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People take pictures in Istanbul with the Hagia Sophia in the background on April 21, 2018. An Istanbul court convicted 14 people affiliated with the daily Cumhuriyet on terrorism-related charges, the newspaper reported. (Reuters/Murad Sezer)

Turkey Crackdown Chronicle: Week of April 23, 2018

By Özgür Öğret/CPJ Turkey Representative on April 26, 2018 12:21 PM ET

Cumhuriyet trial ends, defendants sentenced

An Istanbul court on April 25 convicted 14 people affiliated with the independent daily Cumhuriyet on terrorism-related charges, the newspaper reported. The court placed the journalists and newspaper staff on probation and banned them from traveling until the appeals process has ended, according to reports.

More details on the sentencing can be found here.

CPJ has signed a joint letter condemning the verdict.

Journalist sentenced, released for health reasons

A court in the southern city of Antalya sentenced to prison Tuncer Çetinkaya, a former reporter for the shuttered outlets Zaman newspaper and Cihan News Agency, for 7 years and 6 months on charges of "being a member of a [terrorist] organisation," the daily Hürriyet reported on April 24. The court ordered him Çetinkaya released on probation to receive treatment for kidney failure, according to the International Federation of Journalists.

Journalist sentenced for "insulting" the minister

An Istanbul court on April 25 sentenced to prison İsmail Küçükkaya, a host with Fox TV Turkey, and his show guest, lawyer Fidel Okan, to 16 months and 20 days each for "insulting a public servant" and "humiliating the institutions and agencies of the Republic of Turkey," the daily Cumhuriyet reported. The court suspended the sentences for five years, according to the report.

Küçükkaya, who regularly hosts a morning news show on Fox TV, said during a broadcast on October 16, 2017, that the husband of Family and Social Policies Minister Fatma Betül Sayan Kaya is on a list of people who have the Bylock app on their smartphones, CPJ documented. Bylock is an encrypted messaging app that Turkish authorities claim is evidence of being a member of the Gülen movement, which authorities labelled a terrorist organization.

Okan was a guest on Küçükkaya's show when the host mentioned Kaya's alleged ties to the Bylock app.

The minister has denied using Bylock.

The Turkish broadcasting regulator RTÜK ordered Fox TV to pay three percent of the channel's monthly advertising revenue, according to the T24 report from October 15, 2017. Under Turkish law, the money from fines will go to the government treasury.

Social media crackdown continues

Turkey's Interior Ministry announced on April 23 that 710 social media websites were investigated the week of April 16- 23 for "promoting terrorism," insulting government officials, and hate speech; 208 people were being prosecuted because of their postings, the daily Evrensel reported.

Turkish government prosecutors frequently use social media posts as evidence against journalists, CPJ research shows.


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