January marked by both prison sentences and releases to journalists
ISTANBUL – Although three media workers have been released, tens of journalists were brought to the judges in the first month of the New Year. Six of them were sentenced to a total of 23 years, 7 months and 22 days of imprisonment. Two journalists have been sued, one detention and one arrest occurred. We recorded what journalists as targets of rights violations, have gone through in January.
Reported by Hasan Özhan Ünal, translated by Evrim Şaşmaz
The press and media workers have been the direct and indirect targets of rights violations in January 2020.
According to the reports in our newspaper and other media outlets, tens of journalists were forced to defend the non-criminality of journalism practices in courthouses.
Six journalists who were brought to the judges, were sentenced to a total of 23 years, 7 months and 22 days of imprisonment.
Two journalists were sued with the allegation of ‘making propaganda of an [terrorist] organization’.
While one journalist was detained in January 2020, another journalist had a short imprisonment because of the approval of sentence.
Beside these oppressive moves, it has been found that hundreds of media workers among whom are the journalists from Evrensel, Cumhuriyet and BirGün, had their press cards cancelled.
Furthermore, three of the imprisoned journalists had been released in January 2020.
Detentions, arrests and releases
- The journalist and writer Gülşen İşeri has been detained based on an Anonymous complaint made in 2017 about her books on gentrification and the poverty it created, when she went to the Population and Civil Registry Department in İstanbul in order to renew her passport.
- Dicla News Agency (DİHA) reporter Hacı Yusuf Topaloğlu who had been imprisoned since last December, received release decision during the first hearing on the legal case he had been trialed.
- Jin News reporter Melike Aydın has been released from İzmir Aliağa Şakran Women’s Closed Prison where she had been held since 15 November 2019.
- Cevdet Akgün, the ex-editor in chief of the local newspaper Halkın Sesi in Zonguldak has been imprisoned for five months by the final decision of the court on “insulting public officer”.
After his turning in to the prison on January 9th, the journalist Akgün has been released on January 12th.
Imprisonment and fine sentences
- Mezopotamya News Agency reporter Barış Polat, has been sentenced to 6 years and 3 months of prison in the case where he was trialed with the allegation of ‘being member of an [terrorist] organization’.
Yeni Yaşam Newspaper’s ex-editor in chief, Osman Akın, has been sentenced to 5 months of imprisonment in the case in which he was trialed for the Article 301 of the penal code.
- The imprisoned ex-editor inchief of Azadiya Welat Newspaper, İsmail Çoban has been sentenced to 7 years and 6 months based on “explicit and anonymous witness” testimony.
- Yeni Asya Newspaper’s executive editor Kazım Güleçyüz and editor in chief İbrahim Özdabak have been sentenced to 3 years, 2 months and 22 days of imprisonment in the legal case where they were trialed with the allegation of ‘making propaganda of an [terrorist] organization’ based on some pieces and news published in the newspaper as well as their social media posts.
- Nokta magazine’s ex-chief reporter İsmail Evren has been first sentenced to 6 years and 3 months and then released along with the verdict in the case where he was put on trial with the allegation of ‘being member of an [terrorist] organization’.
Hearings and trials
- Journalist Mehmet Erol was sued and requested up to 7 years of imprisonment with the allegation of ‘making propaganda of an [terrorist] organization’ based on his social media posts.
- The court of appeal confirmed 5 year and 11 months of imprisonment sentence for journalist Ahmet Altan.
- Mezopotamya News Agency reporter Arjin Dilek Öncel has been acquitted in the first hearing of the case with which she was sit in judgment.
- Nine media workers from Özgür Gündem which had been shut down with a decree law, among whom are the newspaper’s writers and editorial board have been judged in the case known as the “Main Case of Özgür Gündem”. On the 15th hearing, the prosecutor requested imprisonment for Eren Keskin, İnan Kızılkaya, Kemal Sancılı, Zana Kaya and Aslı Erdoğan.
- In the first hearing of Yeni Yaşam newspaper’s ex-editor in chief Osman Akın, wherein the journalist is accused of ‘making propaganda of an [terrorist] organization’, the prosecutor demanded punishment.
- The seven journalists who have been put on trial for sharing news about Musa Çitil, the Deputy Commander of Gendarmerie received acquittal. The courthouse announced the reason for decision by considering the posts within the frame of “informing, criticizing, interpretation and freedom of expression”. The prosecutor objected to the decision of acquittal.
- The lawsuit against Cumhuriyet Newspaper’s reporter Seyhan Avşar, with the allegations of “insulting a public officer” has been cancelled with the reason of nonclaim statute described in Press Law.
- Yeni Yaşam Newspaper’s editor in chief Aydın Keser has been sued with the allegation of ‘making propaganda of an [terrorist] organization’ based on the news titled “pınar’dan barış akmaz”.
- In the second hearing of the lawsuit in which the journalist Beritan Canözer is being put on judgment with the allegation of ‘making propaganda of an [terrorist] organization’, the prosecutor demanded punishment.
- The verdict has ben requested against Aziz Oruç, the imprisoned journalist who has been judged with the allegation of ‘making propaganda of an [terrorist] organization’.
- Mezopotamya News Agency reporters Sadiye Eser and Sadık Topaloğlu had been arrested at the beginning of the past December. The indictment against the two reporters has been accepted. The first hearing will be hold on 26 March, the journalists are being accused with the allegation of ‘being member of an [terrorist] organization’.
- The prison sentence given to the imprisoned journalist and writer Ahmet Altan about his article titled “CHP” published in Taraf newspaper based on the accusation of “ explicit insult the the memoriam of Atatürk” was deruled by the court of appeal.
- Cumhuriyet Newspaper’s ex-executive editor Can Dündar and ex- editor in chief Abbas Yalçın had been previousy put on trial with the accusation of “ insulting the president”. The case has been dropped based on the four months of nonaction in Press Law.
- Journalists Berfin Aslan and Perihan Erkılıç and Yeni Yaşam Newspaper’s media worker Mehmet Şahin who had been detained during municipality trustee protests in İstanbul and later put on trial, have acquitted from the lawsuit.
- In the frame of Sözcü Newspaper Lawsuit, the decision of warrant put on the newspaper publisher Burak Akbay whose case folder was separated, has been removed after the objection made by the newspaper lawyers.
- In the second hearing of Yeni Yaşam Newspaper writer Kenan Kaya who had been put on trial with the alleged accusation of ‘making propaganda of an [terrorist] organization’, the prosecutor demanded punishment.
Censorship, repression and assaults
- It has been reported that news websites such as BirGün, Cumhuriyet, Sözcü and soL cannot be reached through the High-Speed Train’s internet connection.
- Istanbul’s 9th Criminal Judicature of Peace decided the ban and the forced recall for the newspaper Özgür Gelecek için Yeni Demokrasi.
- The trustee appointed to Diyarbakır’s Sur Municipality dismissed journalists Zafer Tüzün and Fatime Tekin, who have been working for the press department of the municipality.
- Many media workers among whom are the journalists from Evrensel, Cumhuriyet and Birgün, who applied for and were waiting for the renewal of their national press cards for long, had their cards cancelled.