Documentary filmmaker Sibel Tekin imprisoned pending trial; journalist Sinan Aygül released after imprisoned under “disinformation” law; RTÜK issues penalties to Halk TV, Tele 1 and Fox TV; Sedef Kabaş ordered to pay compensation
Documentary filmmaker Sibel Tekin placed in pre-trial detention for “membership in a terrorist organization”
Documentary filmmaker and director Sibel Tekin was imprisoned pending trial on charges of “membership in a terrorist organization” in the evening on 17 December 2022.
Sibel Tekin's lawyer Mehtap Sakinci said “The prison administration did not even know which wing to place my client in. Because no terrorist organizations were listed in her file. They told her ‘Pick where we should put you because no organization is listed for you’.” Lawyer Sakinci said Tekin was placed in the same prison wing as Turkish Medical Association Chair Şebnem Korur Fincancı.
Tekin was arrested during a raid on her home on 16 December 2022 as part of an investigation carried out by the Ankara Chief Prosecutor’s Office and her two computers, many hard disks containing work on documentaries and some books were confiscated.
Tekin makes documentaries from her own records of many social events and demonstrations, including the Tekel Strike, Gezi protests and the 10 October bomb attack.
Journalist Sinan Aygül released after being imprisoned under “disinformation” law
Bitlis Journalists’ Association Chair Sinan Aygül who was imprisoned pending trial on 14 December 2022 on charges of “publicly disseminating misleading information over his social media posts was released on 22 December 2022.
Aygül had become the first journalist to be imprisoned under the “disinformation” law when he was placed in pre-trial detention on 14 December over his Twitter posts on allegations of child abuse in the Tatvan district in Bitlis.
Journalist Hayri Demir given prison term for "terrorism propaganda"
The 15th 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 21 December 2022.
Demir’s lawyer Nuray Özdoğan attended the hearing, which P24 monitored. The hearing, which Demir did not attend, was observed by many people, including representatives of the Journalists Union of Turkey (TGS), DİSK Basın-İş labour union and Amnesty International.
Demir was sentenced to imprisonment of 1 year 21 months and 22 days for “terrorism propaganda” over a song and a documentary he had shared on his social media account.
The court ruled to acquit Demir of “membership in a terrorist organization” due to the lack of adequate and credible evidence and lifted the international travel ban imposed on him.
Journalist Sezgin Kartal acquitted of “insult”
Journalist Sezgin Kartal was acquitted of “insult” in the hearing held at the İstanbul 24th Criminal Court of First Instance on 20 December.
Kartal was tried over his social media post criticizing a column penned by Türkiye daily columnist Fuat Uğur about killing of Deniz Poyraz in an armed attack launched on pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party's (HDP) İzmir office.
Journalist Sedef Kabaş ordered to pay compensation for “insulting the president”
At the 21 December 2022 hearing of her trial on charges of “insulting the president” over her statements on a TV program she appeared on in January, journalist Sedef Kabaş was ordered to pay compensation of TL 35,000 by the İstanbul 41st Civil Court of First Instance.
The court also ordered the ABC Radyo Televizyon ve Dijital Yayınclık A.Ş. company to pay compensation of TL 25,000 plus legal interest to the plaintiff.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s lawyers Ömer Faruk Karagüzel and Ferah Yıldız had filed a complaint with the İstanbul Civil Court of First Instance on duty. The complaint had claimed that Sedef Kabaş’s statements on the TV program constituted a grave insult against the honour, dignity and standing of President Erdoğan.
In the penal case filed against her for the same statements, Kabaş was sentenced to 2 year and 4 months of imprisonment for “insulting the president.”
Journalist Onur Öncü acquitted once more of “insulting a public official”
The first hearing in the trial of journalist Onur Öncü on charges of “insulting a public official” over the TV program titled “Ülkenin başına Hortum Süleyman kesilmek isteyen bir İçişleri Bakanı var!” concerning the Minister of the Interior Süleyman Soylu that was aired on Özgürüz’s YouTube channel on 3 May 2021 was held at the Küçükçekmece 22ndCriminal Court of First Instance on 19 December 2022.
The prosecutor for the hearing presented their final opinion at the hearing which Öncü and his lawyer attended and requested Öncü's acquittal as elements of the impugned crime did not exist.
The court acquitted Öncü.
The Küçükçekmece 22nd Criminal Court of First Instance originally delivered its verdict in the case filed with the simple trial procedure on 26 July 2022, ruling that the elements of the impugned crime attributed to Öncü did not exist. Soylu's lawyers, however, objected to the verdict, paving the way for the retrial.
RTÜK fines Halk TV, Tele 1 and Fox TV
İlhan Taşçı, CHP member of the Supreme Board of Radio and Television (RTÜK) has announced that the board has issued penalties to three television channels.
RTÜK has issued three fines for the Medya Mahallesi program aired on Halk TV. The program will not be aired for three times and a fine of 3 percent of revenue will apply due to “terrorism being praised through facial expressions” during the broadcast. RTÜK has also issued two separate fines of 3 percent of revenue to two different broadcasts of the program on separate dates.
RTÜK has issued a 3 percent administrative fine to Tele 1 due to speakers Prof. Dr. Emre Kongar and Merdan Yanardağ describing the imprisonment sentence against Mayor of Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality Ekrem İmamoğlu as “a coup against the will of the people” and fined the channel an addition 3 per cent of revenue for the Açıkça programme.
RTÜK also issued a 3 percent administrative fine by majority vote to Fox TV over guest Workers’ Party of Turkey (TİP) MP Sera Kadıgil criticizing President Erdoğan’s statements about the economy by saying “he would be ashamed to speak like this if he went to the market for just one day” on the İlker Karagöz İle Çalar Saat program.
Compensation case filed against columnist Bülent Şık
The SBS Bilimsel Bio Çözümler company has filed a damages case for TL 101 with the İstanbul Anadolu Civil Court of First Instance against academic and columnist Bülent Şık for criticizing the products featured on the Gıda Dedektifi website on the bianet and Gerçek Gündem news websites.
Şık’s lawyer has requested the court of appeals to rule for non-competence.
Journalist İsmail Cengiz Mumcu arrested in home raid
Journalist İsmail Cengiz Mumcu was arrested in a raid on his home in Tuzluçayır, Ankara on 21 December 2022 as part of an investigation launched by the Ankara Chief Prosecutor’s Office.
Mumcu and other detainees were taken to the Ankara Directorate of Security.
Camera operator Mehmet Zeki who recorded the moment the police assaulting former HDP MP Ferhat Encü detained
Relatives of ill prisoners and prisoners whose sentences were prolonged staged a demonstration in the Kadıköy district in İstanbul on 18 December 2022. A police officer slapped former HDP MP and party’s current İstanbul Province Co-Chair Ferhat Encü during the demonstration. The moment the police officer slapped Encü was captured on camera by Artı TV cameraman Mehmet Zeki.
Journalist Meral Danyıldız said “They have detained Zeki because he recorded images. They also assaulted Artı TV reporter Umut Taştan. Umut fell on the ground. He’s gone to the hospital now. He’ll get an assault report. They won’t release Zeki. Despite us insisting, the police won’t let Zeki go.”
The İstanbul Governor’s Office announced 70 people were detained at the demonstration.
Journalist Fatih Yaşlı taken off intercity coach and briefly detained
Academic and Sol newspaper contributor Fatih Yaşlı was taken off a coach at the Ankara Intercity Coach Station and was detained over a complaint and the subsequent investigation file prepared by the directorate of cybercrimes.
The investigation file lists Yaşlı’s social media posts as evidence. Yaşlı, who is charged with “denigrating the state of the Republic of Turkey,” “insulting leading state figures” and “inciting the people to hatred and enmity” was released after providing a statement.
Appellate court demands more severe punishment for journalist Hakkı Boltan
The Diyarbakır 12th Criminal Court of First Instance, acting as the appellate court, has requested that the sentencing for journalist Hakkı Boltan for insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and then Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu to be raised to the upper limit.
Boltan had been sentenced to 1 year 2 months and 17 days of imprisonment for “insulting the president” and 10 months of imprisonment for “insulting a public official due to his/her duty” concerning Davutoğlu, for his statements regarding the death of Azadiye Welat newspaper managing editor Rohat Aktaş in a basement where he was trapped during the curfew declared in Cizre in 2015.
The investigation has stemmed from Boltan’s statement: "Cizre'de büyük bir vahşet gerçekleşti, bütün dünyanın gözü önünde insanlık katledildi. Devlet güçleri, Cumhurbaşkanı Recep Tayyip Erdoğan ve Başbakan Ahmet Davutoğlu'nun talimatıyla temizlik adı altında kirli bir katliam gerçekleştirilmektedir" (“Terrible violence has taken place in Cizre, humanity was massacred where all the world could see. State forces are carrying out a dirty massacre under the name of sweeping under orders from President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu.”)
Retrial of journalist Ramazan Akoğul adjourned
The 14th hearing in the trial of journalist Ramazan Akoğul on charges of “membership in a terrorist organization” was held in Diyarbakır on 22 December 2022.
The court has ruled to await the response to writ issued to the prosecutor’s office for a re-evaluation of a decision not to prosecute in a separate case concerning Akoğul.
The trial was adjourned until 2 February 2022.
A more detailed report from the hearing can be accessed here.
Tele 1 cameraman Furkan Durmaz attacked during a street interview
Reporter Hude Gurbüz and cameraman Furkan Durmaz of the Tele 1 YouTube team carried out interviews with citizens in the street in the Esenler district in İstanbul on the imprisonment sentence for İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu.
Upon Gürbüz asking about President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan using the word “sürtük” (“tramp”) and “çürük” (“rotten”) a group attacked the journalists, kicked and punched them.
Tele 1 has announced that they would be filing a criminal complaint against the attackers.
Journalist Ceylan Şahin taken back to prison without treatment for refusing treatment in handcuffs
According to the weekly report of the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey, journalist Ceylan Şahin who is imprisoned pending trial in the Ankara Sincan Women’s Prison was taken back to prison from hospital without receiving medical attention because she refused treatment in handcuffs.
ETHA’s Twitter account shut down
Etkin News Agency’s (ETHA) Twitter account was shut down by court order on 22 December 2022.
In a statement, ETHA said that as they had not been notified of the order, their right to appeal had been violated.
The agency’s Twitter account was previously shut down in court order in May.
ETHA will continue posting on its new @ETHAEtkinhaber account.
Şebnem Korur Fincancı’s trial adjourned until 29 December
The first hearing in the trial of Turkish Medical Association Central Council President Prof. Dr. Şebnem Korur Fincancı on charges of “terrorism propaganda” was held at the İstanbul 24th High Criminal Court on 23 December 2022.
Prof. Dr. Şebnem Korur Fincancı, who is in pre-trial detention, and her lawyers attended the hearing, which P24 monitored.
The court turned down the Ministry of National Defense’s lawyer’s demand to join the case as co-plaintiff.
The court ruled to keep Prof. Dr. Korur Fincancı in pre-trial detention and adjourned the trial until Thursday, 29 December 2022. Korur Fincancı will be held in Bakırköy Prison during this time.
The prosecutor’s office had launched an investigation into Korur Fincancı on charges of “terrorism propaganda” and “denigrating the state of the Republic of Turkey, the institutions and organs of state” on 20 October 2022 over her statements regarding images which allegedly show the use of chemical weapons abroad by the Turkish Armed Forces. On 27 October 2022, Korur Fincancı was arrested by the Ankara 3rd Criminal Court of Peace on charges of “terrorism propaganda” and sent to the Sincan Closed Women’s Prison.
A more detailed report from the hearing can be accessed here.
Pop-star Gülşen’s trial adjourned until March
The second hearing in the trial of pop-star Gülşen Bayraktar Çolakoğlu on charges of “inciting the people to hatred and enmity” was held at the İstanbul 11th Criminal Court of First Instance on 21 December 2022.
Gülşen’s lawyers, some plaintiffs and their lawyers attended the hearing, which P24 monitored. Gülşen did not attend the hearing.
Attorney Emek Emre demanded the return of the bail Gülşen deposited with the court for the lifting of the international travel ban on her.
Gülşen’s lawyer Orhan Erol Müezzinoğlu said “My client has expressed an opinion upon being asked a question. The matter is simply a conversation between her and members of her band. The complainants are artificial victims created by the media.”
Lawyer Esin İzel Uysal who joined the hearing on behalf of the We Will Stop Femicides Platform said “We are of the opinion that the verdict of this case will set a positive or negative example to members of the public” and requested joining the case on the side of the defendant as an intervening party.
Lawyer Seçkin Koç of the plaintiff Önder İmam Hatip Graduates Association requested joining the case as co-plaintiff. Koç said “The defendant claims she is a singer. But she is more in the news for her clothing and support for unnatural sexual orientations” and requested sentencing for Gülşen.
The prosecutor requested the admittance of “requests to join the case by victims given the possibility of suffering harm from the crime” and the denial of requests to join on behalf of the defendant and the return of the bail.
The court ruled to add the Önder İmam Hatip Graduates Association to the case as a co-plaintiff and denied the request to intervene on behalf of the defendant and the return of the bail. Deciding to convey the case file to the prosecutor’s office for the preparation of the opinion, the court adjourned the trial until 1 March 2023.
Trial of journalist Ertuğrul Mavioğlu, filmmaker Çayan Demirel adjourned until March
The third hearing in the retrial of the Bakur Documentary Film case in which journalist Ertuğrul Mavioğlu and director Çayan Demirel are being tried on charges of “terrorism propaganda” was held at the Batman 2nd High Criminal Court on 22 December 2022.
The court ruled to await the outcome of the appeals examination by the 3rd Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Appeals of another trial concerning Mavioğlu on charges of “terrorism propaganda” and to uphold the ban on Mavioğlu travelling abroad and adjourned the trial until March 2023.
Trial of journalists Osman Akın, Veysi Sarısözen adjourned until March
The 12th hearing in the trial of Yeni Yaşam newspaper managing editor Osman Akın and contributor Veysi Sarısözen on charges of “terrorism propaganda” over the news items and articles that were published in the newspaper was held at the İstanbul 13th High Criminal Court on 21 December 2022.
Osman Akın’s lawyer attended the hearing.
The court ruled to await the execution of the order for Veysi Sarısözen’s arrest and the response to the letter rogatory, and adjourned the trial until 23 March 2023.
Journalist Görkem Kınacı’s trial adjourned until April
The 22 December 2022 hearing in the trial of Evrensel newspaper managing editor Görkem Kınacı on charges of “inciting the people to hatred and enmity” was held at the Bakırköy 21st Criminal Court of First Instance.
Kınacı and his lawyer Devrim Avcı attended the hearing.
Kınacı denied the charges in his defense and stated that in his reporting he had featured statements by the relatives of the deceased and the injured person and what was conveyed by HDP MP for Kocaeli Faruk Gergerlioğlu who made these statements public, as well as statements issued by human rights organizations such as the Human Rights Association and the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey.
The court ruled to issue a writ to the Sakarya 1st High Criminal Court to request the case file for the murder trial in question, to issue a writ to Evrensel newspaper to identify whether the news in question appeared in the print edition, and adjourned the trial until 4 April 2023.
The court case is based on the news item titled “Racist attack in Sakarya: father killed, son in treatment” regarding the attack on two citizens in Sakarya for speaking in Kurdish. Kadir Sakçı was killed in the attack and his son B.S. received medical treatment for injuries.
Özgürlükçü Demokrasi trial adjourned until March
The sixth hearing in the retrial of the court case against the shuttered Özgürlükçü Demokrasi newspaper’s former employees, following the overturning of the prison sentences by the appellate court, was held at the İstanbul 23rd High Criminal Court on 21 December 2022.
P24 monitored the hearing in which Reyhan Hacıoğlu, Hicran Urun, İshak Yasul and Mehmet Ali Çelebi and their lawyers Sercan Korkmaz, Özcan Kılıç ve Meral Hanbayat were present.
Journalists’ lawyers Özcan Kılıç and Sercan Korkmaz stated that the judicial control measures on their clients had become a form of punishment and requested them to be lifted.
The court ruled to keep the international travel ban on the defendants and to consult an expert’s report on whether the newspaper supports “terrorism” activities.
The trial was adjourned until 22 March 2023.
Asked about the court’s decision to consult an expert’s report after the hearing, lawyer Özcan Kılıç said “Who can decide whether a newspaper practices journalism or not? Only journalists may. What sort of a panel of experts will they put together? How will the expert know why this news item was prepared? How can an expert prove that these news items were prepared with an organization connection? The police and the prosecution have been unable to prove this point, so please someone tell me, who’s to do it?”
Journalist Gençağa Karafazlı’s trial adjourned until March
The third hearing in the trial of Modern Journalists Association (ÇGD) Rize Branch Chair Gençağa Karafazlı on charges of “insult” over his reporting of allegations of harassment and mobbing of students at Recep Tayyip Erdoğan University was held at the Rize 4th Criminal Court of First Instance on 20 December 2022.
The hearing was attended by representatives of political parties, the ÇGD Rize Branch and democratic mass organizations as well as Karafazlı.
At the hearing, Karafazlı said “The news item I published is true, timely and has public merit, therefore it is not I who should be on trial here today but the lecturer who harassed and mobbed students. I request my acquittal.”
The trial was adjourned until 1 March 2023.
Trial of singer Ferhat Tunç adjourned until April
The eight hearing in the trial of singer Ferhat Tunç on charges of “terrorism propaganda” was held at the İstanbul 37th High Criminal Court on 23 December 2022.
Neither the defendant nor his lawyer attended the hearing.
The court adjourned the trial until 7 April 2023.
At least 75 journalists and media workers in prison
Following the release of journalist Sinan Aygül who was imprisoned on 14 December under the “disinformation” law over his social posts and released on 22 December, there are now at least 75 journalists and media employees who are in prison either pending trial or serving sentence in Turkey as of 26 December 2022.
The full list can be accessed here.