People read papers by the Bosporus in Istanbul in April 2019. A journalist this week started a prison sentence for insulting Turkey's president in a speech. (AP/Emrah Gurel)
People read papers by the Bosporus in Istanbul in April 2019. A journalist this week started a prison sentence for insulting Turkey's president in a speech. (AP/Emrah Gurel)

Turkey Crackdown Chronicle: Week of June 9, 2019

Journalist in jail for insulting president
On June 13, Yavuz Selim Demirağ, a columnist for the nationalist daily Yeni Ç, started an 11-month and 20-day prison sentence for “insulting the president,” according to his column published the same day. The column featured an update from the newspaper that said that the journalist had turned himself and will be at Ayaş Prison in Ankara.

Demirağ’s sentence is related to a speech he gave at a conference in the western city of Nazilli four years ago, Evrensel reported.

CPJ documented last month how Demirağ was attacked in Ankara after appearing as a guest on a political talk show on the nationalist Türkiyem TV.

ETHA journalists moved to house arrest

A court on June 13 transferred two journalists from the leftist Etkin News Agency (ETHA), from prison to house arrest while they await the outcome of their trial on terrorism charges, the independent news website Bianet reported. Pınar Gayıp, a reporter, and Semiha Şahin, an editor, were arrested pending trial in April 2018 and first appeared in court in September 2018, CPJ has documented.

Arrests in attack of Egemen founder

Four individuals suspected of involvement in the armed assault on local journalist Hakan Denizli from Adana were arrested pending trial on June 7, according to reports. Denizli, founder of the newspaper Egemen in the southeastern province of Adana, was shot in the leg on May 24, CPJ documented.

The suspects, identified only by their initials, are: V.T.A. accused of shooting the journalist; S.Ö. who allegedly helped the shooter escape on a motorcycle; and V.C. and E.E. who are accused of being the instigators of the attack, the report said. V.T.A. spoke to the reporters who were present when he was transferred to prison, and said he did not know Denizli was a journalist and had “no animosity for him.” CPJ could not determine if they deny the charges.

Denizli was released from hospital on June 11, his newspaper reported. Denizli was shot in the leg twice and had two operations, the report said.

Court dismisses case against former Cumhuriyet columnist

An Ankara court on June 11 dismissed a damages case filed against Çiğdem Toker, a former columnist for the opposition daily Cumhuriyet, by the national post and telegraph directorate of Turkey (PTT), Medyascope TV reported. The PTT filed a compensation case seeking 50,000 Turkish lira (US$8,500) over Toker’s April 22, 2018 column for Cumhuriyet that covered allegations of corruption in the national service. The 20th Ankara Court of First Instance dismissed the case, saying there was no evidence that the column hurt the company’s reputation.

Paperwork error delays release of Ayşe Düzkan

Journalist Ayşe Düzkan, who was imprisoned over her participation in a solidarity campaign with the daily newspaper Özgür Gündem, was released from prison on June 11 according to reports based on her daughter’s tweet. Haziran Düzkan tweeted that her mother was released and is resting in Istanbul.

Utku Çakırözer, a parliamentary deputy from the main opposition party CHP, visited Düzkan on June 6 and said the journalist was eligible for release under judicial control, but her release was delayed because the paperwork was sent to the wrong prison, the news website Gazete Duvar reported.

Düzkan was sent to prison in January and transferred to a low-level security prison in May, CPJ documented.