14 articles of the “disinformation” bill pass through Parliament, journalist Çetin Kurşun sentenced to imprisonment of 13 years and 3 months; prosecution demands conviction against journalist Hayri Demir; RTÜK hands out penalties to Tele1, KRT, Halk TV and Kafa Radio
14 articles of the “disinformation” bill pass through parliament
The debate on the Law Draft on the Amendment of the Press Law and on Some Other Laws, which the governing party refers to as the “Law to Combat Disinformation” and known by opposition as the “censorship law” and “social media law,” continued at the General Assembly of Parliament. While two articles of the 40-article bill were ratified on Tuesday, 4 October another 12 articles passed through Parliament on Thursday, 6 October.
The 14 articles of the law proposal currently ratified make it mandatory for contact information of news websites to be shared in an easily accessible manner. Moreover, content published on news websites are to be kept for two years in full form and with verification to be handed over to the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Offices if requested.
The proposal also determines the application for characteristics and types of press cards. Accordingly, press card applications will be made to the Directorate of Communications. The press card will be recognized as an official identity card.
When the debate on the bill commenced at the General Assembly of Parliament, journalists’ organizations and journalists entered the General Assembly wearing black masks. Opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) MPs welcomed the journalists by displaying placards reading “No to the censorship law,” “We want freedom of expression and the press” and “Withdraw the unconstitutional draft.” Pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and İyi Party MPs responded to the bill with applause.
You may view the debate in Parliament on the bill here.
Journalist Çetin Kurşun sentenced to imprisonment of 13 years and 3 months
The fourth hearing in the retrial of now-defunct Azadiya Welat newspaper reporter Çetin Kurşun on charges of “membership in a terrorist organization” and “terrorism propaganda” was held at the Mardin 2nd High Criminal Court on 6 October 2022.
The prosecution provided their opinion as to the accusations at the hearing, which Kurşun and his attorney did not attend. The prosecutor demanded that Kurşun be convicted on impugned crimes.
Making its decision in the absence of Kurşun and his attorney, the court sentenced Kurşun to imprisonment of 8 years and 3 months on charges of “membership in a terrorist organization” and of 5 years on charges of “terrorism propaganda.” The court did not reduce the sentence and issued an order for Kurşun’s arrest.
Prosecution demands sentencing of Hayri Demir
The 14th hearing in the trial of journalist Hayri Demir on charges of “membership in a terrorist organization” and “terrorism propaganda” over his journalistic activities in northern Syria was held at the Ankara 15th High Criminal Court on 4 October 2022.
Demir and his attorney Nuray Özdoğan attended the hearing, which P24 followed.
The prosecutor provided their opinion as to the accusations and demanded conviction against Demir on charges of “membership in a terrorist organization” and “terrorism propaganda.”
Demir’s attorney Nuray Özdoğan demanded additional time to prepare defense statements against the accusations. The court accepted the request and adjourned the trial until 21 December 2022.
For a detailed news report on the hearing, please click here.
RTÜK hands out penalties to Tele1, KRT, Halk TV, Kafa Radio
Radio and Television Supreme Council’s (RTÜK) member for the CHP İlhan Taşcı announced the penalties handed out during the board meeting on 6 October 2022 on his Twitter account.
According to Taşçı’s tweets, RTÜK handed out two counts of an administrative fine of 3 per cent of revenue to Tele 1, two to Halk TV and one to KRT due to programmes that featured statements by criminal organization leader Sedat Peker on Turkuvaz Media Group Deputy Chairman Serhat Albayrak and AKP Erzurum MP Zehra Taşkesenlioğlu, who have been named in connection with bribery allegations.
Taşçı also stated that RTÜK handed out administrative fines of 3 per cent of revenue to Kafa Radio due to Nihat Sırdar’s words on his programme, who criticised İsmail Kahraman over his words, “We did not fire a single shot during İzmir’s liberation.”
Lawsuit filed against journalist Nişmiye Güler
An indictment has been prepared against JinNews editor Nişmiye Güler on charges of “terrorism propaganda” over her social media posts.
The indictment, which was prepared following the investigation launched by the İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, referred to JinNews as a “so-called news platform.” The indictment was accepted by the İstanbul 27th High Criminal Court. The first hearing will be held on 19 January 2023.
Lawsuit brought against journalists Özgür Boğatekin, Hacı Boğatekin
A lawsuit has been filed against journalists Özgür Boğatekin and Hacı Boğatekin on charges of "defamation" over some news reports of bribery concerning judge Batuhan Maraşlı in Gerger, Adıyaman in October 2018.
The first hearing of the trial, which has gone underway after the Council of Judges and Prosecutors ruled that the bribery allegations were unfounded, will be held at the Gerger Criminal Court of First Instance on 27 December 2022.
Action for compensation of 50,000 TL against BirGün by Minister Varank
The Minister of Industry and Technology Mustafa Varank filed an action for compensation against BirGün newspaper, which reported on a tender worth 208 million TL won by Varank’s cousin.
Varank is demanding 50,000 TL from BirGün newspaper, BirGün Chairman of the Board İbrahım Aydın and reporter İsmail Arı.
The news piece that was subject to trial, which was published on 4 September with the heading, “Varank’ın kuzeni köşeyi döndü” (“Varank’s cousin strikes it rich”) was based on Emlak Konut’s statement given to the Public Disclosure Platform (KAP).
Journalists Hakan Yalçın, Zişan Kürüm assaulted by the police during news coverage
Mezopotamya Agency (MA) reporter Hakan Yalçın was subjected to police intervention while he was covering a demonstration.
Yalçın, who was monitoring the demonstration on 2 October 2022 in Van’s Hacıbekir neighbourhood by women’s organizations against the killing of Mahsa Amini, by Iran’s morality police, was assaulted by law enforcement officers and forced away from the area.
Women who responded to a call for a demonstration by Ankara Women’s Platform’s on 2 October in the capital city came under police break up when they wanted to read out a press statement to commemorate Mahsa Amini and other women killed in Iran by the morality police.
While police officers prevented journalists from obtaining images and records of the press statement, the riot squad removed members of the press from the area. Meanwhile, Solfasol reporter Zişan Kürüm was beaten by the police while filming the demonstration.
Şarköy Mayor’s older brother attacks journalist Deniz Önal
Editor of the Şarköy’ün Sesi newspaper Deniz Önal was punched by Alper Var, older brother of Alpay Var, who is a member of the CHP and Şarköy’s Mayor on 3 October 2022. Alper Var also threatened to kill Deniz Önal’s father Yakup Önal, who is the publisher of the newspaper.
Yakup Önal stated that the attack occurred because of a news item they published in the newspaper on an investigation regarding irregularities and forgery of documents with Alpay Var at the centre of allegations.
Following the attack, Deniz Önal acquired a medical report from the Şarköy State Hospital and gave a statement at the police station.
About the incident, Yakup Önal stated that he was repeatedly subject to verbal attacks by Alper Var and his relatives. Önal said, “An old woman, who witnessed the punching, gave her testimony. The attacker was released without being kept in detention. Unfortunately, this is the situation. They said that they will not let us stay in Şarköy.”
Journalists detained during protest in Diyarbakır released
Six people including Mezopotamya Agency (MA) reporter Eylem Akdağ and journalist Azat Taşkın were arrested at the demonstration in Diyarbakır on 4 October 2022 to protest the murder of journalist and academic Nagihan Akarsel.
The six people were charged with “opposing Law 2911 on Demonstrations and Meetings” and “terrorism propaganda.” The six people were then released following procedures at the police station on the night of 5 October.
“Turkey demands extradition of people from Sweden in terror list”
According to a news report by Odatv, Turkey demanded extradition of people in the terror list from representatives of the Ministry of Justice of Sweden who paid a visit to Ankara.
Journalists Bülent Keneş, Levent Kenez and Ragıp Zarakolu are among people Turkey demands to be extradited.
Prime Minister of Sweden Magdalena Andersson had previously stated that they reached a formal decision on their application to NATO on 16 May and added that it was a mutual decision taken with the main opposition party to protect the security and interests of the country. Following the decision, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had announced that they would not be in favour of Sweden and Finland’s membership applications to NATO as long as they continued supporting terrorism.
Journalist Sadiye Eser’s trial adjourned until February
The 22nd hearing in the trial of 33 people including journalist Sadiye Eser on charges of “membership in a terrorist organization” and “terrorism propaganda” was held at the İstanbul 6thHigh Criminal Court on 5 October 2022.
Eser’s attorney Nermin Selçuk was present at the hearing, which Eser did not attend.
The court adjourned the trial until 1 February 2023.
The trial of Ahmet Altan adjourned until January
The eighth hearing in the trial of journalist Ahmet Altan on charges of “insulting a public official” over his article concerning former Chief Public Prosecutor of the Appellate Court was held at the Anadolu 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance on 4 October 2022.
The court ruled in the hearing, which Altan and his attorney did not attend, that an inquiry be made regarding whether the file at the İstanbul 32nd Penal Court of First Instance was returned from the Appellate Court and adjourned the trial until 26 January 2023.
The trial had been recommenced after 10 years after Altan’s sentencing from another trial on charges of “insulting the President” held at the İstanbul 32nd Criminal Court of First Instance was approved by the Appellate Court in March 2018.
The trial of İsmail Saymaz adjourned until October
The hearing in the trial of İsmail Saymaz on charges of “illegally obtaining and distributing personal data” that was scheduled to be held on 4 October 2022 could not be held as the judge went on leave.
The trial which was held over the file was adjourned until 25 October 2022.
Saymaz is on trial because of reporting on prosecutor İlker Vural who attacked people in a hospital in Kayseri.
The trial of journalist Engin Korkmaz adjourned until February
The ninth hearing in the trial of Engin Korkmaz, managing editor of Antalya Körfez newspaper, on charges of “insulting the President” over his social media posts was held at the Antalya 19thCriminal Court of First Instance on 3 October 2022.
Engin Korkmaz and his attorney Tuncay Koç were present at the hearing which President Erdoğan’s attorney did not attend with an excuse.
The prosecutor provided their opinion as to the accusations and demanded conviction against the journalist for the impugned crime. Korkmaz provided his statement against the opinion. Repeating his defense statements from previous hearings, Korkmaz stated that his posts fell under the scope of the freedom of expression and the press. Korkmaz demanded his acquittal.
The court adjourned the trial until 6 February 2023.
The trial of journalist İdris Yayla adjourned until January
The ninth hearing in the trial of 28 people including Jiyan News Publisher İdris Yayla on charges of “violating the Law 2911 on Meetings and Demonstrations” was held at the Batman 1stCriminal Court of First Instance on 4 October 2022.
A number of defendants and defense attorneys were present at the hearing which Yayla did not attend.
The court ruled that three witnesses for whom orders were given to be brought to court by force be heard and adjourned the trial until 12 January 2023.
The trial of journalist İnci Aydın adjourned
The second hearing in the trial of journalist İnci Aydın on charges of “marking officials assigned in the fight against terrorism as targets” upon Musa Çitil’s complaint was held at the Aydın 2nd High Criminal Court on 6 October 2022.
Neither the parties nor their attorneys attended the hearing.
The court adjourned the trial until 25 October 2022.
The trial of Mehmet Göcekli adjourned until February
The second hearing in the trial of Demokrat Haber editor-in-chief and publisher Mehmet Göcekli on charges of “terrorism propaganda” was held at the 27th İstanbul High Criminal Court on 4 October 2022.
Göcekli’s attorney Ceren Kalı attended the hearing, which P24 followed. Göcekli’s attorney Kalı demanded that her client’s defense statement be taken by letter rogatory. The court accepted the request for a letter rogatory and adjourned the trial until 16 February 2023.
The indictment lists Göcekli’s social media posts from 2011 to 2016, which contain news items published by Demokrat Haber and shared on the Facebook page of Demokrat Haber from 2015 to 2018 as evidence of allegations.
Action for compensation filed against journalist Ceren Sözeri to continue in March
The sixth hearing in the trial of academic and Evrensel newspaper writer Ceren Sözeri for damages of 200,000 TL claimed by the Turkuvaz Media Group over Sözeri’s column published on 7 April 2019 with the title, “AKP’ye kim oy kaybettirdi” (“Who made AKP lose votes”) was held at the İstanbul 2nd Commercial Court of First Instance on 5 October 2022.
Sözeri and her attorney Devrim Avcı and complainant Serhat Albayrak’s attorney attended the hearing, which P24 followed.
Sözeri’s attorney Avcı demanded additional time to reconvey her client’s social and economic situation. The court adjourned the trial until 1 March 2023.
The trial of Hayri Tunç adjourned until December
The first hearing in the trial of journalist Hayri Tunç on charges of “inciting the people to hatred and enmity” over his social media posts was held at the İstanbul 42nd Criminal Court of First Instance on 6 October 2022.
Tunç and his attorney Arzuhan Halis attended the hearing, which P24 followed. Tunç provided his defense statement following his identification and stated that his social media posts subject to allegations were news content and none contained elements of the impugned crime.
Tunç’s attorney Halis demanded additional time to prepare defense statements. The court accepted the request, and adjourned the trial until 6 December 2022.
Three trials of Ahmet Sever adjourned
The three separate trials of Ahmet Sever, journalist and the former press consultant for the 11thPresident Abdullah Gül on charges of “insulting the President” and “insulting a public official” over his statements in his book İçimde Kalmasın Tanıklığımdır (“Better to Let in Out: My Testimony”) published in 2018 continued with a hearing at the İstanbul 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance on 6 October 2022.
Sever’s attorney Filiz Aydın attended the hearing, which P24 followed. Aydın demanded waiting for the response to the letter rogatory be returned. The court accepted the request, and all three trials were adjourned until 31 January 2023.
The trials concerning Sever were filed upon complaints by the President Erdoğan, Speaker of the Grand National Assembly of the Republic of Turkey Mustafa Şentop and Mustafa Varank, the Minister of Industry and Technology.
Baransel Ağca’s defense to be taken by letter rogatory
The third hearing in the trial of journalist Baransel Ağca on charges of “insulting of the President” was held at the İstanbul 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance on 6 October 2022.
Ağca’s attorney Bawer Kaya attended the hearing, which P24 followed. Kaya demanded that the defense statement of his client, who lives abroad, be taken through letter rogatory. Kaya reminded the court of the violation ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in an application by Vedat Şorli and stated that the trying Kaya was unconstitutional as “it contradicts the principles of equality before the law and rule of law.”
Kaya also demanded that the arrest order issued for Ağca in the second hearing of the trial on 17 May 2022 be lifted.
The court rejected Kaya’s objection of unconstitutionality and upheld the arrest order on Ağca. The court ruled that a letter rogatory be drafted for identification of Ağca’s statement and adjourned the trial until 14 February 2023.
The indictment lists social media posts shared by Ağca in 2016 and 2021 as evidence for the allegations.
The court had ruled that an arrest warrant be issued for Ağca in the second hearing in the trial on 17 May 2022.
At least 68 journalists, media workers currently in prison
There are at least 68 journalists and media employees who are in prison either pending trial or serving sentence in Turkey as of 10 October 2022.
The full list can be accessed here.