German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yücel, pictured with his wife Dilek before the M100 media awards in Potsdam on September 18. A Turkish court this week rejected a compensation case for Yücel's wrongful arrest over his year-long detention. (AFP/John MacDougall)

Turkey Crackdown Chronicle: Week of September 20, 2018

By Özgür Öğret/CPJ Turkey Representative on September 27, 2018 1:17 PM ET

Journalists jailed
Police on September 24 briefly detained and questioned Ergün Demir, chief editor of Akatos Haber, a local news website in northwestern Kocaeli province, the leftist daily Birgün reported.

Demir, whose September 21 report about a local man who allegedly took his life after being unable to provide for his family, become a symbolic issue for the current economic crisis. The pro-government media tried to smear Demir and his report, saying it was factually inaccurate and that the opposition was exaggerating.

After being called to the local police office, Demir was transferred to the local gendarme who are running the investigation, according to Birgün. The journalist was released under judicial control on the evening of September 24.

-- Police questioned Deniz Varlı, a freelance journalist from the northern province of Rize, for two hours on September 26 over his social media posts, the leftist daily Evrensel reported. The paper reported that police questioned the journalist over a tweet about the Rize Municipality cutting down a tree and demolishing a mosque. Varlı tweeted on September 27 that police did not question him about the post mentioned in the Evrensel report. He said he was questioned about two unrelated posts, "a photograph" and "a caricature," from a few months ago, but did not specify further details.

Because of the ongoing press freedom crackdown, social media is the only outlet for many journalists.

Journalists in court

A court on September 26 acquitted freelance photojournalist Sertaç Kayar of "making propaganda for a [terrorist] organization" during the first hearing of his trial in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır, Evrensel reported. Police investigated Kayar on accusations of "making targets of those assigned to combat terrorism" after he took a photograph on March 8 that included two police officers in the frame, according to the report. The charge was later changed into "making propaganda." Kayar said the police were in the frame by mistake, according to the report. Turkish authorities previously harassed Kayar for his reporting in December 2017, CPJ documented.

-- An Istanbul court rejected a compensation case for wrongful arrest that the lawyers for Deniz Yücel, a journalist for the German newspaper Die Welt, tried to file against the Turkish government, Deutsche Welle reported on September 25. The lawyers said they will appeal.

Yücel, a German-Turkish dual citizen who was imprisoned for a year pending investigation, was indicted, released and allowed to leave Turkey in February. President Erdoğan called the journalist a "German agent" and a "terrorist" while Yücel was imprisoned.

-- A court on September 25 handed Binali Erdoğan, a former cameraman for the state broadcaster TRT, a suspended sentence of 10 months in prison for "insulting" President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan via social media, the news website Diken reported.

-- The Constitutional Court on September 25 overturned a news ban on reports alleging corruption in the leftist daily Cumhuriyet, saying that the order was in violation of the freedoms of press and communication, Evrensel reported. The court ordered that compensation of 4,000 Turkish lira (US$667) amount be paid, according to Cumhuriyet

Cumhuriyet's former online chief editor Oğuz Güven and columnist Miyase İlknur filed an application after the ban on their reports about alleged corruption in Istanbul Municipality and the ruling AKP came into effect in March 2015. Hüseyin Avni Coş, then-Governor of Istanbul who was mentioned in the stories, filed a complaint that his personal rights were violated, which led to a court ordering the news ban, according to reports.

Editor's note: This blog post has been updated to clarify the item about Deniz Varlı, who was questioned over his social media posts.

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