AP-Cumhuriyet.jpg
Demonstrators hold placards and copies of the Cumhuriyet daily newspaper as they stage a protest outside a court where the trial of about a dozen employees of the newspaper on charges of aiding terror groups, continues in Istanbul, Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017. Most of them were released from prison earlier this month, but four of them, including editor-in-chief Murat Sabuncu and investigative journalist Ahmet Sik, are still in prison.(AP/Lefteris Pitarakis)

Turkey Crackdown Chronicle: Week of October 26, 2017

By Özgür Öğret/CPJ Turkey Representative on November 2, 2017 1:35 PM ET

Journalists detained:

Turkish police on November 1 briefly detained technology journalist Serdar Kuzuloğlu in Istanbul, the daily Hürriyet reported.

According to the Hürriyet, the police took Kuzuloğlu to the western city of Izmir, where a prosecutor questioned the journalist as part of an investigation into the Fetullah Gülen movement, which the Turkish government has classified as a terrorist organization.

Police released Kuzuloğlu later that day, according to news report. CPJ could not determine if authorities will further investigate the journalist.

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Police on November 1 detained retired journalist Şule Çizmeci, who had previously worked for the dailies Radikal and Milliyet among others, in the western town of Datça in the western town of Datça in connection with an investigation into the Fetullah Gülen movement, according to the news website Medyatava. According to the report, authorities will transfer Çizmeci to Istanbul.

Journalists released:

A Turkish court on October 31 released İnan Kızılkaya, the responsible news editor of the shuttered pro-Kurdish daily Özgür Gündem, and Kemal Sancılı, the paper's publisher, the independent news website Bianet reported.

The trial for Kızılkaya and Sancılı and other former employees of Özgür Gündem, is due to resume on March 6, 2018.

As the responsible news editor, Kızılkaya is held accountable under Turkish law for all of Özgür Gündem's content. Last year, he faced charges in more than 100 trials, CPJ's 2016 prison census found.

Journalists sentenced:

An Istanbul court on October 31 sentenced Mustafa Armağan, chief editor for the right-wing history magazine Derin Tarih, to 15 months in prison for "publicly insulting the memory of Atatürk," the daily Hürriyet reported. Armağan denied the charges.

According to Hürriyet, the court found Armağan guilty because the magazine published a letter allegedly written by Latife Uşakizâde, who was briefly married to Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of modern Turkey . The court found that the letter and an accompanying article, which both ran in the May 2017 issue of Derin Tarih, were demeaning to Atatürk.

Authorities did not immediately take Armağan into custody after the verdict, according to news reports.

Journalists in court:

Four additional witnesses on November 1 withdrew their testimonies during the third hearing in the trial against Nedim Türfent, a reporter for the pro-Kurdish Dicle News Agency, and said that they did not know Türfent, the online newspaper Gazete Karınca reported. The four witnesses said that police forced them to testify against Türfent.

The prosecution read one anonymous witness testimony against Türfent, which the defense said was fabricated, according to Gazete Karınca.

During the first and second hearings of the trial, 13 witnesses who submitted testimonies against Türfent withdrew their statements, and said they originally signed the testimonies because police threatened them, according to reports.

The journalist, who was detained May 12, 2016, is still in custody, and the trial is ongoing.

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At an October 31 hearing in the Cumhuriyet trial, an Istanbul court ruled that Akın Atalay, a lawyer and chairman of Cumhuriyet Foundation's board of directors, Murat Sabuncu, the paper's chief editor, and Ahmet Şık, a reporter at the paper, will remain in custody during the trial, online newspaper T24 reported.

During the hearing, an expert witness for the defense, Tuncay Beşikçi, refuted allegations by the prosecution that Cumhuriyet accountant Emre İper used the Bylock app, according to a document Beşikçi presented to the court during the hearing.

Bylock is an encrypted messaging app that Turkish authorities claim is evidence of membership in the Fetullah Gülen movement.

According to Beşikçi, İper downloaded music using an app called Freezy, which that has a code that links to the Bylock server in Lithuania. Therefore, Beşikçi said, the phone user appeared to be in the Bylock traffic although he never installed the app.

Press crackdown:

Turkish authorities continue to sell media outlets that the government appropriated after the failed attempted coup in June 2016.

According to a daily Hürriyet report from October 10, the country's Savings Deposit Insurance Fund started a public bidding for the assets for the following publications:

  • The national dailies Taraf and Özgür Gündem
  • The local dailies Adana Medya, Nazar and Yeni Emek
  • TV channels Art TV, Hayat TV and Kanal 24 TV
  • Radio stations Art Radyo, Haber Radyo Ege, Özgür Radyo and Uşak Radyo Klas

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