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A Turkey-backed Free Syrian Army fighter stands guard on top of a building in Sawran village, Syria on February 1, 2018. Turkish authorities have arrested at least 300 people, including journalists, who have made critical comments about Turkey's incursion into Syria. (Reuters/Osman Orsal

Turkey Crackdown Chronicle: Week of January 29

By Özgür Öğret/CPJ Turkey Representative on February 1, 2018 1:13 PM ET

Journalists arrested

Police on the night of January 23 detained İshak Karakaş, chief editor and columnist for the online newspapers Halkın Nabzı and Artı Gerçek, at his Istanbul home as part of a sweeping crackdown on people who have criticized Turkey's military intervention in Syria, the daily Evrensel reported.

An Istanbul court formally arrested Karakaş on January 26 on accusations of "making propaganda for a [terrorist] organization," according to the daily Evrensel.

Authorities have detained over 300 people for critiquing Turkey's incursion into Syria, according to a Reuters report.

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Turkish police detained Barış Ceyhan, an employee of the pro-Kurdish daily Özgürlükçü Demokrasi, after he made critical remarks on social media about Turkey's incursion into Syria, Özgürlükçü Demokrasi reported on January 31.

An Istanbul court then formally arrested Ceyhan on accusations of "making propaganda for a [terrorist] organization," and "provoking the people into animosity and hatred," his employer reported.

Journalists released

An Ankara court on January 26 released Hayri Demir, a reporter for the pro-Kurdish Mezopotamya News Agency, who was taken into custody on January 22 after making critical remarks on social media about Turkey's intervention in Syria, the online newspaper Gazete Karınca reported.

Authorities are still investigating the journalist, according to Gazete Karınca.

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A court in the southern city of Mersin released Özkan Erdoğan and Sekan Erdoğan, two employees of the daily Özgürlükçü Demokrasi, who are being tried on charges of "being members of a [terrorist] organization" and "making propaganda for a [terrorist] organization," the Mezopotamya News Agency reported on January 25.

The next hearing in the case is scheduled for May 22, according to the agency's report.

Authorities arrested the two employees in June 2017 based on Özkan Erdoğan's possession of an unspecified magazine, Özgürlükçü Demokrasi reported at the time.

Journalists and others at court

Turkey on January 29 submitted comments to the European Court of Human Rights regarding the situation of imprisoned journalists Mehmet Altan and Şahin Alpay, who are at the center of an ongoing judicial crisis in Turkey, according to the independent journalism platform P24.

While Turkey's Constitutional Court has ordered the pair's release from government detention during their trial, local courts have refused to recognize the high court's ruling, according to media reports.

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An Istanbul court reversed its earlier decision to release Taner Kılıç, a lawyer and the local head of human rights group Amnesty International, on January 31, according to a statement from his employer and the BBC.

Authorities charged Kılıç of "being a member of a [terrorist] organization." He has been in custody since June 2017, according to news reports from that time.

According to the Amnesty statement, the next hearing in Kılıç's trial is scheduled for June 21.


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