Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan attends a news conference with European officials on March 26, 2018. An Istanbul court on March 29 acquitted Ahmet Altan of insulting Turkish President Recip Tayyip Erdoğan in a 2012 column in the now-shuttered daily Taraf, according to reports.(AFP/Dimitar Dilkoff)

Turkey Crackdown Chronicle: Week of March 26, 2018

By Özgür Öğret/CPJ Turkey Representative on March 29, 2018 4:31 PM ET

Pro-Kurdish newspaper seized

A government-affiliated insurer and fund manager took over one of Turkey's last remaining pro-Kurdish dailies, Özgürlükçü Düşünce, on March 28, and Istanbul police detained at least 27 of its staff members, according to news reports.

Police broke into a building in the Beyoğlu district that houses Özgürlükçü Demokrasi and its printer, Gün Printing House, on March 28, and authorities told the paper's legal team that Saving Deposit Insurance Fund (TMSF) had taken over the newspaper and printing house, according to reports and a CPJ alert. Police changed the locks on the paper's building, according to reports.

Police also raided the house of the newspaper's chief editor, Yıldız Yılmaz, and confiscated his electronic devices, according to a Mezopotamya Agency report from March 29.

Özgürlükçü Düşünce's publisher İhsan Yaşar and Gün Printing House owner Kasım Zengin are both in custody along with 25 printing house workers: Erdoğan Zamur, Kemal Kurt, Musa Kaya, Cemal Tunç, Kemal Daşdöğen, İrfan Karaca, Mehmet Emin Sumeli, İhsan Sinmiş, Uğur Selman Kelekçiler, Kazım Göçer, Necati Hızarcı, Mahmut Abay, Mehmet Özkara, Cumali Öz, Mürsel Demir, Polat Arslan, Süleyman Güneş, Cenk Kale, Cengiz Kaya, İsmail Ergene, Semih Tamay, Özgür Bozkurt, Sadettin Demirtaş and two men identified only by their first names, İsmail and Muhammet, according Mezopotamya Agency.

Journalists in court

An Istanbul court refused to hear Mehmet Altan's motion to appeal his case after the European Court of Human Rights last week ruled that Turkish authorities violated Altan's rights, according to a Twitter post by the voluntary news network, Dokuz8 Haber.

Altan, formerly a host with the now-shuttered Can Erzincan TV, was convicted on terrorism-related charges and sentenced to life in prison without parole on February 16, according to CPJ research.


An Istanbul court on March 29 acquitted Ahmet Altan, Mehmet's brother, of insulting Turkish President Recip Tayyip Erdoğan in a 2012 column in the now-shuttered daily Taraf, according to tweets from Punto24 Trial Watch, a Turkish news website focusing on freedom of expression.

Ahmet Altan will remain in prison, where he is serving a life sentence without parole on terrorism-related charges in an unrelated case, according to Punto24.


Journalist released under travel ban

Turkish authorities released from prison Yasir Kaya, a former news editor for the sports channel Fenerbahçe TV, and placed him under a travel ban, the online news website T24 reported.

Police arrested Kaya on suspicion of using the app Bylock, according to T24. Turkish authorities claimed that the app was evidence of membership in the Gülenist movement, which they consider a terrorist organization.

CPJ could not determine when Kaya's next hearing is due to be held.

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