Medical association head Şebnem Korur Fincancı imprisoned pending trial; 11 journalists arrested in house raids, 9 imprisoned pending trial; journalist İsmail Arı sentenced to 2 years in prison; RTÜK broadcasting ban penalty stayed
9 journalists imprisoned pending trial on "terrorism" charges
11 journalists working for pro-Kurdish media outlets Mezopotamya Agency and JinNews were arrested for producing news that “incite the people to hatred and enmity” during house raids carried out in nine provinces on 25 October 2022 as part of an investigation overseen by the Ankara Chief Prosecutor’s Office.
The Ankara Directorate of Security announced that 11 of the 14 journalists for whom arrest warrants were issued, were taken into custody.
The statement named the detainees as Mezopotamya Agency managing editor Diren Yurtsever, the agency's reporters Deniz Nazlım, Selman Güzelyüz, Zemo Ağgöz, Berivan Altan, Hakan Yalçın, Emrullah Acar, Mehmet Günhan and Ceylan Şahinli and JinNews reporters Habibe Eren and Öznur Değer.
Mezopotamya Agency reporter Zemo Ağgöz, who has a new-born baby, was released on house arrest on 26 October.
After spending four days in custody, the 10 journalists were brought to Ankara Courthouse to give their statement to prosecutors assigned to the case, who referred them to a criminal judgeship of peace late in the evening with a request for the imprisonment of all but Mehmet Günhan. The court ruled overnight to place journalists Diren Yurtsever, Berivan Altan, Deniz Nazlım, Selman Güzelyüz, Hakan Yalçın, Ceylan Şahinli, Emrullah Acar, Habibe Eren and Öznur Değer in pre-trial detention on the charge of "membership in a terrorist organization" in early hours of 29 October.
The imprisonment of the nine journalists brought the number of jailed journalists in Turkey to 76. Our full list can be viewed here.
Şebnem Korur Fincancı put behind bars over remarks on alleged use of chemical weapons
Şebnem Korur Fincancı, the president of the Central Council of the Turkish Medical Association (TTB) and a prominent human rights defender, was imprisoned pending trial on 27 October 2022 on charges of “terrorism propaganda” and sent to Sincan Closed Women’s Prison. She was under investigation over her televised remarks calling for investigation into allegations of the use of chemical weapons by the military in overseas operations.
At her statement to the prosecutor’s office, Korur Fincancı underlined she did not admit the impugned crimes and said: “As a medical practitioner, I do not know whether the news channel in question is affiliated with the PKK, and I’m not interested in this. At a conference on ‘Prisons and Human Rights’ held in Germany by the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, a colleague whom I met there and whose citizenship I do not know showed a video to various medical practitioners, including myself. We watched this video and shared our opinions. The comment you are asking regarding chemical, toxic and poison gas in the images we examined was a preliminary assessment. The international Geneva Convention requires an application by states for an inquiry to be undertaken. Before this incident, I have never spoken live on record on the use of chemical weapons such as on Medya Haber TV."
The prosecutor’s office had launched an investigation into Şebnem Korur Fincancı’s remarks on 20 October 2022 on charges of “terrorism propaganda" and “denigrating the state of the Republic of Turkey, the institutions and organs of state.” After she was arrested at her home in İstanbul on 26 October 2022, Korur Fincancı was taken to Ankara, where she was eventually put behind bars.
Journalist İsmail Arı sentenced to 2 years of imprisonment
The fourth hearing in the trial of BirGün newspaper reporter İsmail Arı on charges of “illegally obtaining and disseminating personal data” over a news item he prepared was held at the İstanbul 58th Criminal Court of First Instance on 27 October 2022.
While journalist Arı did not attend the hearing, his lawyer Tolgay Güvercin and co-plaintiff Kerem Kınık’s lawyer were present.
The prosecutor repeated their opinion as to the accusations voiced at the hearing on 11 October 2022. The prosecution demanded sentencing for Arı for the impugned crime, citing that the news item “Kızılay Başkanı ile Genel Müdürü’ne kesilen para cezalarının belgelerine BirGün ulaştı” (“BirGün obtains documentation of the fines issued to the President and general Director of the Turkish Red Crescent”) published in the newspaper on 6 October 2020 had featured copies of payment slips with the bank account details of Turkish Red Crescent President Kerem Kınık, which constitute personal data, “not redacted and clearly visible.”
Lawyer Güvercin stated that the news item in question constituted journalistic follow-up. Citing the appellate court ruling which the prosecution referred to in its opinion as to the accusations, Güvercin said that the definition of “baking information” in that ruling covered information pertaining to account security and not names and surnames.
The court sentenced Arı to 2 years of imprisonment and deferred the sentence.
Journalist İnci Aydın acquitted
The third hearing in the trial of journalist İnci Aydın on charges of "marking officials assigned in the fight against terrorism as targets" over an article she wrote and upon a complaint by retired officer Musa Çitil was held at the Aydın 2nd High Criminal Court on 25 October 2022.
Journalist Aydın and her lawyer Sercan Korkmaz presented an excuse not to attend the hearing.
Presenting their opinion as to the accusations, the prosecutor said that the article subject to the charge had been written by HDP MP and Women’s Assembly Spokesperson Ayşe Açar Başaran and that the impugned crime had not been committed by Aydın.
Deciding that Aydın had not committed the impugned crime, the court ruled to acquit Aydın of the charge.
Aydın had been tried for the article titled “İktidara notumuz yok lafımız var: Haksızlıklarınla göndereceğiz!” (“We Don’t Grade the Government, We Criticize It; We’ll Send It Off with Its Injustices”) that appeared in the Women’s Supplement of the Yeni Yaşam newspaper.
Journalist Ceren Erdoğdu detained while reporting
Yolculuk newspaper contributor Ceren Erdoğdu was detained on 26 October 2022 while covering the protests against the arrest of Şebnem Korur Fincancı, President of the Central Council of the Turkish Medical Association (TTB).
Erdoğdu announced her release on Twitter on 27 October.
Journalists Gülistan Dursun, Hayri Tunç assaulted by the police, Zeynep Kuray detained
JinNews reporter Gülistan Dursun and journalist Hayri Tunç were assaulted by the police on 28 October 2022 while reporting and journalist Zeynep Kuray was detained.
On the 32nd week of the Justice Watch protests, the families and relatives of ill convicts and convicts whose sentences were prolonged met outside the İstanbul Courthouse in Çağlayan on 28 October 2022.
Cemile Çiftçi, sister of Selim Çiftçi imprisoned at the Ümraniye L-Type Closed Prison and Fince Akman, mother of Yakup Akman imprisoned at the Silivri F-Type Closed Prison No. 3 attended the protest.
Akman and Çiftçi were cordoned off by the police as they tried to march to the square. Journalists Dursun and Tunç were assaulted by the police during this incident. Police officers tried to confiscate Dursun’s camera. Journalist Zeynep Kuray, who was also reporting, was assaulted by male police officers and put in handcuffs behind her back.
The Constitutional Court to review the “disinformation" law on its merits
In its inquiry into article 29 of the Law on Amendments to the Press Law and Some Other Laws, which the government has dubbed “combating disinformation” and journalists’ organizations have described as “censorship,” the Constitutional Court has decided to oversee the application on its merits.
Having not identified any deficiencies in the application, the Plenary of the Constitutional Court will debate the request for annulment on its merits on a date to be established later. The request for stay of execution of the legislation will also be decided on during the evaluation of merits.
The opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) had filed a request for annulment and stay of execution of article 29 of the law which makes “publicly disseminating information deceiving to the public” a crime punishable by up to 3 years of imprisonment.
Article 29 of the new law, which passed through parliament on 13 October 2022 with governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) MPs' votes, foresees sentencing of up to 3 years for the offense of “publicly disseminating information that is misleading to the public.” According to the law, news websites will now be considered periodic publications subject to the Press Law and will be required to keep the content they publish archived for at least two years. They will also be obligated to publish the responses or corrections sent by individuals who have been "damaged" by the articles they publish. The law also establishes applications for, characteristics and types of press cards. Accordingly, applications for press cards are to be made to the Presidency of Communications. Press cards will be considered official IDs.
Please see our article on the details of criticisms of the law.
Stay of execution for the RTÜK’s broadcast ban on Tele1
On 25 October 2022, the Ankara 2nd Administrative Court unanimously voted to rule to stay the execution of the three-day broadcast ban issued by the Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) on Tele1.
The penalty issued on 19 October 2022 was justified by the statement by Workers’ Party of Turkey (TİP) MP Sera Kadıgil on Tele1, who said “in its current form the [Presidency of] Religious Affairs is a tool of political İslam
Tele 1 would be permanently shut down by RTÜK if it had received a similar penalty before February 2023.
“Unity of the state” justification for banning Tele1, Halk TV at Van Prison
Detainees and convicts at Van High Security Prison have recounted that Halk TV and Tele1 had been removed from the satellite menu due to “technical issues and lack of means” and the channels were not added to the menu later, despite their requests and Halk TV and Tele1 coming up in first place in a survey run by the prison administration.
The prisoners stated that the Evrensel and Yeni Yaşam newspapers were not procured by the prison because they are not on the “list of newspapers which may publish official announcements and adverts.”
Finally, the prisoners stated that regarding the issue, the prison administration and observation board had said “We prioritize channels that respect the indivisible unity of the state with the country and the nation, that do not praise or encourage terrorism and that do not broadcast in opposition to the national and spiritual values of society, general morality and the protection of the family.”
Case filed against writer Gökhan Yavuzel for “inciting the people to hatred and enmity”
A case has been filed against writer Gökhan Yavuzel over his article titled “Sanat ve iktidar ilişkisi” (“The art-power relationship”) which was published on the gaztedavul.com website on 31 January 2021. In the indictment prepared by the Şanlıurfa Chief Prosecutor’s Office, Yavuzel is charged with “inciting the people to hatred and enmity.”
Four issues of the Atılım newspaper banned and collected
The İstanbul Chief Prosecutor’s Office has issued a ban on the printing, distribution, and sale of four issues of the Atılım newspaper on 28 October 2022 on charges of “terrorism propaganda.”
The decision to ban and collect issues of the newspaper was based on the reporting and articles on claims that the Turkish Armed Forces had used chemical weapons that appeared in issues 82 through 85 of the newspaper, which appeared on 30 September and, 7, 14 and 21 October respectively.
Trial of journalists İrfan Tunççelik, Ümit Turhan adjourned until February
The third hearing in the trial of journalists İrfan Tunççelik and Ümit Turhan Coşkun on charges of “opposition to Law 2911 on Meetings and Demonstrations” and “aiding a terrorist organization without being its member” was held at the İstanbul 23rd High Criminal Court on 25 October 2022.
While Tunççelik and Coşkun did not attend the hearing, their lawyers Meltem Özel, Adem Peker, Emrah Öztürk and Xebat Demircan were present.
The prosecution requested a re-examination of the CDs, information and documents included in the case by an expert. Lawyer Xebat Demircan said that an expert’s report was already included in the file and that the prosecution’s request was unfounded and aimed at prolonging the trial.
Announcing its interim order, the court accepted the prosecution’s request and adjourned the trial until 7 February 2023 to await the preparation of an additional expert’s report.
Journalists İrfan Tunççelik and Ümit Turhan Coşkun had been detained during the police intervention outside the Bakırköy Women’s Closed Prison on 10 May 2019 during the hunger strikes staged in protest of PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan’s prison conditions that began on 8 November 2018.
Ferhat Tunç’s 2 trials adjourned until January, March
The 13 hearing in the trial of the singer Ferhat Tunç on charges of “inciting the people to hatred and enmity” over his social media post which criticized the 2017 referendum was held at the Büyükçekmece 4th Criminal Court of First Instance on 26 October 2022.
None of the parties attended the hearing, during which minutes of former hearings were read due to the change of a judge.
The court ruled to await the execution of the order for Tunç’s arrest and adjourned the trial until 18 January.
The ninth hearing in a separate trial of Tunç on charges of “membership in a terrorist organization” and “organization propaganda” over his social media posts was held at the Diyarbakır 5th High Criminal Court on 25 October 2022.
None of the parties attended the hearing, during which minutes of former hearings were read due to the change of a judge.
The court ruled to await the execution of the order for the detention of Tunç and adjourned the trial until 21 March.
Trial of journalists Canan Coşkun, Barış Pehlivan adjourned until January
The first hearing in the trial of journalists Canan Coşkun and Barış Pehlivan on charges of “marking officials assigned in the fight against terrorism as targets” filed upon a complaint by Akın Gürlek, former presiding judge of the İstanbul 14th High Criminal Court was held at the İstanbul 34th High Criminal Court on 27 October 2022.
Pehlivan did not attend the hearing, while Coşkun and defendants’ lawyers were present. Pehlivan’s lawyer Hüseyin Ersöz requested the recusal of the presiding judge Zafer Taşkın. Canan Coşkun's lawyer Abbas Yalçın requested that the files be separated, as there was no connection of acts.
The prosecution requested in its opinion that the request by Barış Pehlivan's lawyer be taken up by the İstanbul 35th High Criminal Court and for the journalists’ statements to be taken by that court.
Deciding that the request for recusal should be taken up by the next higher court, the court adjourned the trial until 17 January 2023.
The indictment prepared by upon the complaint by Akın Gürlek, lists the journalists’ statements on Gürlek’s assignment to the Religious Scholars Aid and Solidarity Association (DİAYDER) as evidence of the charges against the journalists.
Trial of journalists Can Dündar, İnan Kızılkaya adjourned until March
The 20th hearing in the trial of journalists Can Dündar and İnan Kızılkaya on the charge of “insulting a public official” over a news item was held at the İstanbul 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance on 27 October 2022.
The parties and their lawyers did not attend the hearing.
The court ruled to await the execution of the order for Dündar’s arrest and adjourned the trial until 30 March 2023.
The indictment prepared by prosecutor Murat İnam upon a complaint by Bekir Altun, former judge of the İstanbul 1st Criminal Court of Peace, lists the news item titled “Saray rejiminin en kullanışlı hakimi” (“The most useful judge of the palace regime”) that appeared in the 22 June 2016 issue of the Özgür Gündem newspaper, for which Can Dündar was serving as editor-in-chief on watch at the time, as evidence of the charges against Dündar and Kızılkaya.
Journalist İsmail Saymaz’s trial adjourned until January
The fifth hearing in the trial of journalist İsmail Saymaz on charges of “obtaining and disseminating personal data” over a news item was held at the Niğde 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance on 25 October 2022.
The hearing was held summarily, as the judge was on leave, and the case was adjourned until 10 January 2023.
In the news item published on 10 March 2022, Saymaz had claimed that a prosecutor had stormed a private hospital in Kayseri after applying for in vitro fertilization treatment.
Journalist Doğan Akın acquitted
The third hearing in the trial of journalist Doğan Akın on charges of “insult” and “defamation” upon a complaint by Mustafa Doğan İnal, former lawyer of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, was held at the İstanbul 39th Criminal Court of First Instance on 27 October 2022.
Doğan Akın and his lawyer Aslı Kazan attended the hearing. The prosecutor requested Akın’s acquittal.
The court ruled that Doğan Akın had not committed the impugned crimes and acquitted Akın.
Journalist Metin Yoksu’s trial adjourned until April
The first hearing in the trial of journalist Metin Yoksu on charges of “organization propaganda” over a news photo was held at the İstanbul 23rd High Criminal Court on 26 October 2022.
Yoksu and his lawyer Ali Deniz Ceylan attended the hearing.
Stating that he had provided nearly 30 photographs related to the news item in question to media organizations and only one of them had been made subject to the charge, Yoksu ended his defense statement saying “I do not carry out propaganda for institutions and organizations. My aim is peace journalism.”
Delivering their opinion as to the accusations, the prosecutor requested sentencing for Yoksu for the impugned crime. Yoksu and his lawyer requested additional time to deliver a statement against the opinion as to the accusations.
Accepting their request, the court adjourned the trial until 18 April 2023.
Yoksu is on trial due to a photo taken at the funeral in İstanbul of people who were killed in the suicide bombing carried out by ISIS in Suruç, Şanlıurfa.
Trial of journalists Aziz Oruç and Ersin Çaksu adjourned until March
The ninth hearing in the trial of journalists Aziz Oruç and Ersin Çaksu on charges of “publicly denigrating the Turkish nation, the state of the Republic of Turkey, the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, the government of the Republic of Turkey and the judicial organs of the state” over their news items and columns was held at the İstanbul 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance on 27 October 2022.
The court ruled to await the execution of the order for Çaksu’s arrest and adjourned the trial until 30 March 2023.
The indictment lists their news items and columns published in the Özgürlükçü Demokrasinewspaper, which was shut down by statutory decree, from 21 October- 1 November 2016 as evidence of the charges against the journalists. Journalist Aziz Oruç has been imprisoned pending trial since 16 June 2022 due to another case.
Journalist Sibel Hürtaş’s trial adjourned until May 2023
The third hearing in the trial of journalist Sibel Hürtaş, who was detained while she was covering a protest in Ankara against the legislation allowing for multiple bar associations on 3 July 2020, on charges of “prevention of duty” was held at the Ankara 37th Criminal Court of First Instance on 27 October 2022.
Members of the press who wanted to follow the hearing, at which Sibel Hürtaş and her lawyer attended, were not allowed into the courthouse.
The court ruled the police officers who filed a complaint against Hürtaş to be brought in by force and adjourned the trial until 30 March 2023.
Journalist Cem Bahtiyar’s trial adjourned
The sixth hearing in the trial of journalist Cem Bahtiyar on charges of “organization propaganda” over his social media posts was held at the Balıkesir 3rd High Criminal Court on 27 October 2022.
The hearing which Bahtiyar’s lawyers excused themselves from attending was held summarily and the trial was adjourned to a later date.
At least 76 journalists and media workers in prison
With nine journalists being imprisoned pending trial on 29 October, there are now at least 76 journalists and media employees who are in prison either pending trial or serving sentence in Turkey as of 31 October 2022.
The full list can be accessed here.