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The flag-wrapped coffin of a Turkish soldier who was killed during the operation against Syria's Afrin region, is carried by guard of honor members during his funeral ceremony in Istanbul, Turkey in February 2018. Yusuf Ozan, a morning news host for the Islamist Akit TV channel, said journalists with the daily Cumhuriyet should be “slaughtered” because he did not approve their coverage of Turkey’s military action in Syria, Cumhuriyet reported on February 11. (Reuters/Osman Orsal)

Turkey Crackdown Chronicle: Week of February 12, 2018

By Özgür Öğret/CPJ Turkey Representative on February 15, 2018 3:05 PM ET

Journalist released, said he was sexually abused in custody

Turkish authorities on February 14 released from prison photojournalist Çağdaş Erdoğan after an Istanbul court decided he should be tried without arrest, the online newspaper Artı Gerçek reported.

During his court hearing, also on February 14, Erdoğan said that four police officers sexually harassed him on September 3, 2017, the day he was taken into custody, the newspaper reported.

According to Artı Gerçek, the photojournalist also said agents of the National Intelligence Agency visited him after he was detained and threatened him with legal action if he did not share source information with them, according to the paper.

Erdoğan is on trial for being a member of and making propaganda for a "terrorist organization," after he photographed a government building in Istanbul, according to the paper and CPJ research.

According to Artı Gerçek, his next hearing is set for June 1.

Imprisoned journalist said mistreated in custody

İdris Yılmaz, a local journalist from the eastern city of Van, told his family during a phone call that he has been mistreated in custody at a high security facility in the eastern Elazığ province, the daily Özgürlükçü Demokrasi reported on February 10.

Yılmaz said he was not allowed to go to the toilet when he was transported to the prison from the court; he is being kept in isolation; and the prison authorities do not allow him to buy anything from the prison canteen, even water, according to the newspaper report.

Journalist acquitted

An Istanbul court on February 15 acquitted veteran freelance journalist Ertuğrul Mavioğlu on charges of "insulting the president" during the first trial hearing, the independent news site Bianet reported.

Mavioğlu was on trial regarding a 2015 tweet in which he referred to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as a "lowly murderer."

Journalists detained

The Turkish police on February 11 detained İbrahim Gezici, a politics blogger who lives in Cologne, at Istanbul's Sabiha Göçmen Airport as he was arriving from Germany, according to the blogger's tweets. The next day, Turkish authorities released Gezici under judicial control with a ban on foreign travel; the blogger did not provide more details in his tweets.

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Turkish police in the southern city of Izmir on February 13 detained, and later released, Ahmet Kanbal, a reporter for the pro-Kurdish Mezopotamya Agency, due to what authorities said was a bookkeeping error, according to a report in the daily Evrensel.

Kanbal said he will file a criminal harassment complaint, Evrensel said.

Authorities have previously detained and released Kanbal on suspicion of "making propaganda for a [terrorist] organization" Evrensel reported and CPJ has documented.

Islamist outlet threatens opposition daily

Yusuf Ozan, a morning news host for the Islamist Akit TV channel, said journalists with the daily Cumhuriyet should be "slaughtered" because he did not approve their coverage of Turkey's military action in Syria, Cumhuriyet reported on February 11.

While reading the day's headlines on air, Ozan said Cumhuriyet was happy that Turkey lost 11 soldiers in Syria. The newspaper's headline, "11 Martyrs in Afrin," complied with the official line to refer to soldiers killed in combat as "martyrs."

Ozan then expressed support for a system of "one man rule," and a "Sharia regime," referring to the ultra-conservative Islamic canonical law, which, Ozan said, would allow the "traitor" Cumhuriyet staff to be hanged.

Cumhuriyet filed a criminal complaint against Akit TV for insult, libel, and provoking the people to commit crimes, Bianet reported on February 15.

Alican Uludağ, a Cumhuriyet reporter, tweeted on February 13 that the newspaper received dozens of threatening phone calls after the mentioned broadcast.

Government spokesperson does not want bad news reported

Mahir Ünal, a spokesperson for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), said that journalists publish bad news because they do not want the nation to have confidence in itself, the online newspaper Diken reported on February 11, sourcing the official Anatolia Agency.

"Watch the prime time news for 30 minutes, you would think this nation does nothing but steal, abuse, molest children, [and other] ugly things," Ünal said, adding that the government is "aware of this" alleged trend.

Pro-government journalist: Authorities manipulate justice

Nagehan Alçı, a pro-government columnist for the daily Habertürk, wrote in her February 10 column that high ranking state and judicial authorities had called her "naïve" for stating that imprisoning journalists on terrorism-related charges harms public opinion of Turkey's fight against terrorism.

According to Alçı, the officials told her that journalists "would do much worse to us if they had the power. You do not compromise with these people. All will be arrested when their turn comes."

In her February 10 column, Alçı also denied a local media report that claimed she and her husband, pro-government journalist Rasim Ozan Kütahyalı, are being investigated for ties to the FETÖ Gullen movement, which Turkey classifies as a terrorist organization.


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