher Arif Koşar and former responsible news editor Vural Nasuhbeyoğlu were sentenced to fines of 7,000 Turkish lira (US$1,145) each for “insulting the president of Turkey,” their employer reported today. The journalists will appeal the verdict. Responsible news editor is a position legally required for media outlets in Turkey; the position makes the holder legally responsible for published content and is generally a rotating position.

Pınar Gayıp and Semiha Şahin, editor and reporter, respectively, for the leftist Etkin News Agency, were not released at the first hearing of their trial, Bianet reported on September 10. The next hearing will be held on December 5, 2018. The two journalists were arrested in April, CPJ has documented.

The trial of the pro-Kurdish daily Özgürlükçü Demokrasi started in Istanbul on September 12, Bianet reported. The following arrested suspects offered testimony at the first hearing: publisher İhsan Yaşar, news editor İhsak Yasul, editor Hicran Urun, employee Pınar Tarlak, editor and columnist Mehmet Ali Çelebi, and editor Reyhan Hacıoğlu. The court ruled that Tarlak be released but ordered that the others remain in custody. The next hearing is set for December 6, 2018. Özgürlükçü Demokrasi was raided by the police in March and shuttered by a government decree in July, CPJ has documented.