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Eren Erdem, pictured right, in February 2015. The former CHP deputy and chief editor for the defunct daily Karşı, is convicted on anti-terror charges. (AFP/Necati Savas/Cumhuriyet Daily Newspaper)

Turkey Crackdown Chronicle: Week of March 3, 2019

By Özgür Öğret/CPJ Turkey Representative on March 7, 2019 12:57 PM ET

Journalist and former CHP politician sentenced
An Istanbul court on March 1 convicted Eren Erdem, the former chief editor for the defunct daily Karşı and a former parliamentary deputy in the main opposition party CHP, of "knowingly and willingly helping a [terrorist] organization without being involved in the organization's hierarchical structure," and sentenced him to four years and two months in prison, BBC Türkçe reported. The court acquitted Erdem of two other charges: "violating secrecy by means of exposing [a] secret witness" and "violating the secrecy of an investigation." Onur Cingil, the lawyer representing Erdem, said he expects the journalist will remain in prison for "16-17 months more" based on the time he has already served, according to reports.

Flash TV closes to 'prevent tainting impartiality'

Independent TV station Flash TV halted its broadcasts on March 1, blaming administrative, political and financial pressure, Deutsche Welle Turkish reported. In a final broadcast, available on Flash TV's YouTube channel, host Gökhan Taşkın, said, "We are silencing ourselves ... We are taking a break for a while to prevent tainting our 28 years of impartial and independent broadcasting. We need an independent media as much as we need independent judiciary. An independent media is a must in democracies. I hope we will be together again with good news, nice news. Farewell until that day." Flash TV covered entertainment, with some news.

TV5 fires host over guest's comments on LGBT rights

The pro-Felicity Party TV channel TV5 cancelled its show, "Those on the Agenda," and fired the host, Çağlar Cilara, after leftist politician Alper Taş made comments in support of LGBT rights during a March 4 broadcast, the news website Ahval reported. Taş is the CHP candidate for the Beyoğlu municipality of Istanbul in upcoming local elections.

In a statement issued on March 5, TV5 said that the pro-government media was using the interview as part of a campaign against the channel. It said the channel did not support Taş's comment and that it was cancelling the show. In a statement posted on Twitter, Cilara said, "The TV5 adventure is also over. Journalists in Turkey are caught in the middle of political polarization [and] brawl."

Felicity is a religious party that is one of the opposition parties to the ruling AKP.

Two journalists acquitted, but face new charges

A court in the southeastern city of Hatay on March 1, acquitted Nuri Akman, formerly with the shuttered, pro-Kurdish Dicle News Agency (DİHA), and Erdoğan Alayumat, formerly with the shuttered, pro-Kurdish news agency Dihaber, of "being a member of a [terrorist] organization" and "obtaining secret information of the Republic of Turkey for the means of political and military espionage," the leftist daily Evrensel reported.

A new criminal investigation accuses the journalists of "making propaganda for a [terrorist] organization" and "photographing forbidden military zones." The investigation cites their social media posts as evidence, according to the pro-Kurdish Mezopotamya News Agency.

Police detained Akman and Alayumat near Turkey's border with Syria on July 13, 2017, and Alayumat was sent to prison pending trial, CPJ documented at the time. Alayumat was held on suspicion of "obtaining secret information of the Republic of Turkey for the means of political and military espionage," CPJ's prison census found. He was released pending the outcome of his trial in May 2018.


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