Journalists targeted: At least 14 detentions, 4 arrests, 46 years of prison sentence
ISTANBUL – Media workers have been targets in November. At least 14 journalists were detained and four of them were arrested. Thirteen of the journalists who were brought to the judges have been sentenced to 46 and a half years of imprisonment in total. We recorded what journalists have gone through in November, including attacks they were exposed to.
Reported by Hasan Özhan Ünal, translated by Evrim Şaşmaz
The press itself and press workers were the targets of direct and indirect violation of rights in November too.
According to the reports in our newspaper and other media outlets, journalists filled the corridors of the courthouse in the month of November, as was the case in the previous two months.
Tens of media members were brought to the judges whilst 13 journalists were sentenced to a total of 46 years, 6 months and 5 days of imprisonment.
Among the 14 journalists who were detained in November, four of them (Ahmet Altan, Ruken Demir, Melike Aydın and Soner Karabulut) have been arrested.
In addition to these acts of oppression, many journalists are targeted via legal cases and hearings.
Furthermore, a local newspaper was targeted with gun attack and two press members were physically attacked.
On another note, Vice President Fuat Oktay announced that the press membership cards of 685 journalists have been cancelled due to the allegation of “being identified, in contact or affiliated with structures that pose a threat to national security” after 15 July coup attempt.
The only affirmative development in November has been the release of three journalists.
Detentions, arrests and releases
- Journalists Ahmet Altan and Nazlı Ilıcak who received the decisions of release from the case that was relaunched, were released from the prison.
- Mesopotamia News Agency reporter Ruken Demir and JinNews reporter Melike Aydın were detained during a raid in İzmir.
- JinNews reporter Kibriye Evren who had been under trial during imprisonment for more than a year, was released from the prison after the court decision.
- Journalist Ahmet Altan who had been released after the court decision in a case that was relaunched, was issued with a new court warrant. After the issued warrant, he was arrested in his home in İstanbul.
- One week after his release, the journalist Ahmet Altan was rearrested.
- Journalists Canan Coşkun and Tuğba Demir as well as documentarist Kazım Kızıl, who were following up the assembly research commission that investigates Rabia Naz’s suspicious death were detained in Eynesil, Giresun. All three were released on bail.
- Mesopotamia News Agency reporter Ömer Akın was detained in Mardin Derik while on duty. Akın was released after giving his statement to the prosecution office.
- Mesopotamia News Agency reporter Ruken Demir and JinNews reporter Melike Aydın who were detained in İzmir, were arrested based on the allegations of ‘conducting actions in the name of an [terrorist] organization’
- Mesopotamia News Agency reporter Berivan Altan has been detained after a raid to her home in Ankara.
- Hacı Yusuf Topaloğlu, the reporter of DİHA (Dicle News Agency) that was shut down with a decree law, was detained after a raid to her home in Kahta, Adıyaman.
- The court of appeal decided for the release of the imprisoned journalist İdris Sayılğan. After the decision, Sayılğan was freed from the prison where he was kept for 1137 days.
- Mesopotamia News Agency reporters Sadık Topaloğlu and Sadiye Eser were detained in İstanbul.
- Mesopotamia News Agency reporter Mehmet Fırat Öksüz was detained in Mersin police headquarters when he went there to give his statement. After his statements, Öksüz was released.
- Gazete Yolculuk reporter Buse Söğütlü was detained in İstanbul with the alleged reason of missing statement. Söğütlü had been released after two days of detention.
- Gazete Fersude reporter Soner Karabulut who went to İstanbul Justice Palace to give his statement for an ongoing investigation, was first detained and then arrested.
Imprisonment and fine sentences
- Among the journalists who had been under trial again after the reversal of life-long imprisonment sentence, Mehmet Altan received an acquittal while Ahmet Altan and Nazlı Ilıcak were sentenced to a total of 19 years and 4 months with the allegation of ‘helping the organization’.
- The journalist Uğur Yilmaz was sentenced to 6 years, 10 months and 15 days of imprisonment with the allegation of ‘[terrorist] member organization’.
- The journalist Berzan Güneş was sentenced to 3 years, 5 months and 15 days of imprisonment with the allegation of ‘making propaganda of an [terrorist] organization’.
- The journalist Atakan Sönmez was sentenced to 10 months of imprisonment based on the news published on the website of Cumhuriyet daily news.
- Nizamettin Yılmaz, the worker of Azadiya Welat news that was shut off with a decree law, was sentenced to 3 years, 1 month and 15 days in the case he was judged with the allegation of ‘making propaganda of an [terrorist] organization’.
- Each of the four journalists who had been judged based on the news and opinion pieces published in Özgürlükçü Demokrasi that was shut off, received 5 months of imprisonment. The court decided for the deferment of the announcement of the verdict for İshak Yasul, Kenan Kırkaya and Özgür Paksoy, while postponing the sentence for Selman Keleş.
- Mahmut Gülecan, the editor in chief of Özgür Halk magazine, was sentenced to 3 years and 9 months of imprisonment.
Hearings and trials
- Mesopotamia News Agency reporter Ergin Çağlar whose journalism activities were considered as crime, was sued with the allegation of ‘making propaganda of an [terrorist] organization’.
- Taylan Öztaş, Tunahan Turhan, Berfin Aslan and Mehmet Şahin who were following up the protests against the ongoing trustee appointments in Kadıköy, İstanbul, were sued.
- Fatih Polat, the executive editor of Evrensel News, was acquitted from the case in which he had been prosecuted with the allegation of ‘insulting the president’.
- Hakkı Boltan, the spokesperson of the Free Journalists Initiative (Özgür Gazeteciler İnisiyatifi) received a decision of forceful attendance in the first hearing of the case in which he is being prosecuted with the allegation of ‘insulting the president’.
- Mesopotamia News Agency reporter Ahmet Kanbal who prepared news about the new hirings in Mardin Municipality where a trustee was recently appointed, received two separate hearings.
- Sentenced to eight years and three months of imprisonment, İdris Sayılğan, the reporter of DİHA (Dicle News Agency) that was shut down with a decree law, has been further issued another legal case.
- Kemal Sancılı and İnan Kızılkaya, respectively the publisher and the ex-editor-in-chief from Özgür Gündem News that was shut down, were asked to be sentenced based on the allegation of ‘successively disseminating propaganda for a terrorist organization’ about the news published in the newspaper in 2016.
- The founder and the editor-in-chief of T24, Doğan Akın has been sued with 15 years of sentencing demand for the allegation of ‘wilful support to a [terrorist] organization despite being unrelated to the hierarchical structure in the organization’.
- The hearing for the case with which BirGün daily news workers Barış İnce, Bülent Yılmaz, Can Uğur and İbrahim Aydın have been sued with the allegation of ‘wilful support to a [terrorist] organization despite being a non-member’ based on the alibi of “Fuat Avni news” published in the newspaper during 2014-2016, was adjourned until 5 March 2020.
- In Cumhuriyet daily news case which has been relaunched after the reversal decision of the supreme court, the panel of judges accepted the reversal only for Kadri Gürsel while resisted for the original decision about the other defendants.
- Mesopotamia News Agency reporters Ahmet Kanbal and Mehmet Şah Oruç, JinNews reporter Rojda Aydın, as well as journalists Nurcan Yalçın and Halime Parlak who had been detained during the protests against the trustee appointment to Mardin Municipality and released a week later, were given the decision of non-prosecution.
- Cumhuriyet daily news reporter Zehra Özdilek has been issued a sentence demand from one to three years with the allegation of ‘targeting people who took part in anti-terror actions’.
- General Directorate of Security announced that they submitted an indictment about the journalist Tolga Şardan whose pieces were published in T24.
Censorship, repression and assaults
- The writer of Korkusuz newspaper, Ahmet Takan was attacked in front of his home in Dikmen, Ankara.
- Volkan newspaper which conducts local publishing in Keşan, Edirne was assaulted through an armed attack.
- The owner of the local newspaper Iğdır Haber, Metin Işık who criticized MHP MP Yaşar Karadağ, was assaulted and threatened by armed nationalists.
- The family house of Medine Gümüş, the executive publisher of Radyo Dünya which was shut down with a decree law, was raided. Gümüş, who was issued with an arrest decision with the allegation of ‘making propaganda of an [terrorist] organization’ could not be detained since she went abroad.