Pz, Ağu

Turkey’s government continued full steam ahead in its pressure against the country’s journalists in the month of June amid near unparalleled violence and instability in the country, although networks of solidarity managed to secure victories for the free press.

Acting under pressure from the government, Turkey’s judiciary has continued to open a myriad of cases against participants in Özgür Gündem’s “editor-in-chief on duty” solidarity campaign with the under-fire daily. Investigations have been opened into 50 of Özgür Gündem’s 56 guest editors-in-chief. Trials, in turn, have been opened into 16 of these cases, while three have been arrested amid a decision by prosecutors to drop charges against six. As part of attacks, DİSK Basın-İş Chair Faruk Eren, DİSK Basın-İş Executive Board Member Ayşe Düzkan and other colleagues are facing 12 years in jail on spurious terror propaganda charges. With 90% of the participants in the campaign facing investigation as of 28 June, journalists and their supporters have been treading a well-worn path to Istanbul’s Çağlayan Courthouse to provide testimony – prompting prosecutors to redirect them to the police station where there would ostensibly be less opportunity to conduct impromptu free speech demonstrations.

Three prominent journalists and free speech advocates, Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TİHV) Chair Şebnem Korur Fincancı, Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF) Turkey representative Erol Önderoğlu and journalist/writer Ahmet Nesin were all arrested on 20 June with a demand for up to 14 years in jail for participating in the Özgür Gündem campaign.

Solidarity networks helped secure the release of Financı and Önderoğlu on the last day of the month, with Nesin also seemingly set for imminent freedom. Elsewhere, there was joy as Dicle News Agency (DİHA) journalist Bilal Güldem was also freed after a hearing in Mardin following 71 days in captivity.

Despite these small victories, pressure against journalists, however, continues unabated. For every journalist released from arrest in prison, it seems two more are investigated, detained, arrested or convicted.

But without organized action from journalists, the situation would only be worse. “They thought they could eliminate freedom of the press and expression,” Fincancı said upon her release from prison. “But they saw that the level of solidarity rose, rather than fell.”

30 June 

  • A court orders the release of Turkish Human Rights Foundation (TİHV) head Professor Şebnem Korur Financı and Reporters sans frontières (RSF) Turkey representative Erol Önderoğlu after accepting their lawyers’ objections to their arrests for participating in a solidarity campaign with Özgür Gündem.
  • Arrested Dicle News Agency (DİHA) journalist Bilal Güldem is released at his first hearing at the Mardin 2ndCourt of Serious Crimes.
  • Dargeçit Municipality employee and Dicle News Agency (DİHA) journalist Murat Verim is sentenced to three years in jail at his first hearing for “terrorist propaganda.”
  • Jin News Agency (JİNHA) reporters Manolya Bulut is sentenced to one year and three months in jail for “conducting terrorist propaganda” in her social media posts. The conviction will be erased from Bulut’s file if she is not charged with any other crime in the next five years.
  • Cemile Bayraktar, a writer with the pro-government daily Yeni Şafak, is dropped from Aktüel.
  • Yürüyüş journal News Editor Mustafa Doğru is sentenced to four years in jail for two different articles published in the journal.

29 June

  • A court orders the release of Turkish Human Rights Foundation (TİHV) head Professor Şebnem Korur Financı and Reporters sans frontières (RSF) Turkey representative Erol Önderoğlu after accepting their lawyers’ objections to their arrests for participating in a solidarity campaign with Özgür Gündem.
  • The Ankara Gölbaşı Criminal Court of Peace blocks access to Özgür Gündem’s website, "www.ozgurgundem.biz", with an administrative decision.
  • Diyarbakır MP Feleknas Uca demands information from Interior Minister Efkan Ala regarding prohibitions against 53 books published by the Aram Publishing House.

28 June

  • A media blackout is imposed following an attack at Istanbul Atatürk Airport’s international terminal.

27 June

  • Investigations are opened against Hasan Cemal, Hasan Hayri Şanlı, Dicle Anter, Çilem Küçükkeleş, Deniz Türkali and Said Sefa, who recently participated in a solidarity campaign with Özgür Gündem. Since the campaign began on 3 May, 50 of the 55 participants have been subjected to probes, while three have been arrested.
  • Yürüyüş Journal reporter Ebru Yeşilırmak is injured in the back after police reportedly opened fire on a vehicle in Istanbul’s Gazi neighborhood.
  • Turkish authorities order the formal confiscation of 53 books published by Aram Publishing House after soldiers seized 3,959 books in the Central Anatolian province of Kırşehir in April as the titles were being sent to a book fair in İzmir.

 26 June

  • Police tasked with preventing the Pride March in Istanbul’s Taksim area issue death threats against Italian journalist Alberto Tetta. “Don’t report anything negative about Turkey or I’ll shoot you,” police reportedly told Tetta.

24 June

  • Cumhuriyet newspaper, which had announced plans to publish the Panama Papers, reports receiving death threats from pro-government businessman Mehmet Cengiz, whose name has been mentioned in the papers.

23 June

  • Arrested Dicle News Agency (DİHA) journalist Nazım Daştan is released at his first hearing.
  • A trial is opened against imc TV news editor Hamza Aktan, who was detained on 30 April for messages shared on his Twitter feed, with the demand that he serve five years in prison.

22 June

  • Turkey’s media watchdog RTÜK fines Hayatın Sesi, formerly Hayat TV, for its news coverage of the 13 March massacre in Ankara while also issuing a warning to the channel for news pieces about Cizre.
  • Erol Önderoğlu, Şebnem Korur Fincancı, Emine Beyza Üstün, İnan Kızılkaya and Ahmet Nesin face between two and 14 years in jail for “conducting terrorist propaganda,” “inciting crime” and “praising crime and criminals” while participating in a solidarity campaign with Özgür Gündem.
  • Three journalists are injured in a brawl in the northern province of Zonguldak as union representatives addressed miners regarding rumors that their mine is set to be privatized. Barış Doğan, a reporter for local newspaper Halkın Sesi, was taken by ambulance to hospital while Anadolu Agency Zonguldak reporter Ferdi Akıllı and Pusula newspaper reporter Cüneyt Özfidan received medical reports indicating that they had been struck.

21 June

  • Hürriyet New York representative Razi Canikligil is released after being detained at Istanbul Atatürk Airport.
  • Journalist Mürsel Çoban, who was subjected to an order for his apprehension despite not receiving any summons, is released after being detained the previous day in Diyarbakır’s Sur district.

20 June

  • Erol Önderoğlu, Şebnem Korur Financı and Ahmet Nesin are arrested on terrorism propaganda charges for participating in a solidarity campaign with Özgür Gündem.
  • Journalist Mürsel Çoban is detained following a routine ID check by police in Diyarbakır's Sur district on the grounds that he was being sought in a probe. While previously covering a story in Sur, Çoban was threatened by special forces, who said they would "make him disappear in the trenches."
  • Hürriyet newspaper New York representative Razi Canikligil is detained at Istanbul Atatürk Airport.
  • 8 Eylül 2015 tarihinde Hürriyet gazetesinin Ankara'daki matbaasına saldıran 11 sanıktan 10'u beraat ederken bir kişiye verilen hapis ceazsı 'iyi hali' nedeniyle para cezasına çevrildi.
    Ten of 11 suspects who were accused of attacking Hürriyet’s printers in Ankara on 8 September 2015 are acquitted while the remaining suspect’s prison sentence is commuted to a monetary fine due to “good conduct.”

16 June

  • The CNN Türk news channel lays off Yalım Eralp (CNN Türk foreign affairs commentator), Mine Özbek (‘Tarafsız Bölge’ program editor), Deniz Demir (CNN Türk editor), Safiye Işıklı (CNN Türk news center reporter), Ayda Yavuz (CNN Türk guest coordinator) and Hakan Durmuş (CNN Türk visual director).
  • Turkey’s media watchdog fines seven television channels, Can Erzincan, Habertürk, NTV, Ulusal, CNN Türk, Bengütürk and Halk Tv, for broadcasting a Republican People’s Party (CHP) group meeting on 24 May in which parliamentarians “insulted” President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan with slogans.

15 June

  • A prosecutor demands 52 years and six months in prison for former Taraf Editor-in-Chief Ahmet Altan, former Taraf Deputy Editor-in-Chief Yasemin Çongar and former Taraf journalist Yıldıray Oğur in an indictment into news stories as part of the “Balyoz” (Sledgehammer) coup plot conspiracy case. The indictment also demanded 75 years in jail for journalists Mehmet Baransu and Tuncay Opçin.
  • Ferhat Parlak, the publisher of the Silvan Mücadele newspaper who was detained in Silvan, is released on probation after being sent to a court with a demand for his arrest.
  • The Telecommunications Directorate (TİB) blocks access to Google’s web cache system.
  • An investigation is opened into Bianet founder Nadire Mater, former Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) MP Beyza Üstün, journalists Mehmet Güç and Tuğrul Eryılmaz, İMC TV Diyarbakır representative Faruk Balıkçı and writer Şeyhmus Diken on accusations of “terrorist propaganda” for their participation in a solidarity campaign with Özgür Gündem. Some 37 people are being investigated in connection with the solidarity campaign.
  • A court in Van’s Çatak district sentences former Dicle News Agency (DİHA) Van reporter Mehmet Dursun to two years and six months in prison for “defaming the security forces.” The court suspended the sentence for five years.

14 June

  • Ferhat Parlak, the publisher of the Silvan Mücadele newspaper, is detained in a midnight raid on his house in Diyarbakır’s Silvan district as a result of an 11-month-old order for his apprehension and arrest.

13 June

  • Books that were sent to arrest Dicle News Agency (DİHA) journalist Nedim Türfent are confiscated on the grounds of “encouraging separatism” despite the existence of any formal prohibition.
  • Ahmet Abdulkadir, the news editor of weekly Arabic-language newspaper Ayn Vatan in Şanlıurfa, is shot in a gun attack. Last year, his 20-year-old brother and colleague at Ayn Vatan, Ibrahim Abdulkadir was murdered by ISIL operatives who decapitated him. 
  • Gaziantep Güncel newspaper Editor-in-Chief Murat Güreş is injured in a knife attack.

11 June

  • Unidentified people throw Molotov cocktails at a storage belonging to Avesta Publications in Diyarbakır.

10 June

  • Former Bugün writer Gültekin Avcı, who is also the lawyer of arrested Samanyolu Editor-in-Chief Hidayet Karaca, is released as part of the Selam Tevhid trial.
  • Dicle News Agency (DİHA) Nedim Oruç is released at his first hearing after five months of arrest.
  • Turkey’s media watchdog, RTÜK, bans Diyarbakır-based Özgür Gün TV from broadcasting for one day and orders the channel to pay a 14,359 TL fine.
  • “Şimdi ve Burada” (Here and Now), a program on Habertürk TV hosted by journalists Yıldıray Oğur and Ceren Kenar, two journalists said to be close to ex-PM Dahmet Davutoğlu, is taken off the air. The decision came after pro-government social media sites suggested figures close to Davutoğlu would be removed from their positions. The resignation of Vatan News Editor Fikret Bila is also connected to the operation, according to reports.
  • Soldiers seize camera equipment of Dicle News Agency (DİHA) reporters Dicle Müftüoğlu and Selami Aslan as they attempt to conduct interviews in Şırnak’s Kumçatı area with Şırnak residents who were forced to flee a curfew in the province. The soldiers forcibly erased pictures and videos taken by the journalists before telling them, “We won’t let you report this news.”
  • Ceylan Publications reports that passages regarding Kurds in books that it had delivered to D&R for sale were torn up before being returned.
  • A Turkish chief prosecutor’s office opens an investigation into Cumhuriyet newspaper for running a story on 14 March 2016 on a bomb attack the previous day in Ankara’s Güvenpark area that killed 35 people.

9 June

  • Journalist Mustafa Hoş is sentenced to 11 months and 20 days in prison for his book on President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, “Big Boss.” The sentence was subsequently commuted to a fine of 10,500 TL.

8 June

  • A group of people attempts to lynch journalists Hatice Kamer, Mahmut Bozarslan and Sertaç Kayar as they cover the aftermath of an explosion in Mardin’s Midyat district.

7 June

  • The 10th Criminal Court of Peace Board imposes a media blackout on news related to an explosion in Istanbul’s Vezneciler neighborhood that killed at least 11 people.
  • The Istanbul 13th Court of Serious Crimes sentences journalist Hayri Tunç to two years in jail for conducting “terrorist propaganda” in social media posts and news photos.
  • Internet news site owner Kamuran Alagözoğlu is attacked by an unknown person throwing punches in the northwestern province of Bolu.

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