In March, journalists in Turkey once again spent much of their time at courthouses. During the month, at least 79 journalists appeared before a judge at various trials in 9 provinces.
According to Press In Arrest data, at least three journalists were detained in March, while one journalist was denied entry to Turkey.
In 14 of the 35 hearings held in the month of March, the courts reached a verdict. 5 journalists were acquitted. A trial involving 2 journalists was suspended. A journalist’s case was dismissed by the court. 8 journalists were sentenced to a total of 24 years, 3 months in prison, and administrative fines totaling 14 thousand 80 TL.
In March, various judges in criminal courts of peace ruled to ban and delete dozens of online news stories. Upon a court verdict obtained by Serhat Albayrak, Press in Arrest’s article titled “Ceren Sözeri - Serhat Albayrak / Compensation Lawsuit”, previously accessible at http://pressinarrest.com/davalar/119/, was also banned. The court ruled that the article shall be deleted.
According to Press In Arrest figures, 41 journalists are behind bars, either convicted or pending trial. Press In Arrest’s database features data on 21 of these journalists.
Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) imposed administrative fines against Halk TV and TELE 1.
In March, journalists once again faced assaults and threats.
3 Journalists were Detained and One Journalist was Deported
A journalist with Mezopotamya Agency, Zekeriya Gözüpek was detained on his way to Van. The police released Gözüpek after receiving his statement. It was later revealed that Diyarbakır Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office was drafting an indictment against Gözüpek.
Journalist and writer Enver Aysever was detained upon an arrest warrant issued by Çerkezköy Criminal Court of Peace. Aysever was released after giving a statement at the prosecutor’s office. Aysever is being investigated for “inciting the public to hatred and enmity”.
French journalist Sylv Mercadier was detained at İstanbul Sabiha Gökçen Airport, where she arrived to follow the Newroz celebrations in Diyarbakır. Denied entry to Turkey, journalist Mercadier was deported aboard an airplane bound for Paris. Mercadier was given an Unacceptable Passenger Information Form, which stated that she was being deported since her entry to Turkey was considered to be objectionable.
A reporter with Artı Gerçek, Yağmur Kaya was detained while following the student protests against the appointment of Melih Bulu as the president of Boğaziçi University with a presidential decree. Kaya was released on the same day.
On March 1-31, 2021, in 35 trials held in 9 cities (İstanbul, Diyarbakır, Ankara, Gaziantep, Muğla, Van, Batman, Kars and Ağrı), at least 79 journalists appeared before a judge. 25 of the journalists standing trial were women. The courts reached verdicts of dismissal, suspension, acquittal, prison sentence or administrative fine in 13 of these trials.
Journalist Ali Ergin Demirhan was fined 7 thousand TL in a trial filed for allegedly “insulting the President” with news articles published on Sendika.Org.
A 20 thousand TL lawsuit for non-pecuniary damages filed against Cumhuriyet newspaper’s reporter Hazal Ocak by Gaziantep Şahinbey Municipality was dismissed by Gaziantep 6. Civil Court of First Instance.
A court ruled to suspend the trial where journalists Hayri Demir and Sibel Hürtaş were charged with “spreading propaganda for a terror organization” and “inciting the public to hatred and enmity”.
Journalist Oktay Candemir was acquitted in the trial where he was charged with “insulting the President”, as Van 3. Criminal Court of First Instance ruled that the elements of crime did not materialize.
In the so-called “MİT (National Intelligence Organization) Conspiracy Trial” concerning the İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office’s interrogation of MİT Undersecretary Hakan Fidan and other MİT officials on February 7, 2012, an ex-reporter of Radikal Newspaper and HaberTürk TV, Mustafa Gökkılıç -already imprisoned pending trial- was sentenced to 8 years and 4 months in prison “for membership of the armed terror organization FETÖ” and “violating the confidentiality of an investigation”. Gökkılıç was released from prison.
Journalist Fatih Portakal was acquitted in a trial at Istanbul 46. Criminal Court of First Instance for allegedly violating Article 74 of the Banking Law and “insulting the President” in a Twitter message.
Journalist Müyesser Yıldız was sentenced to 3 years and 7 months in prison by Ankara 26. High Criminal Court for “revealing confidential information regarding the state’s security and political interests”.
Journalist İsmail Dükel was sentenced to 1 year, 15 days by Ankara 26. High Criminal Court for “revealing confidential information regarding the state’s security and political interests”.
Journalist Hakan Aygün was sentenced to 7 years, 15 days by Bodrum 3. Criminal Court of Peace for “blasphemy” in a social media post, yet the court deferred the announcement of the sentence.
Journalists Seyhan Avşar and Necdet Önemli were acquitted by İstanbul 29. High Criminal Court in a trial for “targeting individuals who took part in anti-terrorism efforts”.
Journalist Arif Aslan was acquitted from the charge of “membership of a terror organization” by Van 5. High Criminal Court.
Diyarbakır 10. High Criminal Court acquitted journalist Perihan Kaya from the charge of “membership of an armed terror organization” but sentenced her to one year, three months in prison for “spreading propaganda for a terror organization”.
Journalist Nagehan Alçı was sentenced to 7 thousand 80 TL for “insulting a public official on duty”.
FOX TV’s ex-News Manager Ercan Gün was sentenced to 10 years in prison for “membership of the armed terror organization FETÖ” at the trial regarding the murder of Agos Newspaper’s Editor-in-Chief, Hrant Dink.
In the trial against the now shuttered Özgürlükçü Demokrasi newspaper, the district court had sentenced journalists Hicran Ürün, Mehmet Ali Çelebi, Reyhan Hacıoğlu and İshak Yasul to 12 years, 10 months and 15 days in prison. The court of appeal overturned this verdict and the retrial will begin at Istanbul 23. High Criminal Court.
Journalist Levent Gültekin was attacked by a mob prior to joining a TV program. Bakırköy Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office initiated an investigation into the attack.
In Van, the police prevented journalists from interviewing HDP member Murat Sarısaç on the street, claiming that it was against the law.
Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) imposed administrative fines on the channels Halk TV and TELE 1, for allegedly broadcasting programs in violation of Law no. 6112 on the Establishment and Broadcasting Services of Radios and Televisions.
According to data by Press In Arrest, 41 journalists are in prison as either convicts or pending trial. Press In Arrest currently has the files of 21 journalists in prison. We are currently working to obtain the files of the remaining 20 journalists.
Adnan Bilen, Cemil Uğur, Nazan Sala and Şehriban Abi were released from prison in the hearing held on April 1, 2021 at Van 5. High Criminal Court.
Here are the Journalists Behind Bars:
Ali Ahmet Böken
Hanım Büşra Erdal
Mustafa Erkan Acar
İbrahim Halil Öztürkeri
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