Constitutional Court rules against BİK's decisions; journalist Zeynep Kuray detained; lawsuit filed against journalist Nazan Özcan; gendarmerie raids Evrensel reporter's house
Constitutional Court: BİK’s decisions turned into instrument of punishment
The Constitutional Court evaluating several applications lodged by Sözcü, Cumhuriyet, BirGün and Evrensel newspapers ruled in its pilot judgement that the penalties imposed by the Public Advertising Agency (BİK) violated the freedom of expression and the press. The newspapers in question each will be paid TL 10,000.
The court decided that the right to freedom of expression and the press was violated by unanimous vote, and that the violations were caused by fundamental problems by majority of votes.
Stating the courts of first instance imposing advertising fines as per Article 49 under Law no. 195 is indicating a systematical issue, the Constitutional Court called on the parliament to address the article for this fundamental issue to be resolved. The court ruled for the implementation of “pilot judgement” procedure since the violations were caused by a fundamental issue, and postponed the examination of past and future applications filed on this subject for a year.
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Journalist Zeynep Kuray detained while monitoring protest
Journalist Zeynep Kuray has been taken into custody while she was covering protest held in front of Emlak Konut (GYO) (Real Estate Investment Company) by the workers of YDA Group, which constructed the Halkbank Plaza in İstanbul’s Ataşehir Finance Center.
Police broke up the demonstration staged by the workers, who are the members of İnşaat-İş and Dev Yapı-İş, on the ground that they have not been paid their compensation and overtime fees on 12 August 2022.
Journalist Kuray and the Confederation of Progressive Trade Union (DİSK) members were detained by police forcefully during the protest. Kuray was released after she gave her statement on the same day.
On her social media account, Kuray said, “Emlak Konut GYO executives lurching construction workers have filed a complaint against me by guidance of a police officer on the charge of ‘damaging public property’."Lawsuit filed against journalist Nazan Özcan
A lawsuit has been filed against journalist Nazan Özcan upon the complaint of Mustafa Doğan İnal, a former lawyer of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, on the charge of “libel” and “defamation”. The first hearing of the trial will be held at the İstanbul 34th Criminal Court of First Instance on 8 December 2022.
An indictment drafted by Türkşad Kunthan Uçuk, a prosecutor of the Press Crimes Investigation Bureau of the İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, claims that the news report in question contained expressions that could “offend the İnal’s honor, dignity and reputation.”
The prosecutor Uçuk stated in the indictment dated 6 July 2022 that the content of news in question “go beyond the limits of criticism within the scope of freedom of expression and the press" and “contains words and statements accusing unlawful act against the complainant.” Uçuk claimed that the defendant’s action constitutes “insult and defamation by means of media outlets” as “the content of the article does not contribute to a subject of public interest.” He sought conviction against Özcan on the ground that “there is concrete evidence to file a public case that the suspect has committed the crimes.”
The prosecutor Uçuk, who prepared the indictment, had previously conducted an investigation against Sedef Kabaş, asking the journalist to be imprisoned for up to 12 years and 10 months. Uçuk had also sued journalist Hayri Tunç for "inciting the public to hatred and enmity" over his posts on Twitter.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's former lawyer İnal has filed a lawsuit against journalists Izel Sezer, the editor-in-chief editor of İleri Haber and Doğan Ergün, a former chief editor of the website. Sezer and Ergün were sued on the charges of "insult," "slander" and "disclosing illegally obtained personal data " over a news report written by journalists Barış Terkoğlu and Barış Pehlivan covering the bribery allegations about İnal in the book titled "Cendere."
İnal sued Nazan Özcan, a former editor-in-chief of the news website bianet, over a news article called “Erdoğan'ın avukatının rüşvet iddialarını haberleştiren gazetecilere dava” (Lawsuit against journalists who reported on the bribery allegations about Erdoğan’s lawyer) covering the trial of İleri Haber editors.
Gendarmerie raids Evrensel reporter’s house at midnight
The gendarmerie raids İzmir correspondent of the Evrensel newspaper, Ramis Sağlam’s house at 03:00 on 8 August 2022. Sağlam learned from his neighbors that the gendarmerie had come to his house in Foça, İzmir when he was not at home.
Sağlam went to the Foça Gendarmerie Command to find out the reason for the raid but he was told that they had "no information" on the subject.
Sağlam stated, “Scientists, journalists and intellectuals are threatened and oppressed every day in our country. I could not find out the reason why the law enforcement officers came to our house in the middle of the night when we were not at home, even though the newspaper I was working for and my address were already known.”
At least 69 journalists, media employees behind bars in Turkey
There are at least 69 journalists and media employees who are in prison either pending trial or serving sentence in Turkey as of 13 August 2022.
The full list can be accessed here.