Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Binali Yildirim, the new head of the ruling Justice and Development Party, pose for cameras at the presidential palace in Ankara, May 22, 2016. (Presidential Pool/AP)

Turkey Crackdown Chronicle: Week of May 22

By Özgür Öğret/CPJ Turkey Representative on May 23, 2016 9:44 AM ET

Prison sentences for newspaper editors
Istanbul's 13th Court for Serious Crimes sentenced Eren Keskin and Reyhan Çapan, former editor and news editor, respectively, of the pro-Kurdish daily newspaper Özgür Gündem, to three years and nine months in prison each on charges of spreading terrorist propaganda, the newspaper reported today. Both are free, pending appeal. In the past month, dozens of journalists have taken turns symbolically acting as co-editors of the newspaper to protest the government's persistent judicial harassment of the daily and its editors.

[May 27, 2016]

Turkey's Media Crackdown

More guest editors investigated over solidarity with pro-Kurdish daily
Authorities are investigating three more journalists and human rights activists over their involvement in a solidarity campaign with the pro-Kurdish daily Özgür Gündem, according to reports.

Erol Önderoğlu, the Turkey representative for Reporters Without Borders, Celalettin Can, a human rights activist and writer, and Sebahat Tuncel, a former parliamentary deputy with the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party, were taking part in a solidarity campaign in which they took turns acting as guest editor for Özgür Gündem, which has faced regular judicial harassment.

Önderoğlu, Can, and Tuncel were called to the prosecutors' office in Istanbul on Tuesday to give testimony, according to reports. They are being investigated over accusations of creating propaganda for a terrorist organization.

Önderoğlu told CPJ this is the first time in his career spanning more than two decades that a terrorism investigation has been filed against him.

Earlier this week authorities opened criminal investigations into five other journalists also involved in the campaign, bringing the total number of guest editors under investigation to at least 14, according to reports.

[May 26, 2016]

Court acquits biographer of insulting Erdoğan

Istanbul's Second Penal Court of First Instance today acquitted Mustafa Hoş, a journalist with the news website Gazeteport, of charges he insulted Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in his unauthorized biography of the president, Big Boss, Hoş wrote on Twitter. Hasan Yeşildağ, a friend of Erdoğan, had brought the case against him, Hoş wrote, noting that Erdoğan's lawyers have brought four other cases against him on charges of insulting the president, and that those case are still open. [May 24, 2016]

More journalists investigated for showing solidarity with Kurdish newspaper
Turkish authorities opened investigations into at least four more journalists who showed solidarity with the beleaguered pro-Kurdish newspaper Özgür Gündem, Ertuğrul Mavioğlu, a veteran journalist under investigation for the same reason, wrote on Twitter today. Ahmet Abakay, Ragıp Duran, Ömer Ağın and Nurcan Baysal face investigation for acting as a visiting co-editor-in-chief at the daily newspaper to protest the regular judicial harassment it has faced, Mavioğlu wrote.

If confirmed, the new investigations would bring the total number of people under investigation for acting as a visiting co-editor-in-chief at the daily to at least 14. Authorities on Saturday opened investigations into journalists Fehim Işık and Celal Başlangıç and human rights lawyer Eşber Yağmurdereli, according to press reports.

Prosecutors also interrogated journalists Mavioğlu, Faruk Eren, and Ayşe Düzkan about their participation in the solidarity campaign today, journalist Elif Ilgaz wrote on Twitter.

Authorities on May 17 opened investigations into Mavioğlu, Faruk Eren, Ayşe Düzkan, Mustafa Sönmez, and Melda Onur for participating in the show of solidarity, according to press reports.

Journalist to stand trial for reporting on murder
Felat Bozarslan, a reporter for Doğan News Agency (DHA), will stand trial for a news story and posts he wrote on social media about the August 2015 murder of Yunus Koca, a former youth leader from the ruling Justice and Development Party, according to press reports published Saturday. The journalist faces charges of "violating the secrecy of an investigation" and "preventing truths from being revealed," though authorities had not placed a gag-order on the case in question.

Prosecutors investigate anchorman for criticizing Black Sea development plan
Prosecutors opened an investigation into Mustafa Yenigün, an anchorman for the independent Flash TV channel, on charges of "insulting the Turkish nation, government, parliament, and judiciary," in a report raising ecological concerns about plans to build a road and a nuclear power plant on Turkey's Black Sea coast, Diken newspaper reported on its website Saturday.

[May 23, 2016]

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