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A police officer stands guard on a bridge during the 2018 Istanbul marathon. Two journalists were detained after separate raids in the city in February 2019. (AFP/Bulent Kilic)

Turkey Crackdown Chronicle: Week of February 10

By Özgür Öğret/CPJ Turkey Representative on February 14, 2019 2:41 PM ET

Police detain two journalists in separate raids
Police on February 12 detained Salih Turan, a freelance journalist who formerly worked for the U.S. government-funded broadcaster Voice of America and the Kurdish service of the Russian-state-funded outlet Sputnik, on accusations of "making propaganda of a [terrorist] organization" on social media and "being a member of a [terrorist] organization" meaning the PKK, the leftist daily Evrensel reported.

Turan was apprehended at his house in Istanbul and police confiscated his electronic devices. The journalist's lawyer was cited as saying that Turan was arrested for sharing his own news stories on social media, according to reports. Turan is at Silivri Prison in Istanbul, pending trial, according to the report.

  • Melike Ceylan, a reporter who used to work for the pro-Kurdish Mezopotamya News Agency, was taken into custody on February 13 after police carried out raids in Istanbul and three other cities on members of the Kurdish People's Democratic Party (HDP), the news website Ahval reported.

  • An indictment was presented to a court for Çağdaş Kaplan, former chief editor of the pro-Kurdish daily Yeni Yaşam, his former outlet reported on February 13. The indictment accused Kaplan of "making propaganda for a [terrorist] organization" (PKK) via social media posts, the report said. According to the indictment, Kaplan's social media posts protesting the shuttering of the pro-Kurdish daily Özgür Gündem and referencing the daily Evrensel were evidence of criminal activity.

Court hearings including for ETHA and Meydan journalists

  • Atilla Taş, former columnist for the shuttered daily Meydan, was released on probation from Kandıra prison, in the western province of Kocaeli on February 8, according to reports. The journalist was taken into custody on November 8 when a local appeals court upheld a prison sentence of 37 months and 15 days, according to CPJ research. An Istanbul court on March 8 convicted Taş of "knowingly and willingly aiding a [terrorist] organization," referring to a group the government calls FETÖ, but released him pending appeal. Prior to that Taş was in custody from August 31, 2016, when he turned himself in after the failed attempted coup.
  • An Istanbul court on February 14 ordered İsminaz Temel, the editor for the leftist Etkin News Agency (ETHA), to be released pending the outcome of her trial, her employer reported. Temel has been behind bars since October 19, 2017, according to CPJ research. The next hearing was scheduled for April 24.
  • In a separate trial, an Istanbul court on February 14 ordered ETHA reporter Adil Demirci to be released pending the outcome of his trial alongside other defendants, his employer reported. Demirci was taken into custody on April 17, CPJ documented at the time. The next hearing was set for April 30.
  • A court in the southeaster city of Batman on February 13 convicted Veysi Altay, director of the documentary "Nû Jîn," (The New Woman) and Dicle Anter, son of murdered Kurdish journalist Musa Anter, of "making propaganda of a [terrorist] organization" (PKK) and sentenced them to two years and six months and two years and one month respectively, the news website T24 reported. Altay was found guilty for the documentary and Anter was found guilty of organizing a screening in Batman. "Nû Jîn" is about three Kurdish women in the city of Kobane during the fights against the militant group, Islamic State. The defendants were released pending the outcome of their appeal and a foreign travel ban was imposed, according to reports.
  • An Istanbul court on February 11 ordered four media workers from Gün Printing House, which produces a pro-Kurdish paper, to be released pending trial, Yeni Yaşam reported. Uğur Selman Kelekçiler, Musa Kaya, Mehmet Emin Sümeli, and Cemal Tunç were detained in March, CPJ reported at the time. The next hearing was scheduled for March 14.

CPJ joins European Parliament call to end press crackdown

CPJ on February 14 joined 47 members of the European Parliament and other press freedom organizations to call on Turkey to end its crackdown on the press and the mass imprisonment of journalists. The full statement can be read here.


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