Journalists in court
A Diyarbakır Court on December 5 ordered Rojhat Doğru, a journalist formerly with the northern Iraq outlet Gali Kurdistan TV, to be detained pending investigation, the pro-Kurdish Mezopotamya Agency reported. According to the report, Doğru was taken into custody in Istanbul on the accusation of “being a member of a [terrorist] organization,” and appeared at the Diyarbakır court via teleconference.
Doğru pleaded not guilty and told the judge he did not know the people the police had asked him about, that it was at least two years since he last used the telephone number police asked him about, and that he has not used his Facebook account for a long time. Evidence cited for Doğru’s arrest was an interview he did for Gali Kurdistan TV with PKK members at a public event in Iraq, which he also posted visuals from on Facebook. The report did not specify the date he was detained or where he was being held.
* Authorities in Romania detained Turkish journalist Kamil Demirkaya on December 5 over an extradition request from Turkey, according to the Associated Press. Turkey issued the request over accusations that Demirkaya is “a member of criminal, terrorist group,” referring to the so called “FETÖ” group that the government blames for the failed attempted 2016 coup. A court is due to consider Demirkaya’s request for political asylum on December 14, according to other reports.
*An Istanbul prosecutor on December 6 questioned Hasan Cemal, a columnist for the news website T24, over accusations that he insulted the president via one of his columns, his employer reported. Cemal was questioned about his use of terms including “strong man,” “dictator,” and “civilian coup” which, the prosecutor said, were terms used by members of the FETÖ group. Cemal told the prosecutor that the column was part of his right to free speech and that the FETÖ allegation was wrong.
* The trial of Kamil Tekin Sürek, a lawyer and a columnist for the leftist daily Evrensel, started in Istanbul on December 6, his employer reported. Sürek is accused of “insulting the president” in a column titled “The Fascist Dictatorship.” Sürek pleaded not guilty and the next hearing was scheduled for December 20, according to the report.
* The second hearing in the trial of 14 people from the shuttered, pro-Kurdish daily Özgürlükçü Demokrasi was heard in Istanbul on December 6, Evrensel reported. The court ordered five defendants who are detained pending the outcome of the trial to remain in custody. The next hearing is scheduled for February 21, 2019.
* Çiğdem Toker, a former economics columnist for the opposition daily Cumhuriyet, tweeted on December 6 that an Ankara court has dismissed the damages case filed against her. CPJ documented in January how a privately owned company was suing Toker for 1.5 million Turkish lira (US$398,190) in damages over a Cumhuriyet column alleging the company’s involvement in the irregular export of tomatoes to Russia.
* The Chief Prosecutor’s Office of Istanbul issued another arrest warrant for exiled journalist Can Dündar, the English-language newspaper Hürriyet Daily News reported. This time, the journalist is being prosecuted over his alleged connection to the so-called Gezi Events, the nationwide street protests in Turkey in 2013 that authorities claim were attempt by FETÖ to start a coup.
Switzerland permits journalist to enter country
Switzerland has permitted Mustafa Mamay to enter the country, according to a December 1 tweet from the journalist. The journalist said he feared being deported to Turkey after Switzerland barred him from entering the country last month. CPJ could not determine the conditions of the journalist’s entry to the country.