Six journalists spent the year 2010 in jail because of their writings, 24 journalists were incarcerated due to operations in the context of major investigations such as “Ergenekon”, the “KCK trial”, the “Revolutionary Headquarters case” or the “Sledgehammer” investigation.
Compared to 2009, the number of convicts under the Anti-Terror Law (TMY) multiplied by six in 2010.
The sum of fines based on convictions of Turkey before the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) rose from TL 472,392 (€ approx. 236,000) in the previous year to 547,300 (€ 274,000) in 2010.
At least 2000 trials were supposedly opened on charges of “violation of confidentiality” and the “attempt to influence a fair trial”. A significant number of these law suits were filed against the newspapers Zaman, Taraf, Bugün, Yeni Şafak, Star and Vakit.
The 2010 Media Monitoring Report by the Independent Communication Network (BİA) Media Monitoring Desk revealed that a total of 220 people, 104 of whom were journalists, were tried in the scope of procedures related to freedom of expression and freedom of thought.
The BİA Media Monitoring Report also points to the government’s approach to the Kurdish question and to the oppression of people who criticized judicial applications within various investigations, who spoke up against violations of human rights and advocated for the right to conscientious objection.
The report includes the struggles of 777 people summarized on 56 pages under the headings “killed journalists”, “attacks and threats”, “arrests and detentions”, “trials related to press freedom and freedom of expression”, “corrections and legal redress”, “European Court of Human Rights”, “reactions to censorship” and “RTÜK applications”.
Six journalists were imprisoned on the grounds of their published writings or books in 2010: Vedat Kurşun and Ozan Kılınç as former Chief Editors of Azadiya Welat newspaper; Berivan Eker, the former Editorial Manager of the Renge Heviya Jine (‘the colour of the women’ hope’) magazine; Bedri Adanır, concessionaire of Aram Publishing and official of the Hawar newspaper; Barış Açıkel, Editor-in-Chief of the İşçi Köylü (‘Worker Peasant’) newspaper; and Nevin Berkatş, writer of the Proletarian Revolutionary Stance (‘Proleterce Devrimci Duruş’) newspaper. In 2009, two journalists were imprisoned because of their writings.
24 journalists were detained but it is still not clear yet whether they are going to be prosecuted because of their journalistic activities. 18 journalists were in the same situation in the previous year.
2010 saw many convictions under the TMY. 149 defendants were tried under the Anti-Terror Act, 33 of whom were sentenced to 365 years and three months in prison and to monetary fines of TL 49,200 (€25,000) in total. 14 people were acquitted.
In 2009, 23 people received prison terms of 58 years and monetary fines of TL 9,740 in total in the same context.
14 people including eleven journalists were sentenced to imprisonment of a total of eleven years, four months and 24 days and monetary fines summing up to TL 23,780 (€12 890) under allegations of “insult” in 2010. 47 people are facing prison terms of 131 years, nine months and 24 days in pending trials besides monetary fines of TL 23,800 (€ 12,900) in total.
27 journalists were attacked or were protested by throwing eggs at them in 2010. Ten journalists were imprisoned. The internet site of the Armenian Agos newspaper was hacked and the building of the Doğan Media Group was attacked.
In 2009, 27 journalists and the Bizim Kocaeli (‘Our Kocaeli’) newspaper became subjects of attacks. Six journalists received threats.
In 2010, 28 people, among them 20 journalists, were facing compensation claims worth TL 1,835,502 (€ 900,000) under allegations of an “attack on personal rights”. The courts handed down monetary fines of TL 983,500 (€ 490,000) in compensation to nine defendants.
Compared to the previous year, 101 people (34 journalists) were facing imprisonment of 98 years and five days and monetary fines and compensation claims amounting to TL 1,408,680 (€700,000) altogether.
Six journalists among a total of 70 people were tried on charges of “praising crime and a criminal” according to Article 215 TCK. They received monetary fines of TL 105,000 (€52,000) in total. In 2009, 68 people stood trial under the same allegations.
Four defendants were acquitted of charges of “inciting the public to hatred and hostility” (TCK 216) in 2010, one trial is still pending. In the previous year, 21 people were tried under Article 216, six of them journalists. 13 defendants, including three journalists, were sentenced to prison terms of 16 years and seven months.
At least 16 journalists were facing a 4.5-year prison threat on charges of the “attempt to influence a fair trial” (TCK 288) on the grounds of their news items and other writings.
Charges of “violation the confidentiality of an investigation” (TCK 285) were pressed against 21 journalists who were facing imprisonment of 4.5 years. At least two people were being tried under the “Atatürk Protection Law”.
Twelve people were prosecuted on charges of “insults to the Turkish nation” (TCK 301, former Article 159). This is a decrease by two thirds compared with 37 defendants in 2009.
Imprisonment of eight months each was the verdict for three defendants sued on the grounds of “alienating the public from military service” (TCK 318).
One publisher and one interpreter were facing charges of “publishing obscenity” (TCK 226/7) based on three different books. Both defendants were acquitted.
Fines handed down to Turkey by the European Court of Human Rights reached a new high at € 281,100 corresponding to applications related to 41 people and three broadcasts.
This is again an increase compared to monetary fines of TL 472,392 (€ 236,000) in total upon the applications of 44 people and Özgür Radio in 2009 and TL 183,810 (€ 91,000) in 2008. (EÖ-EÇ/VK)