Barış Yarkadaş, the CHP party parliamentary deputy and a former chief editor of the online newspaper Gerçek Gündem, pictured outside the Cumhuriyet office in Istanbul in October 2016. Yarkadaş is convicted of violating privacy. (AFP/Ozan Kose)

Turkey Crackdown Chronicle: Week of February 2, 2019

By Özgür Öğret/CPJ Turkey Representative on February 7, 2019 1:36 PM ET

Court convicts parliamentary deputy and editor Barış Yarkadaş
An Istanbul court on February 7 convicted Barış Yarkadaş, the parliamentary deputy for the main opposition party CHP and former chief editor of the online newspaper Gerçek Gündem, of "violating the secrecy of private life" and handed him a suspended 10-month prison sentence, the news website Gazete Karınca reported. Yarkadaş told the court the story that led to the charges was published by a different outlet first and that as chief editor he did not have legal responsibility over a story published on the news website.

Police briefly detain Jin News reporter

Authorities on February 2 briefly detained Melike Aydın, a reporter for the pro-Kurdish all female outlet Jin News, as she was returning to Izmir from the western city of Aydın, where she had been reporting, her employer reported. The gendarme stopped Aydın on the highway, brought her to a police station in Izmir, and released her after questioning, according to the report. The report did not specify what she was questioned about.

Journalists on trial

  • A hearing for Safiye Alağaş, a news editor for Jin News who is accused of "making propaganda for a [terrorist] organization" (PKK), was held in Diyarbakır on February 5, Evrensel reported. The trial was merged with another case in which Alağaş is facing the same charge, and the next hearing was scheduled for May 23, the report said. The journalist did not attend the hearing, but her lawyer was present.

  • The first hearing in the trial of Fatih Polat, chief editor at the leftist daily Evrensel who is accused of "insulting the president," was held on February 7, his outlet reported. The charge relates to a May 2017 column in which Polat asked what the Erdoğan family had to say about a report published by the investigative outlet Black Sea on the alleged offshore dealings of the president's family. Polat included a copy of the article he was referring to in the column. Polat pleaded not guilty. The next hearing is scheduled to take place on May 14, according to reports.

Acquittals for journalists facing anti-state, slander charges

  • A Diyarbakır court on February 5 acquitted freelance journalist Sertaç Kayar of "making propaganda for a [terrorist] organization," according to his tweets.
  • A court on February 7 acquitted İdris Yılmaz, a local journalist from the eastern province of Van, of a charge of "slander" related to a video he published on the Gazete Yaşam website, the daily Evrensel reported. Yılmaz remains in prison. CPJ documented how a court last month sentenced him to six years and three months in prison for "being member of a [terrorist] organization" (PKK).

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