BİA Media Monitoring Report 2010 Third Quarter - Full Text
2010 Third Quarter Media Monitoring Report
Erol Önderoğlu - BIA News Desk 04/02/2011

Killed Journalists

Trial opened eight months after Hayrısevener Murder: Eight months after the murder of journalist Cihan Hayırsevener, publication director of the Güney Marmara’da Yaşam (‘Life in Southern Marmara’) newspaper, the Istanbul 10th High Criminal Court opened a trial. Journalist Hayırsevener was killed on 18 December 2009 in Bandırma (south coast of the Sea of Marmara) after he had been threatened because of his articles on corruption. He was shot into his leg on the centrally located Atatürk Avenue and died as a result of blood loss. Hayırsevener had reported about detention operations carried out by the police related to alleged corruption in tenders of the Bandırma Municipality. The operations apparently also target the media group. The police detained 29-year-old Serkan Erakkuş in the context of the murder. Defendants Tolga Ö. and Ali T. were released pending trial. Tensions had occurred between the regionally publishing Marmara group and the İlkhaber group prior to the murder.  One of the issues of discussion was the thermal power plant planned to be built in the region. İlkhaber had criticized in their news items that the Marmara group opposed the building of the power plant. The case related to the Hayırsevener murder will start on 15 October. Among the twleve defendants on trial are Engin Arıcan, Ilk Haber newspaper publishing coordinator, the Bandırma Deputy Mayor, Talip Yıldız, and members of the family who is publishing the Ilk Haber daily, namely İhsan Kuruoğlu, İlbey Kuruoğlu and Osman Kuruoğlu.

End of status of limitation for crimes against humanity: On 19 July, the General President of the Contemporary Journalists Association (ÇGD)Ahmet Abakay, announced that the statements of former CIA agent Reza Kahili made to Hürriyet newspaper should be investigated. Kahili is the author of the book “Time of Betrayal” (‘İhanet Zamanı’) published in the USA. He said, “Turkey was the region with the most intensive activities of the Revolutionary Guards during the time I was working. I did not participate in the operations in Turkey. But the Quds Force established within the Revolutionary Guards for assassinations and bombings included the so-called Branch 5000 that was working on Turkey. They were very active in Turkey. The Branch 5000 was behind dozens of assassinations in Turkey until the mid 1990s. They targeted opponents of the Iranian regime in particular. But I know that also secular Turkish writers were targeted in these operations. You asked me about Uğur Mumcu and I heard his name before. I do not know though if the Branch 5000 played any role in his assassination”. Abakay stressed that certain evaluations suggested that Iran was involved in the murders of Muammer Aksoy, Bahriye Üçok, Uğur Mumcu and Ahmet Taner Kışlalı in the 1990s. He indicated, “For a government that claims to be working for the truth to emerge it would be useful to discuss this with priority and in detail”. Several trials related to attacks and the murders of lawyer Bahriye Üçok and journalists Uğur Mumcu and Ahmet Taner Kışlalı are still pending at the Ankara 11th High Criminal Court, holding the “Tawhid-Salaam Jerusalem Organization” responsible for the incidents. The Public Prosecutor demanded prison terms of between seven years and six months and 15 years for defendant Recep Aydın under charges of “membership of an armed terrorist organization”.

The Ankara 11th High Criminal Court is still continuing the trial against the “Tawyhid-Salaam Jerusalem Organization” that is held responsible for many attacks and the murders of lawyer Bahriye Üçok and journalists Uğur Mumcu and Ahmet Taner Kışlalı. The Public Prosecutor demands prison terms of 7.5 to 15 years for defendant Recep Aydın under charges of “membership of an armed terrorist organization”. Defendants Mehmet Ali Tekin and Hasan Kılıç are each facing imprisonment of 12.5 to 18 years and nine months under charges of “managing an armed terrorist organization endowing special duties”. Furthermore, the prosecutor demanded imprisonment of between six years and three months and 12.5 years each for defendants Abdulhamit Çelik, Fatih Aydın, Yusuf Karakuş and Mehmet Aydın on charges of “membership of an armed terrorist organization” and an aggravated life sentence for defendant Ekrem Baytap according to article 146/1 of the Turkish Criminal Law (TCK) on the “attempt to change the constitutional order by force”. The Platform for Social Conscience is struggling for lifting the statute of limitation for investigating and prosecuting murders and assassinations of intellectuals. The platform advocates for a referring regulation.

State remains untouched in Dink trial: The 14th hearing of the Hrant Dink murder trial was held before the Istanbul 14th High Criminal Court on 12 July. The Turkish-Armenian journalist and founder of the Armenian Agos newspaper was gunned down in front of his office in Istanbul on 19 January 2007. The court once more dismissed the prosecutor’s request to hear Sabri Uzun, former head of the intelligence office, at court. Sabri had stated in previous hearings, “There was the written report notifying about a ‘crucial action to be done’ which referred to the planned murder of Dink. If this report had reached me before it was archived, this would not have happened”. The decision to launch an investigation about five people who allegedly identified Dink as a target at the Istanbul Governorship, in front of the Agos newspaper and in the court room prior to the journalist’s assassination was left to the Istanbul Public Prosecution by the court. These persons are the former Deputy Governor of Istanbul, Ergun Güngör, who had “warned” Hrant Dink; the former National Intelligence Agency (MİT) Istanbul executive, Özer Yılmaz; the former President of the ultra-nationalist Grey Wolves, Levent Temiz, who had told Dink in front of the Agos newspaper office, “Hrant Dink, from now on you will be a target of the Turkish nation”; Erhan Timuroğlu, who said in police custody after the attack on the Council of State, “If we had not been caught, we would have killed Armenians in Istanbul”; and lawyer Kemal Kerinçsiz who identified Dink as a target by certain activities and complaints. Yılmaz, Timuroğlu and Kerinçsiz are defendants of the Ergenekon trial. The court dismissed the request to take the statements of Erhan Sevil and Mehmet Ali Temelocak who sat next to and behind prime suspect Ogün Samast in the bus when the latter one was on his way to Istanbul to kill Dink. The demand was rejected because “the plaintiff lawyers were not prepared and did not present any documents and information about the persons on subject”. The plaintiff lawyers pointed to the fact that the names of police officers Murat Tekin and Necati Ekinci were also included in the Ergenekon scheme regarding the trial on the clandestine ultra-national Ergenekon organization. The lawyers demanded to take their statements. Tekin and Eknici will be asked to give their statements related to the Hrant Dink murder after an according directive will have been issued by the responsible High Criminal Court. It was said that these police officers were on duty in Trabzon prior to the murder. The court decided to bring witnesses Mesut Kadri and Cemal Yıldırım to court by compulsion in order to take their statements. It was decided that a further writ should be sent again to the Presidency of the Trabzon High Criminal Court on Duty and the Çemişgezek Criminal Court of First Instance in order to take the statements of Sinan Raşitoğlu and Şahabettin Şahin. The answer of the Amasya High Criminal Court is expected regarding the statement of Erhan Özen who got caught as an informant at the Istanbul Provincial Gendarmerie Command. The court refrained from taking the statement of witness Emsale Çakmakçı and will reiterate the written directive to take the statement of Ergün Çağatay. The court decided to continue the detention of suspects Ogün Samast, Erhan Tuncel and Yasin Hayal. The court is going to request the Istanbul Bar Association to appoint a lawyer for Tuncel. After the release of Ersin Yolcu and Ahmet İskender, only three defendants remained in detention. The case will be continued on 25 October.

Attacks and Threats

Stones thrown at TAYAD members: 30 members of the Solidarity Association of Prisoners’ Families (TAYAD) were taken into police custody on 30 September. The TAYAD members had joined a march form Istanbul to Ankara on 18 September to set a sign for the lifting of isolation in prisons. The TAYAD members came from the Gazi District (Ankara) on 29 September under security measures. They were attacked with stones by a group of people who were alleged ülkücü, i.e. nationalist youths associated with the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). The group went along the Celal Bayar Avenue under security measures to reach the Abdi İpekçi Park for a protest action. Cameraman M.V. of the İhlas News Agency was being assaulted when he recorded footage of the march. The police intervened when the attackers also assaulted İHA reporter B.C. The Ankara police did not permit the group to continue their march after the incident. 30 people were taken into custody in the course of the harsh intervention by the police.

Threatened when criticizing District Governor: The Çine Uğur newspaper received threats after the article entitled “What is the duty of the District Governor in Çine?” written by Yılmaz Sağlık, publication director of the newspaper, was published on the daily’s internet site www. on 14 September.The police filed a criminal complaint upon the instistence of his wife but was only heard by the police eight days later. The article accused the district governor of turning a blind eye to corruption in the district. Certain terms used in the article with the full title “Desolate mountains, desolate streams, what is the duty of the District Governor in Çine”? were found “insulting and ridiculing”. These were expressions such as “to wear blinkers, to be a handler of problems, to turn a blind eye on illegality, to remain silent on gambling”.

BDP member Akın Birdal attacked in Bursa: Akın Birdal, member of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) and Member of Parliament for Diyarbakır, was attacked by university student Bilgihan Şimşek in Bursa on 10 September. Birdal was delivering a speech at a meeting in the run-up to the referendum on the constitutional reform package on 12 September. BDP members intervened against the attacker. The police intervened with tear gas against the perpetrator who had to be treated in hospital afterwards. A group of about 500 people had  gathered at the centre of Bursa to call for a boycott of the referendum. The attacker became subject of a lynch attack by the crowd after he had attacked Birdal. Şimşek was first taken to the Yıldırım District Police Directorate and later on brought to the Şevket Yılmaz State Hospital. Kurdish politician Sebahat Tuncel made a speech after the situation had cooled down again. She said that the attack was a provocation.

Accused of beating his wife; threating a journalist: Journalist Yakup Önal, owner of the weekly Şarköy Sesi (‘Voice of Şarköy) newspaper published in the Şarköy district of Tekirdağ west of Istanbul, claimed to have been threatened and insulted by Ali Bayraktar, President of the Şarköy Association for the Thoughts of Atatürk. Allegedly, Bayraktar, member of the municipality assembly governed by the Republican People’s Party (CHP), verbally attacked Önal at a meeting of the Şarköy Municipality on 6 September. In the issue of 11-17 August, the newspaper had reported about the conviction of Bayraktar because he had beaten his wife. The weekly brought the guilty verdict to the agenda in an article entitled “The CHP member and member of the Municipality Assembly was convicted for beating his wife”. Journalist Önal expressed his view as follows: “We made news in our local newspaper about a trial that was concluded in April. He [Bayraktar] requested permission to speak in the assembly meeting. His complaint about the news in our newspaper was full of threats and insults. The mayor did not interfere. They expelled me from the assembly hall afterwards for a closed session”.

Orhan Miroğlu threatened via the phone: Taraf newspaper writer and Kurdish politician Orhan Miroğlu received a death threat when he was on his way back to Ankara after promoting his latest book entitled “Dead or alive – Letters from the Diyarbakır Prison” in Istanbul. Miroğlu took the evening flight from Istanbul to Ankara on 3 September. He received the death threat via his cell phone at around midnight when he had arrived at the Ankara bus terminal. An unknown individual called Miroğlu and said, “You can die any moment!” It was announced that Miroğlu hung up angrily. Miroğlu wrote about the incident in his article published in the daily on 6 September. He said that he received threatening e-mails from time to time. Miroğlu continued, “This sort of e-mails is sent to me too. But I received a death threat for the first time, especially to such an effect. Maybe it would have been better not to share this with my family, but it probably was the best to tell them and so I did…” However, Miroğlu makes sure that he has no intention of stepping back because of fear.

Reporter Topsakal threatened by e-mail: Günlük Evrensel newspaper reporter Özgür Topsakal was threatened after the publication of the article entitled “The solution of the problem” on 29 July. Topsakal received an e-mail with a picture showing him amongst other people after the murder of Turkish-Armenian jouranlist Hrant Dink. The mail read, “The Alperen members [islamist/nationalist] will certainly call you to account for what it means to call a great leader a baby murderer. There is no hole to hide in this country for traitors of the fatherland”. Topsakal complained at the Elbistan Prosecution. He said that the police called him twice on the issue, “People introducing themselves as police officers called me and asked questions unrelated to the issue. They asked me for the name and ID number of the person who threatened me and for his/her parents’ names. I actually filed the criminal complaint to find out about the very identity of that person”, he said.

Aladağ threatened: “This is our last warning”: The Steering Board Member of the Çukurova  Journalists Associaiton (ÇGC)Özcan Aladağ, writer for the local Kent newspaper, was attacked by two unidentified young people on 9 August. Aladağ was attacked by two people in their early twenties in the Abidin Dino Park in Çukurova (south-eastern Turkey) when he had left the municipality building after having covered a meeting of the Metropolitan Municipality Assembly. Before beating the journalist, one of the attackers supposedly said, “This is our last warning to you. You will not write again”. It was said that the security staff in the park watched the attack. The attackers ran away after the attack. It was reported that several writings of the journalist published throughout the previous month were seen as the reason of the attack. Aladağ gave his statement at the Şehit Erdoğan Çıtak Police Centre. He filed a complaint against both attackers and obtained a medical report from the Forensic Medicine Institute documenting the beating. The Çukurova Journalists Association demanded to arrest the attackers as soon as possible. The article “Will you seize the right to trivial peace” published on the website and in the Adana Ulus newspaper on 31 August criticized the high contamination of the water supplied to the inhabitants of Adana, a population of 2 million people. It is not clear if the attack was based on that article.

Tekin attacked for depicting accident: On 5 August, it was reported that İhlas News Agency (İHA) intelligence reporter Edip Tekin was attacked when he attempted to take pictures of a traffic accident that happened in the Osmangazi district of Bursa (north-western Turkey). Apparently, Tekin was attacked by the people involved in the accident. His camera got broken. The Turkish Journalists Association (TGC) condemned the attack that happened in the Yunuseli neighbourhood and emphasized that the number of threats and attacks against journalist was increasing at a fast rate. The TGC pointed out that beating a journalist who is fulfilling his public duty was to be seen as an indicator of intolerance towards press freedom.

Police broke finger of Vahap İş: Vahap İş, reporter for the Hedef Newspaper and the Dicle News Agency (DİHA), filed a criminal complaint at the Nusaybin Prosecution about the police officers who are responsible for beating and arresting him on 25 July in Nusaybin in the south-eastern province of Mardin. In his petition for redress, the journalist argued that subsequent to his arrest, he was taken to the District Police Directorate. One of his fingers got broken when the police took his camera away from him. He also claimed that he had been exposed to several insults. İş received a sick certificate for ten days. the journalist was going to cover a demonstration in Nusaybin about torture allegations regarding bodies of killed members of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). İş recorded footage with his camera showing intervening police offers beating a child. In the course of the incident, the police apparently also intervened against İş and seized his equipment. İş stated that he was also insulted and cursed at the police station. He was able to take back his equipment but the police illegally seized the footage and kept his voice recorder, İş said.

DHA reporter beaten in teachers house: Journalist Cevdet Şen, Doğan News Agency (DHA) reporter for the city of Kınık, was assaulted in the local teachers house on 26 July because of a news report he had written about a raid on a pharmacy. 18-year-old F.K. supposedly hit Şen on his head with a hard object in the teachers’ house in the district of Kınık in Izmir. F.K. immediately fled the scene after the attack. Journalist Şen was wounded and taken to the Kınık Health Centre where he received first aid. He was then transferred to the Bergama State Hospital. The journalist did not suffer from serious injuries. He apparently said, “I was hit on the head three times in a row. I did not understand what was going on. I do not have any problems with anybody”. Suspect F.K. was taken into police custody.

Provocation and attack against DİHA reporters: Journalists İsmail Eskin and Çağdaş Kaplan from the Dicle News Agency (DİHA) were attacked by a large group of people when they were covering a demonstration in Küçükçekmece, a district on the European side of Istanbul on 18 July. Eskin and Kaplan were taken to hospital. DİHA announced that the incident was directed by a plainclothes police officer. The journalists were in the Kanarya quarter of Küçükçekmece to gather information about a protest march against increased police operations against the Provincial Organization of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) and against alleged desecration of bodies of members of the militant Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) who got killed in armed conflicts. As reported by DİHA, a group of demonstrators threw a Molotov cocktail and set an office on fire. At the same time, a person who supposedly was a plainclothes police officer, pointed at the journalists and told the others that they had organized the use of Molotov cocktails. Thereupon, a large group of demonstrators attacked Eskin and Kaplan, DİHA announced. The attackers tried to throw Kaplan into the burning office. When Eskin tried to stop them, he was beaten with a rod. It was also reported that the attackers grabbed one of the journalists’ cameras. According to the news agency, the police as the responsible party to take security measures remained passive spectators of the assault. The journalists eventually managed to escape. Eskin suffered two cracks in his head and a broken arm, Kaplan was beaten at various parts of his body. Eskin and Kaplan went to the Taksim First Aid Hospital and underwent medical treatment.

Police violence against journalist at BDP event: On 17 July, DHA reporter and editor-in-chief of the weekly Midyat Habur newspaper, Mehment Halis İş, was exposed to police violence when he was covering a protest action organized by the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP). The protest in the Brotherhood Park of Midyat (south-eastern province of Mardin) was attended by about 300 people and drew attention to PKK members who were killed in armed conflicts and supposedly tortured. İş observed how two elderly people who carried pictures of killed PKK members were taken into custody together with two other people who allegedly chanted illegal slogans. BDP members later on organized a sit-down strike in front of the District Police Directorate and demanded the release of the four people in custody. When İş took pictures of the protestors, a plainclothes police officer physically intervened against him, it was reported. Footage published on the local newspaper’s website showed a plaincloth person approaching the journalist aggressively and rebuked him, “What are you filming?”. İş criticized, “A society without press freedom is not a democratic and liberal society. According to he ECHR, a free press plays a vital role in the functioning of democracies. It is the duty of the press to inform the public on all subjects”. 22 non-governmental organizations from the city of Midyat condemned the intervention against the journalist, including representatives from different ethnic and religious groups, e.g. Syrian, Sayyid, Arabic and Kurdish organizations. They were accompanied by members of the Midiyat Civil Society Assembly and many other citizens.

News Director attacked in his car: Şükrü Gökkaya, news director of the Bizim Radio Television (BR TV) broadcasting in the province of Karabük in northern Turkey, was attacked in his car on 7 July. Gökkaya was attacked by a member of the Turkish Metal Workers Union. The man, who allegedly came to back from work allegedly stopped Gökkaya when the journalist returned from work and punched him with his fist. Gökkaya is in good health. The suspect was arrested. The President of the Contemporary Journalists Association (ÇGD)Mustafa Yanık, condemned the attack, “An attack on the press is an attack on social peace”. Gökkaya commented, “The punch was not for me in fact. Thank God it did not cause me any serious trouble. But the punch hit the peace of Karabük, which has been known as the most peaceful city for years”. The President of the Karabük Journalists Association, Atilla Karaaslan, said in a written statement, “It is obvious who is responsible for this attack. We remind these officials of whom we know that they are primarily responsible to continue their fight on legal grounds and not to provoke workers and incite them to hatred”.

“Certain newspapers” react to a “certain general”: “A Cerain General” was the headline of Taraf newspaper after General İlker Başbuğ, then Chief of General Staff, had referred to the nation-wide daily as a “certain newspaper”. The daily accused Başbuğ of having violated the law. Başbuğ had alleged  that information about the “Action Plan against Reactionary Forces” published by Taraf had been leaked by the police.Taraf newspaper asked Başbuğ whether he had any evidence, writing, “Does he have any evidence or did he just make it up to divert attention from another issue?” The newspaper had previously criticized the general for saying “Either resign as a member of parliament or go to the mountains”, referring to pro-Kurdish MPs in the “Arena” program hosted by Uğur Dündar and broadcasted on 5 July on Star TV. Taraf newspaper reminded the fact that Başbuğ had said “No Turkish blood is running through their veins” regarding a news item he disapproved of. The daily stated, “This is racism, are you aware of that?” Taraf publications director Ahmet Altan harshly criticized Başbuğ in a writing published on 7 July. “If you want to carry those stars in an honourable manner, you should learn to respect the ones who wear these stars, do not go beyond the line of politeness” he wrote.

Arrests and Detentions

BDP member Demirel and five children in custody: On 23 September it was reported that Ayhan Demirel, Tutak (eastern Turkey) district chairman of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), and five children were arrested by the police when they were handing out leaflets related to the school boycott campaign initiated in the Kurdish-majority region of south-eastern Turkey. According to BDP Ağrı Provincial Chair Mustafa Akyol, Demirel was released later on together with three children.  The other two children were brought to the Children Court Prosecution in Erzurum because of their young age. Akyol argued that Demirel and the children were arrested because they were campaigning for the one-week school boycott. He reported that he had been interrogated by the Ağrı Public Prosecution a couple of days before out of the same reason: “I gave my statement to the prosecutor as well because I distributed leaflets. The prosecutors are trying to turn the school boycott into a certain direction. The prosecutor asked me questions such as if the leaflets were printed by the organization [i.e. the militant Kurdistan Workers Party PKK]”. The one-week school boycott for the right to education in the mother tongue was initiated by the Movement for Research on the Kurdish Language, Development and Education (TZP- Kurdi) and started on the first day of the new school year.

US American journalist expelled: US American journalist Jake Hess was taken into police custody by police officers of the Diyarbakır Anti Terror Branch on 11August. He was supposedly taken into custody because his name is included in the indictment of the “KCK trial” and on the grounds of “spreading propaganda for the PKK”. After having been kept by the Diyarbakır police, Hess was expelled from the country. The journalist’s lawyer, Serkan Akbaş, confirmed that his client was taken into custody in the scope of the KCK trial. However, he assumed that the journalist’s news articles played a role as well. The case against Hess will start on 18 October. He apparently worked for the Inter Press Service (IPS) Agency. It was reported that he was alleged of having made PKK propanda on the grounds of his articles on burning regional forests, emptying villages and the bombing of Kurdish settlements in Northern Iraq by the Turkish Armed Forces.

Journalist convicted under Anti-Terror Law arrested: On 22 July, it was reported that the 5th High Criminal Court of Diyarbakır in the pre-dominantly Kurdish region of south-eastern Turkey detained journalist Ozan Kılınç, former concessionaire and editor-in-chief of the Azadiya Welat newspaper. Kılınç was arrested by the police in the course of a police raid on his home in Kayapınar, a district of Diyarbakır. He was detained and taken to the Diyarbakır D Type Prison after the court had confirmed his identity. On 9 February, the court had decided that contents of the Kurdish daily were opposing the Anti-Terror Law (TMY) and came to the conclusion that Kılınç “committed crimes on behalf of an illegal organization without being a member of the organization”. Kılınç was sentenced to imprisonment of 21 years and three months on the grounds of 12 issues of the newspaper published in June 2009.

Ongoing Detentions and Imprisonments of Journalists and Press Members

Publisher and journalist Adanır remains in prison: On 30 September, the Diyarbakır 6th High Criminal Court rejected the request for the release of Bedri Adanır, owner of Aram Publishing and editorial manager of the Kurdish Hawar newspaper. He is tried on the grounds of various news items, articles and photographs. In the hearing on 6 May, the prosecutor had demanded prison terms of up to 50 years in total under charges of “Membership of the PKK” and “making propaganda for an illegal organization”. Adanır was arrested on 5 January when he entered Turkey from Iraq at the Habur check point in Silopi in the province of Şırnak (south-eastern Anatolia). Since then, Adanır has been detained in the Diyarbakır D Type Prison. The defence lawyer was allowed additional time till 30 December for the preparation of his final speech. Adanır published a book on Abdullah Öcalan’s defence speeches, imprisoned leader of the PKK, made at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). The book was audited and approved by the Bursa Execution Justiceship, yet it was not given a revenue stamp by the Ministry of Culture but was forbidden. The prosecutor demanded a seven count sentence for Adanır according to article 7/2 of the Anti-Terror Law (TMY) and punishment under allegations of “committing a crime on behalf of a terrorist organization without being a member of the organization” based on articles 314/3 and 220/6 of the Turkish Criminal Code plus article 5 of the TMY related to an increase of the penalty.

Çakar, Kurşun, Kılınç and Güler in jail for their articles: Gurbet Çakar, editorial manager of the Rengê Hevîya Jinê women magazine, was detained in the middle of March 2010 by the Diyarbakır Public Prosecution under charges of “making propaganda for the PKK via the media” and “membership of the PKK”. Çakar had actually gone to the prosecution in order to give her statement. She is detained in the Diyarbakır Prison. Her case will be continued on 7 October before the Diyarbakır 6th High Criminal Court. Besides Çakar, also former editors-in-chief of the Kurdish Azadiya Welat newspaper, Vedat Kurşun and Ozan Kılıç, are behind bars because of their articles and books. Kurşun was sentenced to imprisonment of 166 years; Kılınç received a sentence of 21 years and three months in jail. Kurşun was convicted in three different cases and received a total sentence of 174 years. The Court of Appeals upheld the decision to punish the journalist under charges of “committing a crime on behalf of an organization without being a member of the organization”. He furthermore received a 103-count sentence under charges of “propaganda for an illegal organization” and was convicted of endangering the “integrity of the nation and the country”. His publications were not evaluated within the scope of freedom of thought and opinion. Erdal Güler, the owner and editor of the Devrimci Demokrasi (‘Revolutionary Democracy’) periodical, has been in prison for three years on charges of writing articles praising organisations such as the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Maoist Communist Party (MKP). He was arrested on 26 December 2007 and taken to the Amasya Prison. He is now incarcerated in the Kandıra No. 1 F Type Prison. Güler’s release is not being expected before 2014. Güler is tried in the scope of dozens of files regarding allegations of “spreading propaganda for the PKK or the MKP organizations”. Güler is charged, mainly under the Anti-Terror Law, with “praising crime and criminals” relating to a message, entitled “We commemorate Mahir Çayan and his comrades with respect”, published in the April 2005 issue of the “Özgür Düsün” magazine, of which he is the editor. Güler was also charged in relation to another article, which commemorated communist leader Ibrahim Kaypakkaya, who was killed in 1973. The article was published in the 1-16 May 2006 issue of the “Revolutionary Democracy” magazine.

On 28 June, the Istanbul 13th High Criminal Court started the prosecution of Deniz Yıldırım, official of the weekly Aydınlık magazine, and Ufuk Akkaya from the National Channel. The journalists were taken to court for the first time after eight months of detention. Yıldırım and Akkaya were detained on 9 November 2009 because they had reported about illegally recorded telephone conversations between Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the former President of Northern Cyprus, Mehmet Ali Talat, in 2004.

Balbay and Özkan in prison for 19 months: The 82nd hearing of the Second Ergenekon Case that includes defendants such as retired Generals Hurşit Tolon and Şener Eruygur was held on 27 September. The audience in the court room had a brief laugh when Mustafa Balbay, former Ankara correspondent for the Cumhuriyet newspaper, said, “I wonder when Ergenekon will be held responsible for global warming as well” and Court President Köksal Şengün replied, “It’s possible”. A total of 108 defendants are being tried in the scope of the trial, 36 of whom are detained, among them journalists Balbay and Tuncay Özkan. Balbay stated, “Ahmet Özal alleges Ergenekon of having killed his father. The raid in Geçitli was supposedly carried out by Ergenekon. I wonder how this trial is going to take shape. I think the detention of a journalist is censorship. It is the unacceptable matter of fact that it is more important to silence the pens than the weapons. I am not holding a grudge but by keeping us here you have a grudge developing against you”. Özkan claimed, “Applications to limit the right to speak inside and outside pave the way to anger. Speaking initiates a dialogue. A dialogue cannot be started without speaking”. President Judge Şengün replied, “Do not say that against the court” whereupon Özkan answered, “You are our only addressee”. The 10 August hearing was attended by the steering board and members of the Izmir Journalists Association (İGC) to support Balbay and Özkan. İGC President Atilla Sertel, at the same time General President of the Turkish Journalists Federation, his deputy Ali Ekber Yıldırım and Secretary General Misket Dikmen were among the observers. Balbay criticized, “If our screams do not reach your conscience in this judicial year, this must not be called a high criminal court but a “deaf” criminal court. Are you keeping us in arrest by ignoring the ones who have been negotiating with the government outside for the past two years? We are following the developments of the “Sledgehammer” case. They were arrested and released three times. While the coup attempts of force commanders and military commanders of this country were incomplete, did just Mustafa Balbay make a full attempt?” Özkan scathed, “You are keeping me in arrest because there is no army behind me. What is my crime?”

Suzan Zengin imprisoned since 15 months: The trial against Suzan Zengin, journalist and interpreter at the Işçi-Köylü (Workers-Peasants) newspaper, before the Istanbul 10th High Criminal Court started on 26 August. Zengin stands accused of “membership of an illegal organization”. She was detained on 28 August 2009. The request for Zengin’s release pending trial was dismissed because of an alleged “possibility to conceal evidence”. Lawyer Gül Altay criticized the fact that her client was kept in detention despite a lack of concrete evidence. Altay claimed that the evidence brought up against Zengin stems from telephone conversations she made as an interpreter or for the newspaper with union presidents, representatives of the Işçi-Köylü newspaper or publishers of other magazines. “None of these phone talks contain any element of crime, they are not related to the incidents”, she said. Zengin will remain in jail for another six months. The coming hearing is scheduled for 15 February 2011. Prior to the first hearing, Ragıp Zarakolu, President of the Freedom of Publishing Committee of the Turkish Publishers Association (TYB), said that Zengin should be released. The TYB also demanded the release of writer Erdoğan Akhanlı in the same press conference. Akanlı had to leave Turkey in the course of the events around the military coup on 12 September 1980. Zarakolu criticized that the Anti-Terror Law (TMY) was used to oppress the socialist and the Kurdish press.

Karavil, Akyüz and Birsin incarcerated in “KCK trial”: Kenan Karavil, publications director of the Adana Dünya (‘World’) Radio, is being tried in the scope of the case regarding the urban structure of the Democratic Confederation of Kurdistan (KCK), the umbrella organisation that includes the PKK. Karavil has been in the Kürkçüler F Type Prison since 10 December 2009. He is facing prison terms of between eight and 22.5 years under charges of “committing a crime on behalf of an illegal organization” and “spreading propaganda for an illegal organization”. The first hearing will be held on 22 October at the Adana 8th High Criminal Court. Charges are being pressed against a total of 47 defendants, 22 of whom are detained. The indictment presented to the Adana court on 25 June was returned to the Adana Public Prosecutions by reasons of “insufficient evidence” and “not showing concrete offences of the detained defendants”. Azadiya Welat Adana correspondent Seyithan Akyüz was arrested together with Karavil after he had been kept in police custody for four days by the Adana Police Directorate Anti-Terror Branch. The former general publications co-ordinator of Gün TVAhmet Birisn, was taken into custody as well in the course of the KCK operation and has remained in the Diyarbakır D Type Prison ever since. This case is going to start on 18 October. The Diyabakır Public Chief Prosecution prepared a 7,578-page indictment. It seeks prison sentences of between 15 years and aggravated life sentences for each of a total of 151 defendants, 103 of them detained, under charges of “disrupting the unity and integrity of the state”, “membership and management of an illegal organization” and “assisting an illegal organization”.

Court of Appeal upheld verdict, journalists remain in jail: DİHA reporters Behdin Tunç and Faysal Tunç are incarcerated in the Diyarbakır D Type Prison after the Diyarbakır 5th High Criminal Court’s decision for a prison sentence of six years and three month each was upheld by the Court of Appeals 9th Circuit. The decision was communicated on 17 February. Both journalists were taken into custody and arrested on 5 April 2007. DİHA reporter Haydara Haykır was taken to the Batman H Type Prison on 12 January 2008 after he had been taken into custody on 8 January 2008 in the city of Cizre (Şırnak province).

Journalists Erodoğan, Çiçek and Şenoğlu detained for four years: The Istanbul 10th High Criminal Court continued the trial against 24 defendants accused of membership in or leadership of the illegal Marxist Leninist Communist Party (MLKP) on 29 July. The case was postponed to 10 December, the International Day of Human Rights. Those detained include Füsun Erdoğan, the broadcasting coordinator of the Istanbul Özgür Radyo (“Free Radio”) station, editor of the Atılım newspaper, İbrahim Çiçek, and Atılım publications co-ordinator Sedat Şenoğlu. 16 defendants are in detention. Lawyer Mihriban Kırdök requested the release of the defendants and claimed that the file was made up from a police scenario. “By means of the evidence we collected, the evidence presented in the indictment turned out to be fabricated by the police. His is the file of a conspiracy. What kind of power is behind this that these people are not being released?” Kırdök criticized. The lawyer said that the police did not even see the need to search the homes of her clients and put forward that the evidence was readily prepared anyways. She stated that there was no legal ground to continue the detentions. Defendant Erodğan pointed out that the documents allegedly found at the home of Naci Güner were included in the records according to the procedural rules. However, a 40-page printout mentioning the names of the defendants on trial and taken as the basis for all allegations against them was not included in the records, Erdoğan said. “The question has to be asked why the court did not proceed in line with the rules in this case”, she stated. Erdoğan, Çiçek and Şenoğlu have been detained since 8 September 2006.

Released at first hearing after one year: The Rize representative of Birgün newspaper and Show TV, Gençağa Karafazlı, former Rize Branch Manager of the Human Rights Association (İHD), was released on 3 August after 13.5 months in detention. He is alleged of membership of a gang. He had been taken into police custody on 16 June 2009 and was taken to the Rize Kalkandere Prison because of a telephone conversation with his relatives who stand accused of their alleged affiliation with the illegal organization. Karafazlı and another 16 defendants were taken before the Erzurum 2nd High Criminal Court for the first time and were released pending trial. İHD General President Öztürk Türkdoğan, joint attorney of the journalist, commented the decision, “It was understood that the indictment did not provide concrete allegations. We said that this was an injustice that should be ended today. The court listened to our call”. Journalist Karafazlı is tried under article 220/2 of the Turkish Criminal Law (TCK). The İHD had stated that the indictment did not provide any connections between Karafazlı and the twelve offences allegedly committed by the organization.

Attending a funeral as reason for arrest: The case against Arts and Life magazine publication director Hacı Orman, who is also the head of the Foundation for Science, Education, Aesthetics, Culture and Arts Research (BEKSAV), and another 26 people was continued before the Ankara 12th High Criminal Court. All 27 defendants attended the funeral of Kutsiye Bozoklar who was running the steering commission of the Atılm newspaper and the Arts and Life Magazine. The trial was postponed to 17 February 2011 when the final defence of the defendants will be presented.

Demand for free education became criminal offence: Ferhat Tüzer and Berna Yılmaz, two of the three young people who displayed a banner saying “We want free education, and we will get it” during the speech of PM Erdoğan at the “Romani meeting” in Istanbul on 14 March 2010, are detained defendants of a case tried at the Istanbul 10th High Criminal Court. Tüzer, Yılmaz and un-detained defendant Utku Aykar are facing prison sentences of between six and 15 years each under charges of “membership of the illegal Party and Revolutionary Front for the Liberation of the Turkish People (DHKP-C) organization” and “spreading propaganda for a terrorist organization”. The second hearing of the trial is scheduled for 14 December 2010. The indictment says that Berna Yılmaz participated in more than ten protest actions such as demonstrations against NATO and the World Bank and supporting the resistance of the Tekel workers. The Law Office explained that both the police and the prosecutor assessed the banner as a “crime”, the legal “Youth Associations Federation” was evaluated as an “illegal organization” and the slogan about free education was seen as a “slogan of an illegal organization”. The Law Office furthermore emphasized that the court approved of all points.

No release for Barış Açıkel: The owner and editor-in-chief of the Workers Peasants newspaper, Barış Açıkel, served his prison sentence of four years and eight months on charges of “membership of an illegal organization”. Yet, he cannot be released from the Kandıra No. 2 F Type Prison because his press files were finalized. Lawyer Gül Altay stated that the Istanbul High Criminal Courts made a mistake in the calculation regarding monetary fines imposed on the grounds of two press files. Altay said he was informed that the execution file was wrongly sent to the Prosecution of the Court of Appeals after their application to the Enforcement Prosecution. He said that they were waiting for the file to be returned to Istanbul. Açıkel is in jail since 2004, mainly under charges of “spreading propaganda for an illegal organization”.

Arrested Journalists

Writer Akhanlı accused of “armed robbery”: The Istanbul Public Chief Prosecution demanded an aggravated life sentence for writer Erdoğan Akhanlı in an indictment regarding the author’s alleged involvement in an armed robbery carried out on behalf of an illegal organization. Akhanlı was arrested on 10 August when he entered the country. The indictment was prepared by Public Prosecutor Hüseyin Ayar on 25 August. He demands Akhanlı’s punishment under Article 146 of the former TCK. The writer is detained in the Tekirdağ No.2 F Type Prison. He will be tried before the Istanbul 11th High Criminal Court. Akhanlı is considered as one of the culprits involved in a robbery on an exchange bureau in Eminönü (Istanbul) on 23 October 1989. The owner of the exchange office, İbrahim Yaşar Tutum, was killed in the robbery. His sons, Ünay and Mustafa Tutum,  are included in the indictment as the aggrieved party. The indictment alleges Akhanlı of membership of the “Turkish People’s Liberation Party – Re-Liberation Union People’s Liberation Forces” based on the statements taken from Mehmet Fatih Çalışkan and Hamza Kopal. The indictment is furthermore based on the assumption that “İbrahim Yaşar Tutum was probably killed by Hamza Kopal and his friends”. The court rejected Akhanlı’s release who has been detained since 10 August.

No end of persecution of conscientious objector İnan Süver: Conscientious objector İnan Süver was taken into custody on 5 August and imprisoned shortly after. “I am a conscientious objector and I do not want to do even one single day of military service” Süver said at the Ege Army Command Military Court. His trial will be continued on 8 November. Süver is detained in the Şirinyer Military Prison. The court rejected his release. Thereupon, he was transferred to the Buca Prision. His detention started on 6 August in the Kasımpaşa (Istanbul) Military Prison. On 9 August, he started a hunger strike. He was taken to the Haydarpaşa (Istanbul) Military Hospital on 12 August. Süver was conscripted in 2001but used his right to conscientious objection. The married father of three children was arrested in 2003 and detained in the Şirinyer Military Prison, nicknamed by conscientious objectors as the “Şirinyer Military Torture House”.

Trials on Press Freedom and Freedom of Expression

Zarakolu and Güler tried on KCK book: The trial against publisher Ragıp Zarakolu and writer Mehmet Güler on the grounds of the book “The KCK file/Global state and Kurds without a state” has started on 30 September at the Istanbul 10th High Criminal Court. The book was immediately banned and confiscated in May 2010, right after it had been published. Prosecutor Hakan Karaali prepared the indictment against writer Güler and publisher Ragıp Zarakolu, official of the Belge Publishing Company. The defendants are charged with “publishing statements of the PKK”, the militant Kurdistan Workers Party, and “spreading PKK propaganda”. Zarakolu and Güler are facing imprisonment of up to 7.5 years. Author Güler requested to lift the ban which was imposed on the book right after its publication. He demanded his acquittal. The hearing was observed by writer Mavia Modig from the International PEN Writers Association and writer Maureen Freely from PEN. Publisher Zarakolu did not attend the hearing because of health reasons. The court decided to issue a writ to bring him to court by compulsion. Furthermore, the court decreed for an evaluation regarding the final decision of the book ban. The case was adjourned to 2 December.

Ferhat Tunç facing 15 years in jail: Kurdish singer Ferhat Tunç is facing a 15-year prison sentence because of a speech Tunç delivered at the 1st Eruh-Çirav Nature and Culture Arts Festival (south-eastern province of Siirt) on 15 August 2009. He is charged with “spreading propaganda for the PKK organization”, the militant Kurdistan Workers’ Party, and “committing a crime on behalf of an illegal organization without being a member of the organization” according to article 7/2 of the Anti-Terror Law (TMK) and article 220/6 of the Turkish Criminal Law (TCK) respectively. Un-detained defendant Tunç is tried at the Diyarbakır 4th High Criminal Court. At the hearing on 30 September, his joint attorneys claimed that his speech should be evaluated within the boundaries of freedom of expression and requested their client’s acquittal. The lawyers presented the copy of a letter from the Scandinavian group of the PEN Writers Association to the court. The group had addressed Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in regard to the prosecution of Tunç. 363 intellectuals came together in the “Initiative for Solidarity with Ferhat Tunç” They managed to gather more than one thousand signatures for their request to drop the case. The court adjourned the case to 4 November in order to complete missing documents in the file.

BDP member Demirtaş received 10-month prison sentence: On 28 September, the Co-chair of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP)Selahattin Demirtaş, was convicted of “propaganda for an illegal organization” and received a ten-month prison sentence. Demirtaş, the then Diyarbakır branch president of the Human Rights Foundation, was punished for a statement he made about the detention conditions of Abdullah Öcalan, leader of the militant Kurdistan Workers Party. Öcalan is imprisoned on Imrali Island in the Sea of Marmara since 1999. In the hearing on 28 September, the Diyarbakır High Criminal Court initially handed down a one-year prison sentence which was then mitigated to ten months. The pronouncement of judgement was postponed. Additionally, the court decided for the suspension of the sentence on probation of five years. Demirtaş did not attend the hearing and was presented by his lawyer Meral Danış Beştaş. Beştaş claimed that her client’s statement should be evaluated within the scope of freedom of thought and expression. Demirtaş had previously been convicted of “praising crime and a criminal” and received a prison sentence of one year and three months. The Court of Appeal reversed the decision and requested Demirtaş’ prosecution over charges of “propaganda for an illegal organization”. Despite Demirtaş’ parliamentary immunity, the Court of Appeals decreed for the continuation of the trial under terror charges. The court referred to Article 14 of the Constitution stipulating, “None of the rights and freedoms embodied in the Constitution shall be exercised with the aim of violating the indivisible integrity of the state with its territory and nation, and endangering the existence of the democratic and secular order of the Turkish Republic based upon human rights”. Lawyer Beştaş criticized the decision: “This is a disgrace of the law. Taking into consideration the political party of the defendant, the people and the thoughts he represented and his thoughts on the Kurdish question, this decision is not based on any legal argument”. Demirtaş was prosecuted on the grounds of conveying certain messages in the press release entitled “Tension created by war and isolation increased the number of violations” broadcasted on Roj TV on 7 February 2003.

“Propaganda” trial against journalist Özer: Aziz Özer, editorial manager of the Güney magazine, is indicted for “spreading propaganda for the PKK organization”, the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party. As reported on 27 September, the charges are based on the article entitled “The story of an incredible three-day resistance” written by Mehmet Söğüt and a short picture story called “The Judge” by Meray Ülgen. The Public Prosecution of Mersin (eastern Mediterranean region) had carried out an investigation over both writers and editor Özer on the grounds of contents regarding the 51st issue of the magazine for January-February-March 2010. However, the file was sent to the Büyükçekmece Prosecution due to a decision on lack of jurisdiction and was eventually forwarded to the Istanbul Public Prosecution. As a result of the probe, the Istanbul Public Prosecutor, Hakan Karaali, opened a trial against Özer on 11 May according to Article 7/2 of the Anti-Terror Law. Özer has previously won cases against Turkey at the European Court of Human Rights regarding restrictions of freedom of expression. Now he faces imprisonment of up to 7.5 years once again on the grounds of the magazine writings. A caricature in the 98th issue of the magazine featured a grave stone with crescent and star and the name “Niyazi Martyr”. The caricature is also subject of the trial since it was assessed as an “implication” that a security official who died in conflicts with the PKK “died for nothing”, as “praise of force and violence” and “spreading propaganda for the PKK”. The first hearing is scheduled for 7 October.

44 cases against Taraf in one day: A total of 44 cases against Taraf newspaper employees were heard at the Kadıköy (Istanbul) 2nd High Criminal Court of First Instance on 10 December. Four new trials were opened on charges of “violating secrecy” and “insult via written messages”. General Publications Director Ahmet Altan said in his defence: “The prosecutor does either not read my writings at all or he is prejudiced”. His assistant Yasemin Çongar is sued on charges of “violating secrecy”; editorial manager Adnan Demir is charged with the “attempt to influence a fair trial”, “disclosure of visuals and audible material related to private life”, “violation of secrecy”, “praising crime and a criminal”, “not publishing a disclaimer” and “insulting the memory of Atatürk”. Journalist Neşe Düzel is charged with “praising crime and a criminal”, Markar Eseyan,  Melih Altınok, Mehmet Baransu, Burhan Ekinci, Fikret Karagöz and Bünyamin Demirkan stand accused of “violation of secrecy”, Yıldıray Oğur is alleged of “insulting the memory of Atatürk”, Şahin Bahar of “violating secrecy”, Tuncer Köseoğlu of “violation of secrecy” and “influencing the judiciary”, Rasim Ozan Kütahyalı of “insult”, Emre Uslu of the “attempt to influence a fair trial”, Bahar Kılıçgedik of “violation of secrecy”, the “attempt to influence a fair trial” and “insult via a written, visual or voice message”, Adnan Keskin of “insult” and “insult via a written, visual or voice message”, Nevzat Çiçek of “insult” and “insult via a written, visual or voice message” and Sibel Hürtaş of the “attempt to influence a fair trial”, “violation of secrecy” and “influencing the judiciary”.

“Ergenekon” trial generates hundreds of press cases: The Istanbul 11th High Criminal Court started the prosecution against Zaman newspaper reporter Büşra Erdal, Ankara correspondent Metin Arslan and responsible editor Hayri Beşer on 22 September. The journalists are tried on the grounds of news articles regarding decisions for the release of detained defendants of the “Ergenekon” and “Sledgehammer” Investigations. Judges of the Istanbul 9th High Criminal Court Yılmaz Alp and Tuncay Aslan filed a criminal complaint against the journalists by reason of their news about the decisions of release. Erdal, Arslan and Beşer are indicted under Article 6/1 of the Anti-Terror Law (TMY) on “identifying officials on anti-terror duties as targets for terrorist organizations”. They are facing imprisonment of between 1.5 and 4.5 years. The current case is based on Erdal’s news item entitled “The ones appointed in the HSYK crisis intervened – the Sledgehammer investigation is covered up” published on 2 April 2010 and the article “Mass releases were based on ‘pirate’ decree” dated 3 April 2010. The request for lack of jurisdiction submitted by Erdal’s lawyer Hasan Günaydın was dismissed by the court. After the identities of the defendants were confirmed, the indictment was read out prior to the defence speeches. Erdal put forward that she had not been able to prepare her defence since she recently graduated from the faculty of law and because of the high number of cases filed against her. She requested additional time for her defence. Her request was accepted and the case was adjourned to 2 February 2011. The court accepted the demand of complainant Yılmaz Alp’s lawyer to join the proceedings. It was furthermore decreed to send a notification to the Ankara High Criminal Court in order to take the statement of defendant Metin Arslan. Journalist Erdal has many cases pending against her under charges of “violating the secrecy of an investigation” and “attempting to influence a fair trial”. Erdal said, “We are tried at the Special Authority High Criminal Court for showing individuals as targets for terrorist organizations but it has not been clarified which terrorist organization the indictment refers to. The prosecutor in the hearing demanded to ask the prosecutor who prepared the indictment to clearly state which terrorist organization is meant. We also want to know this”. The Zaman newspaper reported that the number of investigations launched by the Ministry of Justice increased from 4,139 in November 2009 to a current total number of more than 5,000 throughout the past six months. More than 3,500 of these investigations were opened against Zaman, Taraf, Bugün, Yeni Şafak, Star and Vakit newspapers. According to Zaman, about 2,000 investigations resulted in trials.

Kurdish politician Tuğluk tried for 12 speeches: Kurdish politician Aysel Tuğluk, former co-chair of the banned Democratic Society Party (DTP), is tried over charges of “spreading propaganda for the PPK organization” before the Diyarbakır 4th High Criminal Court. The charges stem from a total of twelve different speeches delivered by Tuğluk. The case was adjourned to 16 December 2010Nejdet Atalay, Mayor of Batman, faces imprisonment of up to five months on the grounds of speaking Kurdish on 17 February 2009 in the run-up to the local elections. Atalay is a detained defendant of the KCK case. His lawyer Mustafa Yıldız put forward that the Kurdish speech of his client cannot be accounted for as a crime in the course of the amendment of the Elections Law. Hence, he claimed that Atalay could not be punished for his speech made at the opening of an election office. The Kurtalan Criminal Court of First Instance postponed the case to 2 November.

Tried and acquitted in photo trial: On 23 September, it was reported that Haber Türk newspaper reporter Cemal Doğan and Hürriyet newspaper photo reporter Nurettin Kurt were acquitted in the case regarding their coverage of an alleged assassination plot against Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç. They had published the picture of Colonel E.Y.B. on his way to the prosecution to give his statement in the context of the assassination plot. The trial was opened upon the complaint of prosecutor Mustafa Bilgili

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