Can Dündar, the exiled editor of Cumhuriyet newspaper, is pictured in Berlin, November 4, 2016.(Reuters/Axel Schmidt)

Turkey Crackdown Chronicle: Week of November 27

By Özgür Öğret/CPJ Turkey Representative on November 28, 2016 12:04 PM ET

Wire reporter released
Police in southeastern Mardin province today released Fethi Balaman, the leftist daily newspaper Evrensel reported. Police on November 29 detained the former reporter for the pro-Kurdish Dicle News Agency, which the government on October 31 ordered closed by emergency decree.

[December 1, 2016]

Police detain website editor
Police in the western Turkish town on Marmaris yesterday detained Vedat Beki, editor of Sözcü 18, a regional news website for Çankırı Province, Turkish media citing the İhlas News Agency (İHA) reported. Prosecutors in Çankırı have for nine months sought his arrest on suspicion that he is a follower of exiled preacher Fethullah Gülen, whom the government accuses of maintaining a terrorist organization and parallel state structure in Turkey that it accuses of masterminding July's failed military coup. Beki will be transferred to Çankırı to face those charges, according to press reports.

Police detain wire reporter
Police in the southeastern town of Kızıltepe yesterday detained Fethi Balaman, a former reporter for the shuttered, pro-Kurdish Dicle News Agency (DİHA), the daily newspaper Özgürlükçü Demokrasi reported. The reasons for the journalist's detention were not immediately clear, but Turkish authorities have persistently pursued DİHA journalists on charges that they produced propaganda for the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which the Turkish government classes as a terrorist organization. The government on October 31 used emergency powers it assumed after July's failed military coup to order the news agency closed by decree.

UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression reports on Turkish media crackdown
U.N. Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression David Kaye reported on his recent visit to Turkey in a guest article for Reuters headlined, "The high price of Turkey's 'witch-burning' crackdown."

Court bans reporting dormitory fire
The Aladağ Court of Penal Peace banned "any kind of news or interviews" in print, visual, internet and social media regarding last night's deadly fire at a school dormitory for girls from villages without schools, the government broadcast regulator, the RTÜK, announced. The RTÜK said the ban would remain in place until an investigation into the fire was complete, so that "the investigation could be run in a secret and healthier way, [to protect] public health, social order, and public security." At least 11 girls died in the fire and 22 others were injured, the BBC reported.

[November 30, 2016]

Police detain radio reporter attempting to cover mining accident
Police in Şirvan, in Turkey's southeastern Siirt Province, detained Hatice Kamer--a reporter for the BBC who also worked for the U.S.-government-funded Voice of America's Kurdish-language service under the pen name Khajijan Farqin--for a day as she attempted to report on a November 17 mining accident, according to press reports.

Court sentences wire reporters to four years in prison on terrorism charges
Mardin's Second Court for Serious Crimes sentenced Meltem Oktay and Uğur Akgül, two reporters for the shuttered, pro-Kurdish Dicle News Agency (DİHA), to four years in prison each on charges of producing propaganda for the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which the Turkish government classes as a terrorist group, in connection with material they published to social media websites the daily newspaper Özgürlükçü Demokrasi reported on November 25. Police detained the two in April. Akgül was swiftly released pending trial; Oktay was released pending trial in August. The court acquitted both of the charge of being members of a terrorist organization. Both are free, pending appeal, Özgürlükçü Demokrasi reported.

Cumhuriyet discontinues exiled editor's columns
The daily newspaper Cumhuriyet discontinued the column of its former editor, Can Dündar, the news website T24 reported on November 25. Dündar, whom the Committee to Protect Journalists on November 22 honored with its International Press Freedom Award, went into exile in August after spending 92 days in jail in connection with the newspaper's reporting, saying he did not believe he could get a fair trial under the state of emergency. Ten Cumhuriyet journalists have subsequently been jailed pending trial. T24 reported that the decision to discontinue Dündar's column was taken in part because a court has cited Dündar's flight as justification to deny those journalists' appeals of the orders jailing them pending trial.

Freed American journalist describes months in Turkish prison
Lindsey Snell, a freelance American journalist jailed for two months in Turkey on suspicion of espionage after escaping from Syria, described her experiences in two articles published on November 25 and November 26. CPJ worked quietly to help secure her release.

Court orders news website censored
Ankara's Ninth Court of Penal Peace Citizen ordered access to the website dokuz sekiz haber, which is run by volunteer journalists, blocked, the website reported on Twitter on November 25.

Shuttered radio station resumes broadcast via satellite
Yön Radio, which the government ordered closed by emergency decree following a failed military coup in July, resumed broadcasting as a satellite radio station, the leftist daily newspaper Evrensel reported on November 26.

[November 28, 2016]

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