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Binali Yıldırım, pictured giving a speech at Turkey's Grand Assembly in March 2018. A court ordered the daily Evrensel to pay damages to the former prime minister over its caricature of him. (AFP/Adem Altan)

Turkey Crackdown Chronicle: Week of November 1, 2018

By Özgür Öğret/CPJ Turkey Representative on November 8, 2018 12:47 PM ET

Journalists in court
An Istanbul court on November 5 convicted Yasir Kaya, a sports journalist formerly with Fenerbahçe TV or FBTV, of "being a member of a [terrorist] organization" and sentenced him to six years and three months in prison, according to reports. Kaya remained free pending appeal, according to the report. CPJ previously documented how authorities took Kaya into custody on August 12, 2017 and released him pending trial on March 24, 2018.

  • The leftist daily Evrensel reported on November 6 that an Istanbul court fined the paper 8,000 Turkish lira (US$1,472) over a column published in October 2015. The court ruled that the column about a pro-government businessman and media boss was slander, the report said. A lawyer for Evrensel argued in court that fining the paper over the column was a violation of the freedoms of press and expression.
  • In a separate case, an Istanbul court on October 8 ordered Evrensel to pay a fine of 10,000 Turkish lira (US$1,843 USD) over a caricature published as part of its "paradise papers" coverage from November 2017, the paper reported. The court ruled that Evrensel and caricaturist Sefer Selvi should pay 5,000 Turkish lira in damages to former Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım and 5,000 Turkish lira to his son, Erkam Yıldırım, who were portrayed in the caricature.
  • An Istanbul court on November 8 sentenced Hüsnü Mahalli, formerly with the daily Akşam, to two years and five months for "insulting the president" and one year and eight months for "insulting a public servant" on social media, Diken reported. Mahalli was arraigned by the court on December 15, 2016 and released on January 20, CPJ documented. The journalist is free pending the outcome of his appeal.
  • The trial of the defunct Karşı newspaper started in Istanbul on November 2, 2018, the daily Hürriyet reported. Karşı published only 66 editions between February and April 2014, before closing due to what it reported at the time as low circulation and financial problems. Prosecutors argued that the newspaper was in league with the Gülen movement. The court rejected an appeal for Eren Erdem, the former chief editor, to be freed pending the outcome of the trial. The next hearing was scheduled for January 9, 2019 according to the report.

Journalist released pending trial

Behram Kılıç, a journalist who previously worked for the now shuttered Aksiyon magazine and the dailies Zaman and Özgür Düşünce, was released from prison on November 1, Aktif Haber reported. Authorities took Kılıç into custody on November 8, 2017 as part of an investigation targeting the Istanbul-based Journalist and Writers Foundation, a non-governmental organization that was affiliated with the Fethullah Gülen movement. Turkish authorities have labeled the exiled cleric Gülen and his followers as terrorists and accused them of being behind the failed attempted coup in June 2016. The journalist is still on trial for "being a member of a [terrorist] organization."


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