Dozens arrested in operation targeting social media movement; Mümtazer Türköne released after more than 4 years behind bars; indictment issued against Müyesser Yıldız and İsmail Dükel; court upholds sentences handed down at Özgür Gündem solidarity trial; Halk TV broadcast suspended for 5 days
Access to website of Yeni Yaşam newspaper blocked
A criminal judgeship of peace in Hatay ruled to block access to the website of Yeni Yaşam daily on 25 September 2020. The judgeship did not specify the content it held as the grounds for its decision.
Halk TV broadcast suspended for five days
A five-day broadcasting ban on Halk TV, imposed in July by the Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK), will be implemented from 28 September 2020 to 3 October 2020. Halk TV was notified of the order for the implementation of the ban on 25 September. RTÜK imposed the penalty on Halk TV over journalist Hüsnü Mahalli’s commentary about Turkey’s foreign policy in an episode of the show “Medya Mahallesi” that was aired on 16 June 2020.
Trial of journalists in Antalya adjourned until January
Local journalists in the Antalya province appeared before the 2nd High Criminal Court of Antalya on 25 September 2020 for the seventh hearing in their trial on the charge of “terrorist organization membership.”
Journalists Özkan Mayda, former Zaman and Cihan News Agency reporter Cihat Ünal, Hasan Yavaşlar, Ömer Özdemir and Adem Akyürek were in attendance in the courtroom with their lawyers.
Ruling to send the file to the prosecution for the preparation of the final opinion, the court adjourned the trial until 12 January 2020.
A report about the hearing, monitored by P24, can be accessed here.
Dozens arrested in operation targeting social media movement “İsimsizler”
Writer and activist Temel Demirer, journalist Hakan Gülseven and lawyer Tamer Doğan were among dozens of individuals arrested on 25 September 2020 in early morning raids on their homes as part of an operation targeting alleged members of the social media movement “İsimsizler Hareketi” (the nameless’ movement).
The Twitter account that goes by the name “İsimsizler Hareketi” announced on Friday that lawyer Tamer Doğan, politician Perihan Koca, writer Temel Demirer, journalists Zeynep Kuray and Hakan Gülseven, Özen Kulaçoğlu and actress Defne Halman were among 24 people facing arrest warrants.
Gülseven was released after giving his statement. However, others remained in custody and their right to a lawyer was restricted for 24 hours. Demirer’s lawyer Zeynep Ceren Boztoprak said her client and others detained as part of the same operation faced a four-day custody period and that they would be brought to the courthouse on Monday.
Mümtazer Türköne released following Supreme Court judgment
Academic and former Zaman columnist Mümtazer Türköne was released from Silivri Prison on 24 September 2020 after the 16th Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Appeals overturned the conviction he was given in the “Zaman trial.”
Türköne, who was arrested on 5 August 2016, was sentenced to 10 years and 6 months in prison on the charge of “membership of a terrorist organization” at the end of the Zaman trial in 2018. The trial court had ruled for his detention pending the appeal process.
Media reported that besides Türköne, the Supreme Court has also overturned the convictions of former Zaman columnists Şahin Alpay and Ali Bulaç.
Habertürk reported on 24 September that the Supreme Court overturned Türköne’s conviction for “insufficient inspection” and held that he should have been charged with “aiding a terrorist organization.” His file is now expected to be sent to the 13th High Criminal Court of Istanbul for re-trial.
Two indictments against Fatih Portakal merged
Former Fox TV news anchor Fatih Portakal’s trial on the charge of “violating the Banking Law” over a Twitter post he shared in April about the coronavirus measures initiated by the government got under way on 24 September 2020 at Istanbul’s 46th Criminal Court of First Instance.
Portakal was in attendance at the hearing, monitored by P24.
The court ruled to merge a new indictment against Portakal, where he is accused of “insulting the president” over the same Twitter post, with the current file and adjourned the trial until 5 November 2020.
Journalist Zehra Özdilek acquitted
The fourth hearing in Cumhuriyet reporter Zehra Özdilek’s trial on the charge of “making those involved in the fight against terrorism a target” was held on 24 September 2020 at the 27th High Criminal Court of Istanbul.
In the final opinion announced during the hearing, the prosecutor requested Özdilek’s acquittal, saying that her act was within the scope of freedom of the press and the elements of the alleged crime had not formed. Ruling in line with the prosecutor’s final opinion, the court acquitted Özdilek. She was on trial for allegedly revealing the identity of a secret witness in a trial.
A report about the hearing, monitored by P24, can be accessed here.
Compensation case against Çiğdem Toker adjourned
A compensation case filed by the T3 Foundation against journalist Çiğdem Toker and Sözcü newspaper over a column Toker wrote on 28 January 2019 got under way on 24 September 2020 at the 3rd Civil Court of Küçükçekmece.
T3 Foundation seeks TL 80,000 in compensation. Accepting T3’s request to hear a witness in court and Toker’s lawyer’s request to include in the case file the report mentioned in Toker’s column, the court adjourned the trial until 15 October 2020.
Journalist İnan Ketenciler’s trial gets under way
Journalist İnan Ketenciler’s trial on the charge of “illegally obtaining or publishing personal information” commenced on 24 September 2020 at the Istanbul 55th Criminal Court of First Instance. Ketenciler is accused for shooting footage of guards mistreating a person and sharing the video on Twitter.
During the hearing, the court considered the possibility of the journalist being charged with “recording audio or video during an investigation and proceedings without authorization” instead of the charge leveled against him.
Ruling to drop the case if Ketenciler pays a down payment of TL 600 within 10 days as the equivalent of one month in jail, the court decided to adjourn the trial until 8 October if the payment is not made.
Indictment issued against Müyesser Yıldız and İsmail Dükel
An indictment was issued against Odatv Ankara News Director Müyesser Yıldız, who has been jailed since June, and Tele1 Ankara Representative İsmail Dükel, who was arrested as part of the same investigation and released pending trial.
A retired officer who goes by the initials E.B., who is purported to have provided Yıldız and Dükel with the information, is the third suspect in the indictment.
Yıldız, Dükel and E.B. are charged with “revealing classified information” in the indictment, which was sent to the 26th High Criminal Court of Ankara.
Journalist Alican Uludağ called in for questioning, news reports claim he was “arrested”
Alican Uludağ, a former courthouse reporter for Cumhuriyet daily, was called in for questioning on 23 September 2020 regarding a social media post where he criticized Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor Yüksel Kocaman for visiting President Erdoğan in the Presidential Palace following his wedding.
Several pro-government media outlets claimed that Uludağ was “arrested for making the chief public prosecutor a target.”
Turkish Journalists Union (TGS) issued a statement concerning the investigation against Uludağ, explaining that the journalist, who is also an executive with the Ankara branch of TGS, was not arrested. The statement explained that Uludağ went to the prosecutor’s office to give his statement upon receiving a summons.
Journalist Serkan Aydemir released
Journalist Serkan Aydemir was released from the Bitlis Type E Closed Prison on 23 September 2020 upon completing his sentence. Aydemir, a reporter for the local newspapers Bitlis Aktüel and Bitlis News, remained in prison for 4 years and 8 months, serving a 6 year and 3 month sentence he was given in 2016 on the charge of “membership of a terrorist organization.”
HDP’s Selahattin Demirtaş faces new indictment
The Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office has issued a new indictment against Selahattin Demirtaş, the former co-chair of Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).
Demirtaş’s previous remarks about Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor Yüksel Kocaman, who recently made headlines for visiting President Erdoğan following his wedding, were held as the grounds for the accusation in the new indictment, which seeks up to 8 years in prison for Demirtaş on the charges of “threatening,” “targeting public officials involved in the fight against terrorism.”
İsminaz Temel and Havva Cuştan’s trial adjourned
The trial of Etkin News Agency (ETHA) editor İsminaz Temel and reporter Havva Cuştan on “membership of a terrorist organization” and “disseminating terrorism propaganda” charges resumed on 23 September 2020 at the 27th High Criminal Court of Istanbul.
This was the 10th hearing in the trial. The court rejected the lawyers’ requests for the international travel bans imposed on the defendants to be lifted and adjourned the trial until 18 February 2021. The presiding judge told those in attendance that other "judges who previously lifted travel bans in ‘terrorism’ cases faced investigations afterwards.”
A report about the hearing, monitored by P24, can be accessed here.
Prosecutor seeks jail term for journalist Sabiha Temizkan
Journalist Sabiha Temizkan appeared before the 35th High Criminal Court of Istanbul on 22 September 2020 for the second hearing of her trial on the charge of “terrorism propaganda.”
Temizkan is on trial for sharing a news story on Twitter in 2014.
Announcing their final opinion, the prosecutor asked the court to sentence Temizkan for “disseminating propaganda for a terrorist organization through the press.” Granting Temizkan a continuance to prepare her defense statement, the court adjourned the trial until 15 October 2020.
Özgür Gündem trials adjourned until December
A trial where journalist Can Dündar and the former responsible editor of Özgür Gündem newspaper İnan Kızılkaya are accused of “insulting a public official” resumed on 22 September 2020 at Istanbul’s 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance. The accusation in the case stems from a report titled “Saray rejiminin en kullanışlı hakimi” (The regime’s most functional judge), published in Özgür Gündem on 22 June 2016, when Dündar symbolically assumed the role of editor-in-chief of the newspaper for a day. The trial, which was launched upon a complaint by Judge Bekir Altun, was adjourned until 15 December 2020.
Another trial where journalists Hüseyin Aykol, Zana Kaya and İnan Kızılkaya -- former co-editors-in-chief and managing editor of Özgür Gündem -- and former Kurdish politician Hatip Dicle stand accused for news articles published in the shuttered newspaper, also resumed on 22 September 2020 at the 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance. The four defendants are accused of “publicly degrading the government, the judiciary or the police force” and “publicly degrading the Turkish nation, the Turkish Republic and the Parliament” under Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK). Ruling to wait for the execution of the arrest warrant issued against Dicle, the court adjourned the trial until 15 December 2020.
Court upholds sentences handed down in Özgür Gündem solidarity trial
The 3rd Criminal Chamber of the Istanbul Regional Court of Justice upheld the sentences given in 2019 to journalists and civil society figures for taking part in 2016’s Substitute Editor-in-Chief campaign, organized to lend support to the Özgür Gündem newspaper.
On 3 April 2019, the 14th High Criminal of Istanbul had sentenced former Özgür Gündem Co-Editor-in-Chief Hüseyin Aykol to 3 years and 9 months in prison for “terrorism propaganda” while sentencing Faruk Eren, Ertuğrul Mavioğlu, Fehim Işık, Celal Başlangıç, Öncü Akgül, Celalettin Can, İhsan Çaralan and Dilşah Kocakaya to 1 year and 3 months in prison each on the same charge.
Media reported on 22 September that the regional court of appeals rejected the appeals against the convictions of Aykol, Mavioğlu, Işık, Can, Başlangıç, Akgül and Kocakaya. The court upheld the acquittals in the case.
Journalist Aziz Oruç to remain in prison
The second hearing of journalist Aziz Oruç’s trial on “terrorist organization membership” and “terrorism propaganda” took place on 21 September 2020 at the 2nd High Criminal Court of Ağrı.
Ruling for the continuation of Oruç’s pre-trial detention, the court lifted the judicial control measures imposed on his co-defendants and adjourned the trial until 9 November 2020.
A report about the hearing, followed by P24, can be accessed here.
Evrensel columnist Yusuf Karataş handed down prison sentence
The final hearing in the trial of Yusuf Karataş, a columnist for Evrensel daily and a central executive board member of the Labour Party (EMEP), on the charge of “establishing and leading an armed terrorist organization” took place on 21 September 2020 at the 9th High Criminal Court of Diyarbakır.
The court sentenced Karataş, who was on trial for attending the panels and workshops organized by the Democratic Society Congress (DTK), to 10 years and 6 months in prison for “membership of a terrorist organization.” The court also ruled for the international travel ban against Karataş to remain in place.
Prosecutor seeks conviction for journalist Ferhat Parlak
The sixth hearing in the trial of Ferhat Parlak, the publisher of the shuttered Silvan Mücadele newspaper, on the charge of “membership of a terrorist organization” took place on 21 September 2020 at the 11th High Criminal Court of Diyarbakır.
Parlak and his lawyer were in attendance. Presenting the prosecution’s final opinion during the hearing, the prosecutor asked the court to convict Parlak as charged. Accepting Parlak’s request for additional time to prepare his defense statement, the court adjourned the trial until 7 December 2020.
Investigation launched against president of humane society
Erman Paçalı, the president of the animal protection society HAYKURDER, is facing an investigation on the allegation of “incitement to hatred and animosity” over a social media post in which he reacted to the release of a suspect who was arrested for raping a puppy to its death. Paçalı went to the Silivri Police Station on 21 September 2020 to give his statement in relation to the investigation.
At least 83 journalists and media workers in prison
Following the release of Mümtazer Türköne and Serkan Aydemir, as of 25 September 2020 at least 83 journalists and media workers are in prison in Turkey, either in pre-trial detention or serving a sentence.
The full list can be accessed here.