Turkish and European Union flags pictured in Istanbul's financial and business district in August. Turkey continues its crackdown on press freedom, with more journalists detained and questioned over their reporting this week. (AFP/Ozan Kose)

Turkey Crackdown Chronicle: Week of October 4, 2018

By Özgür Öğret/CPJ Turkey Representative on October 11, 2018 1:19 PM ET

Journalist sentenced to over 7 years in jail
A court in the eastern Muş city on October 10 sentenced Seda Taşkın, a reporter for the pro-Kurdish Mezopotamya News Agency (MA), to a total of seven years and six months in prison, her employer reported. Taşkın attended the hearing via teleconference from the Sincan Women's Prison, where she is being held.

The court sentenced Taşkın to three years and four months for "making propaganda for a [terrorist] organization" and four years and two months for "aiding and abetting a [terrorist] organization without being a member," according to the report.

In her final statement, after the prosecution's closing statements, the journalist said she denied the terrorism charges and that she was on trial for her journalistic work and social media posts. Taşkın said she was mistreated by the police while being taken into custody. She said she was handcuffed from behind and told that she would be strip searched. "I was subjected to torture both physically and psychologically" she said. Taşkın said that her past employment for the shuttered Dicle News Agency (DİHA) was being considered evidence of her being a member of a terrorist organization, and she reminded the court that it was a legit agency.

Journalists detained, questioned

  • Adnan Bilen, a reporter for the Mezopotamya News Agency, was questioned by police in the eastern city of Van on October 5, the daily Evrensel reported. Police detained 15 people during raids on houses in Van Province the previous night, as part of a search for several people including Bilen, the report said. Bilen went to the police on his own accord after hearing that police wanted to speak with him, and was released after being questioned about his social media posts.

  • Çağdaş Kaplan, chief editor for the pro-Kurdish daily Yeni Yaşam, was detained by the police in the early hours of October 7 and released around noon after being questioned about his social media posts, the Mezopotamya News Agency reported.

  • Police took at least six journalists and two newspaper distributors into custody, alongside 90 politicians, as part of a large crackdown in Diyarbakır on October 9, according to a report by Mezopotamya News Agency (MA).
    Mezopotamya News Agency journalists Abdurrahman Gök, Lezgin Akdeniz, and Esra Solin Dal were detained at Diyarbakır Police headquarters alongside Semiha Alankuş, from the pro-Kurdish Yeni Yaşam, Kibriye Evren, from the Jin News Agency, freelancer Cihan Ölmez, and Yeni Yaşam distributors Hayat Özmez and Savaş Aslan, according to the report. Evren was arrested alongside three politicians, MA reported.
    According to an October 11 report, the agency said that the journalists were asked questions such as, "What is your connection to the PKK/KCK?" "What is your code name in the organization?" "Who are the organization members you take your orders from?" and "How many times you exit the country illegally.?" Yeni Yaşam chief editor Kaplan tweeted on October 9 that the police broke the doors of their office in the city and confiscated the computers. As of late October 11, the journalists were still in custody.

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