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People relax near Golden Horn in Istanbul, Turkey on April 4, 2018. An Istanbul court convicted in a retrial Hasan Cemal, a veteran journalist and a columnist for the news website T24, on charges of "making propaganda for a [terrorist] organization," according to news reports. (Reuters/Osman Orsal)

Turkey Crackdown Chronicle: Week of April 2, 2018

By Özgür Öğret/CPJ Turkey Representative on April 5, 2018 4:54 PM ET

Journalists sentenced

An Istanbul court convicted in a retrial Hasan Cemal, a veteran journalist and a columnist for the news website T24, on charges of "making propaganda for a [terrorist] organization," and issued a suspended sentence of 18 months and 22 days, according to an April 3 report from the daily Cumhuriyet.

The charges against Cemal relate to a series of articles he wrote in 2013 for the daily Milliyet about the withdrawal of Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK) forces from Turkey to Iraq, Cumhuriyet reported. The Turkish government considers the PKK to be a terrorist organization.

An Istanbul court had previously acquitted Cemal of these charges in May 2017, CPJ documented at the time. A regional appeals court revoked the acquittal in November 2017, allowing for a retrial, the Cumhuriyet said.

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An Ankara court on April 3 sentenced to prison for nine years and nine months Ali Ahmet Böken, a former executive for the Turkish state broadcaster TRT, after he was convicted of "being a member of a [terrorist] organization," the daily Hürriyet reported sourcing the Turkish Doğan News Agency (DHA).

Police on August 18, 2016, arrested Böken on suspicion of using the Bylock and Kakao Talk apps, according to Hürriyet and the state-owned Anatolia Agencycpj. Turkish authorities claimed that the apps were evidence of the journalist's membership in the Gülenist movement, which they consider a terrorist organization. Böken said he used Kakao Talk, but not for anything illegal, and denied using Bylock, Hürriyet reported.

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Media in court

An Ankara court rejected a petition to reopen from a pro-Kurdish television channel, Jiyan TV, which was shuttered by a decree from the state broadcast regulator RTÜK in 2016 on grounds that the channel was "a threat to national security," according to an April 4 report from the daily Evrensel.

Jiyan TV plans to appeal the decision at the regional appeals court, according to Evrensel.

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Reporter's father detained

Police in the southeastern city of Iğdır detained a journalist's 68-year old father after they were unable to find the reporter, Berzan Güneş, the news website 1habervar reported on April 4.

Güneş, a reporter for the pro-Kurdish Mezopotamya Agency, is wanted by authorities for questioning, according to 1habervar.

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Court issues arrest warrant

An Istanbul court on April 2 issued an arrest warrant and asked Interpol to issue a warrant, or red notice, for the former editor-in-chief of the daily Cumhuriyet, Can Dündar, on espionage charges relating to his 2015 reporting on Turkey's alleged weapons smuggling into Syria, according to news reports.

A Turkish court in May 2016 sentenced Dündar to seven years in prison on charges of revealing state secrets, CPJ reported at the time. The journalist, a recipient of CPJ's International Press Freedom Award, now lives in exile in Europe. He continues to work as a journalist in Europe, now editing the news website Özgürüz ("We are free"), of which he is a co-founder.

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Journalists in custody

Police in the southeastern city of Adana took into custody Filiz Zeyrek, a reporter for the all-women news outlet Jin News, her employer reported on March 30. The reason for her detention is unknown.

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An Istanbul court arraigned the owner and 19 employees of Gün Printing House on charges including "being a member of a [terrorist] organization," "making propaganda for a [terrorist] organization," and "aiding a [terrorist] organization," the independent news website Bianet reported on April 5.

Gün printed one of Turkey's last remaining pro-Kurdish dailies, Özgürlükçü Demokrasi, until both newspaper and printing house were taken over by Turkish authorities last week, CPJ documented at the time. Since the March 28 takeover, at least 33 paper and printing house employees have been detained, according to Bianet.

Gün Printing House owner Kasım Zengin will stand trial with 19 printing house workers: Erdoğan Zamur, Cemal Tunç, İhsan Sinmiş, İrfan Karaca, Kazım Göçer, Mehmet Emin Sümeli, Musa Kaya, Sadettin Demirtaş, Necati Hizarcı, Polat Arslan, Mahmut Abay, Cumali Öz, Mehmet Kadir Özkara, Özgür Bozkurt, Kemal Daşdöğen, Süleyman Güneş, Uğur Selman Kelekçiler, Muhammet Özkan, and Mürsel Demir.

Özgürlükçü Demokrasi's publisher İhsan Yaşar, editor Reyhan Hacıoğlu, and five newspaper employees -- Pınar Tarlak, Hicran Ürün, Nedim Demirkıran, M. Ali Çelebi , and Ramazan Sola, along with former employee Mehmet Beyazıt -- are all being held in custody without charge.

Four printing house employees are also being held in custody without charge: Cenk Kale, Cengiz Kaya, İsmail Ergene and Semih Tamay.

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Paper stops printing

Azadiya Welat, the last remaining Kurdish-language, pro-Kurdish daily, has been unable to find a printer after its former printer, Gün, was seized by Turkish authorities, Susma, a website focusing on freedom of speech issues, reported on March 30. The paper will continue as a website, Susma said.


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