Prosecutor demands sentence for Canan Coşkun and Barış Pehlivan; İsmail Arı faces investigation upon complaint filed by Turkish Red Crescent; Banu Acun arrested on TCK 301 allegation; journalist Muhammed Yavaş assaulted by head of local Grey Wolves branch
İsmail Arı faces investigation upon complaint filed by Turkish Red Crescent
The press offenses investigation bureau under the İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office launched an investigation against BirGün reporter İsmail Arı on 10 May 2023 on the allegation of “spreading false information” upon a complaint filed by the Turkish Red Crescent.
A 21 March report by Arı about corruption allegations concerning the Turkish Red Crescent was cited as the grounds for the accusation. The report was about claims that supermarket chain Migros had detected arsenic in mineral water bottled and sold by the Turkish Red Crescent in 2019.
Journalist Banu Acun arrested on TCK 301 allegation
Journalist Banu Acun was taken into custody on 7 May 2023 upon landing in İstanbul’s Sabiha Gökçen Airport for allegedly “publicly denigrating the Turkish nation, the State of the Turkish Republic and its organs and institutions.”
Acun, who was detained based on a warrant issued by the Ankara 4th Criminal Judgeship of Peace, was released later that day after her statement was taken.
Journalist Ertan Çıta arrested in house raid
Yeni Demokrasi reporter Ertan Çıta was taken under arrest in a dawn raid on his home in Tunceli province on 6 May 2023. The police also raided the newspaper’s office as part of the operation and confiscated numerous newspaper issues and banners.
Journalist Caner Aktan arrested along with 32 others
Yeni Dersim newspaper concessionaire Caner Aktan was arrested along with 32 other individuals as part of an operation carried out across 19 provinces within the scope of an investigation launched by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office against the hacker group RedHack. Aktan was taken into custody in Tunceli province. The allegations against Aktan have not yet been disclosed.
Investigation against journalist Gülşen Koçuk dismissed
An investigation launched against JinNews editor Gülşen Koçuk on the allegation of “membership in a terrorist organization” was dismissed by the public prosecutor on 8 May 2023. Koçuk was among 20 journalists taken into custody in Diyarbakır on 8 June 2022.
Journalist Şule Aydın questioned on “insulting the president” allegation
Journalist Şule Aydın announced that she was summoned to the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office on 10 May 2023 to give her statement as part of an investigation on the allegation of “insulting the president.” Aydın was released after her statement was taken.
Prosecutor demands sentence for Canan Coşkun and Barış Pehlivan
The third hearing in the trial against journalists Canan Coşkun and Barış Pehlivan on charges of “marking persons assigned with the fight against terrorsim as a target” was held at the İstanbul 34th High Criminal Court on 9 May 2023. The case was filed upon a complaint by Akın Gürlek, the former presiding judge of the İstanbul 14th High Criminal Court.
P24 monitored the hearing. Coşkun and lawyers representing the journalists and Gürlek were present in the courtroom while Pehlivan did not attend.
Reiterating their final opinion submitted to the court on 3 May 2023, the prosecutor argued that Coşkun and Pehlivan had “crossed the boundaries of freedom of expression and expressing opinions for news reporting purposes” and requested that the court sentence both journalists as charged.
Lawyers representing Pehlivan and Coşkun requested a continuance to prepare their statements in response to the prosecutor’s final opinion. Granting the lawyers a continuance, the court set 13 June 2023 as the date for the next hearing.
Prosecutor demands sentence for journalist İdris Yayla
The 13th hearing in a case in which Jiyan Haber Concessionaire İdris Yayla is among 28 defendants charged with “violating the Law on Assemblies and Demonstrations” was held at the Batman 1st Criminal Court of First Instance on 9 May 2023. Yayla is on trial for covering a demonstration organized in Batman province on 19 September 2016 against the appointment of trustees by the government to replace the elected mayors in the region.
None of the defendants attended the hearing. Some of the lawyers representing the defendants were in attendance.
During the hearing, the prosecutor submitted their final opinion in writing to the court, demanding that 25 defendants be sentenced as charged and the files against three defendants who currently face arrest warrants as part of the case be split as they have yet to appear before the court to make their statements.
The defendants’ lawyers requested additional time to prepare their statements in response to the prosecutor’s final opinion.
Issuing an interim ruling, the court decided to split the files against three defendants who face arrest warrants and adjourned the case until 22 June 2023, granting the rest of the defendants and their lawyers time to prepare their final defense statements.
Journalist Muhammed Yavaş assaulted by local Grey Wolves chair
Journalist Muhammed Yavaş was assaulted by local Grey Wolves Chair Hasan Dinç for reporting about banners hung by the ultranationalist youth organization’s local branch in the Çan district of Çanakkale province.
Recounting the attack on his Twitter account on 10 May, Yavaş wrote: “A banner displaying Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and Selahattin Demirtaş and Meral Akşener and Figen Yüksekdağ side by side was hung on the Çanakkale Grey Wolves building. I reported about this banner with the headline ‘Reaction to banner.’ The incident happened following [my report].”
ETHA reporter Pınar Gayıp questioned by prosecutor as part of investigation against ESP
Etkin News Agency (ETHA) reporter Pınar Gayıp was questioned by a public prosecutor on 12 May 2023 within the scope of an investigation launched in Eskişehir province against the Socialist Party of the Oppressed (ESP).
After taking her statement, the prosecutor referred Gayıp to a court, which released the journalist under judicial control measures in the form of a ban on traveling abroad and a signature obligation.
A total of 23 people were arrested as part of police raids carried out across eight provinces on 30 April. Among them, seven people were jailed pending trial and seven others were placed under house arrest.
Journalist Merve Dişli called in for questioning for allegedly “insulting the president”
Kocaeli Barış newspaper reporter Merve Dişli announced on her social media account on 10 May that she was called in for questioning on the allegation of “insulting the president” on account of her social media posts.
Journalist Merdan Yanardağ faces investigation over “Kılıçdaroğlu assassination” claims
An ex-officio investigation was launched against Tele 1 TV Chief Editor Merdan Yanardağ on account of his recent social media post in which he claimed that a group had entered Turkey from Georgia to assassinate presidential candidate and main opposition CHP Chairperson Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu.
Yanardağ was summoned to the public prosecutor’s office on 12 May to give his statement on the allegation of “publicly disseminating misleading information.”
Case filed against Cumhuriyet editors upon Minister Varank’s complaint begins
The first hearing in a case filed by Minister of Industry and Technology Mustafa Varank against Cumhuriyet Editor-in-Chief Mustafa Büyüksipahi and Responsible Editor Mustafa Birol Güger, which was originally scheduled for 11 May, could not be heard due to the court’s workload. The İstanbul 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance adjourned the case until 7 November 2023.
The accusation stems from a report by journalist İsmail Arı, originally published in BirGün daily and headlined “Deniz manzaralı araziyi Varank’ın ‘kuzeni’ kaptı!” (Varank’s “cousin” gets plot with sea view).Upon complaints by Varank, separate cases have been filed against Arı and Doğan Akın, the editor-in-chief of T24 news portal, for republishing Arı’s report.
Varank has also filed a separate compensation case against BirGün.
Trial against journalist Öznur Değer begins, police officers removed from courtroom
A case in which jailed journalist Öznur Değer and 24 others are charged with “violating the Law on Meetings and Demonstrations” and “resisting law enforcement to prevent the performance of their duty” got underway on 8 May 2023 at the Ankara 18th Criminal Court of First Instance.
Değer, who has been jailed pending trial along with nine other journalists since October 2022 as part of a separate case, was brought to the courthouse by gendarmerie officers. P24 monitored the hearing. Human Rights Foundation (İHD) Ankara branch executives were also among the many spectators observing the hearing.
Defense lawyers told the court that their clients had been assaulted by the police and that they could testify as witnesses during the next hearing, asking the court to remove the police officers from the courtroom. The court accepted the request and two police officers who were in the courtroom were ordered to leave.
In her defense statement, Değer explained that she covered the demonstration cited as the grounds for the accusations as a journalist. “I should be here not as a defendant but as a witness. In addition to witnessing the use of force by the police that amounted to torture, I would like to also testify as a victim of this [police brutality],” Değer said, requesting her acquittal.
Ruling to inquire of the Ankara Police Department about whether a warning had been made by the police before detaining the demonstrators, the court adjourned the case until 10 July 2023.
For further information, see our report.
Case against three journalists merged with three separate case files
The sixth hearing in journalists Can Bursalı, Barış Terkoğlu and Independent Turkish Editor-in-Chief Nevzat Çiçek’s trial on chargess of “insult” and “libel” was held at the İstanbul 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance on 11 May 2023. The case was launched upon a complaint filed by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s former lawyer Mustafa Doğan İnal.
Bursalı, Terkoğlu and Çiçek did not attend the hearing. They were represented in the court by their lawyers.
The presiding judge announced during the hearing that the court had decided to merge three other case files submitted by the İstanbul 49th, 46th and 14th criminal courts of first instance with the ongoing case.
Ruling to wait for the delivery of requested documents, the court adjourned the case until 2 November 2023.
In his book “Metastaz 2: Cendere,” co-authored with Barış Pehlivan, Terkoğlu had written of claims that Erdoğan’s former lawyer İnal had received TL 15 million in legal representation fees from the İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality (İBB). Bursalı wrote of these claims in a report published online on Independent Turkish on 3 December 2020. The indictment argues that the allegations about İnal “harmed his honor, dignity and social reputation.”
Trial of journalist Şerife Oruç to continue in September
The 24th hearing in former Dicle News Agency (DİHA) reporter Şerife Oruç’s trial on charges of “membership in a terrorist organization” was held at the Batman 2nd High Criminal Court on 11 May 2023.
Ruling to wait for the execution of the arrest warrant for Oruç and to inquire of the Diyarbakır Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office about the outcome of the investigation against the journalist, the court adjourned the case until 19 September 2023.
“Propaganda” case against journalist Metin Yoksu postponed until next week
The third hearing in a case in which journalist Metin Yoksu is charged with “terrorism propaganda” on account of a news photo he had taken was held at the İstanbul 23rd High Criminal Court on 9 May 2023.
Neither Yoksu nor his lawyer attended the hearing.
Reiterating the final opinion submitted at the first hearing in the case, the prosecutor asked the court to sentence Yoksu as charged. The court set 15 May 2023 as the date for the next hearing.
Trial of journalists İrfan Tuncçelik and Ümit Turhan Coşkun adjourned
A case in which journalists İrfan Tuncçelik and Ümit Turhan Coşkun and 11 members of the Peace Mothers Initiative are charged with “committing crime on behalf of a terrorist organization without being its member” and “violating the Law on Assemblies and Demonstrations” resumed on 8 May 2023. This was the fifth hearing in the case, overseen by the İstanbul 23rd High Criminal Court.
P24 monitored the hearing. Some of the lawyers representing the defendants were in attendance.
The court ruled to wait for the additional expert report requested in order to determine whether the police had made an announcement to disperse the demonstrators, whether the announcement was audible, and whether the demonstrators had resisted law enforcement officers. The court adjourned the case until 13 July 2023.
Tuncçelik and Coşkun were taken into custody on 10 May 2019 as they were covering a press statement in front of the Bakırköy Women’s Prison in İstanbul concerning the hunger strikes in Turkey’s prisons.
At least 71 journalists and media workers in prison
As of 12 May 2023 there are at least 71 journalists and media workers in prison in Turkey, either in pre-trial detention or serving a sentence.
The full list can be accessed here.