Journalists Faruk Bostan, Bülent Karagöz jailed pending trial; prosecutor issues new indictment against Osman Kavala, top court postpones judgment; Demokrat Haber reporter Selda Manduz arrested in Kars; journalist Nuri Akman faces arrest warrant; three jailed in “İsimsizler” probe
Journalist Hakkı Boltan freed after two days in custody
Journalist Hakkı Boltan, the former spokesperson of the Free Journalists Initiative (ÖGİ), was arrested on 30 September 2020 in Diyarbakır alongside provincial executives of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and union members.
It became clear later that they were arrested as part of an investigation conducted by the Diyarbakır Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office against the Democratic Society Congress (DTK). Boltan and 12 others were brought to the Diyarbakır Courthouse on 2 October. Boltan was referred to a criminal judgeship of peace for imprisonment pending trial. He was freed by the judgeship under judicial control measures in the form of reporting to the police station twice a month and a ban on traveling abroad.
Journalist Ayşenur Arslan summoned to courthouse
Journalist Ayşenur Arslan was summoned to the courthouse on 2 October 2020 for her statement to be taken as a “suspect” in an investigation conducted by the press crimes investigation bureau under the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office. Arslan said she was not informed about the details of the investigation.
Journalist Kenan Kırkaya’s trial adjourned
The 10th hearing in a trial where journalist Kenan Kırkaya is charged with “membership of a terrorist organization” took place on 2 October 2020 at Ankara’s 14th High Criminal Court. Kırkaya did not attend the hearing. The court adjourned the trial until 24 November 2020 for Kırkaya’s co-defendants to prepare their defense statements in response to the prosecutor’s final opinion.
Trial of former Özgür Gündem editors adjourned until December
The 17th hearing in the trial of former Özgür Gündem Co-Editor-in-Chief Hüseyin Aykol and Responsible Editor Reyhan Çapan on the charges of “insulting the president” and “terrorism propaganda” took place on 1 October 2020 at Istanbul’s 13th High Criminal Court.
Aykol and Çapan were represented in court by their lawyer Özcan Kılıç. Ruling to wait for the execution of the arrest warrants for Kemal Yakut and Hasan Başak, the court adjourned the trial until 3 December 2020.
The trial was launched over a news article published in September 2015 in Özgür Gündem. Lawyer Eren Keskin, whose name was symbolically featured as co-editor-in-chief on the newspaper’s masthead, was among the defendants in the initial case file, but her file was later separated to be merged with another trial against her.
Şebnem Korur Fincancı’s trial adjourned
Professor Şebnem Korur Fincancı’s trial on the charge of “insulting the president” was set to resume on 1 October 2020 at the Anadolu 42nd Criminal Court of First Instance. Fincancı and her lawyers submitted letters of excuse to the court, which postponed the hearing until 16 February 2021. Fincancı, the president of the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TİHV) and a columnist for Evrensel daily, is on trial over a social media post she shared in 2013, during Turkey’s Gezi Park protests.
Journalist Selda Manduz arrested in Kars
Selda Manduz, a reporter for the news portal Demokrat Haber, was arrested on 1 October 2020 in the eastern province of Kars in a police raid on her home. Manduz was among 21 people arrested in coordinated raids on the allegation of “membership of a terrorist organization.” Kars Co-Mayor Şevin Alaca was also among those arrested. They are facing a four-day custody period and a confidentiality order has been imposed on the investigation file.
Access to MA, Sendika.org, Yeni Demokrasi websites blocked
Access to the websites of Mezopotamya news agency (MA) and the news portals Sendika.org and Yeni Demokrasi was blocked on 30 September 2020 by an order of the 2nd Criminal Judgeship of Peace of Gaziantep.
The access ban on Sendika.org has not been lifted despite two separate judgments by the Constitutional Court, which held that the access ban was in violation of freedom of expression. The latest ruling marks the 63rd access ban on Sendika.org, and the seventh for Yeni Demokrasi.
Broadcasting watchdog RTÜK fines 5 TV channels
The Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) fined five TV channels (Tele1, Atv, Fox TV, Kanal D and Show TV) on 30 September 2020.
Tele 1 was given a maximum fine over comments about the curriculum of religious “imam hatip” schools by theologian Cemil Kılıç during an episode of the program “Karanlıktan Aydınlığa” on the grounds that Kılıç’s commentary was against Article 8/1 of Law No. 6112: “Media services shall not be contrary to human dignity and the principle of respect to privacy, shall not include disgracing, degrading or defamatory expressions against persons or organizations beyond the limits of criticism.”
Kanal D was fined on the grounds that dialogues in the series “Yeni Hayat” “insulted Prophet Adam”; Fox TV was fined on the grounds that the series “Yasak Elma” “insulted religious values” and Show TV was fined over “scenes of violence” in the show “Arıza.”
Singer Hozan Cane released after 2 years behind bars
Kurdish-German singer Saide İnaç, a.k.a. Hozan Cane, who was jailed in 2018, was released from the Bakırköy Prison on 30 September 2020.
Her lawyer Nevroz Akalan said Hozan Cane was imposed a ban on traveling abroad. Akalan said the court overseeing Cane’s retrial ruled for her release on the grounds that the singer’s lengthy detention was disproportionate.
Cane was jailed in 2018 in Edirne and was sentenced to 6 years and 3 months in prison in November 2018 on the charge of “membership of a terrorist organization.” Cane’s conviction was later overturned and her retrial will resume on 20 October 2020 in Edirne.
Arrest warrant issued for journalist Nuri Akman
The third hearing in the retrial of journalist Nuri Akman took place on 30 September 2020 at the 2nd High Criminal Court of Malatya. The court ruled to issue an arrest warrant for Akman on the grounds that his defense statement has not been taken and adjourned the trial until 12 November 2020.
Akman was sentenced to 6 years and 3 months in prison for “membership of a terrorist organization” over his news coverage and his social media posts. His sentence was overturned by a regional court of appeals, which ruled for a retrial.
Top court postpones Osman Kavala judgment as prosecutor issues new indictment
The First Section of the Constitutional Court ruled on 29 September 2020 to postpone its review of jailed businessperson and civil society figure Osman Kavala’s application as the prosecutor conducting the investigation against Kavala issued an indictment at the last minute. Saying the new indictment should also be reviewed along with Kavala’s application, the top court postponed its review until a later date.
Kavala, who was first jailed in November 2017, was acquitted and released in the “Gezi Park trial” in February. Immediately following his release, Kavala was re-arrested and jailed as part of a “coup” investigation. Currently he is in detention on remand on “espionage” allegation as part of that investigation.
The new indictment against Kavala was submitted to the 36th High Criminal Court of Istanbul.
Two journalists jailed over coverage of sexual assault claims
Local news portal Kocaeli Halk Gazetesi owner Faruk Bostan and managing editor Bülent Karagöz were jailed pending trial on 28 September 2020 for “libel” over the news portal’s coverage of allegations of a sexual assault case in the Kartepe district.
Persons whose names were cited in the 26 September news story filed a complaint against Bostan and Karagöz. On 28 September, both journalists were taken to the Kocaeli Police Department for questioning. They were brought to the Kocaeli Courthouse the same day, where they were eventually jailed pending trial by a criminal judgeship of peace.
Three people arrested in “İsimsizler” investigation jailed
Eighteen people arrested on 25 September 2020 as part of an investigation against the social media movement “İsimsizler” were brought to the Istanbul Courthouse on 28 September, after spending three days in custody. Writer and activist Temel Demirer and lawyer Tamer Doğan were among those arrested.
Demirer and 10 others were released after giving their statements to a prosecutor, while seven others were referred to a criminal judgeship of peace. Four of them were released under a ban on traveling abroad while three people, Şehmus Kavak, Misli Cihan Şenleten and Özgür Doğuş Erhan, were jailed pending trial on the charge of “insulting the president.”
Journalist Zeynep Kuray, who also faced an arrest warrant as part of the investigation, reported to the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office on 30 September to give her statement. After hearing Kuray’s statement, the prosecutor dropped the charges against the journalist.
Journalist Merdan Yanardağ faces investigation
Tele 1 Editor-in-Chief Merdan Yanardağ was summoned to the courthouse to give his statement as part of an investigation over news coverage of Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor Yüksel Kocaman, who visited President Erdoğan immediately after his wedding ceremony. Yanardağ went to the Anadolu Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office on 28 September to give his statement. He was referred to a criminal judgeship of peace, which ruled to release the journalist under judicial control measures and an international travel ban.
Journalist Durket Süren’s trial adjourned until January
The fourth hearing in the trial of journalist Durket Süren on charges of “aiding a terrorist organization” and “terrorism propaganda” took place on 28 September 2020 at the 11th High Criminal Court of Diyarbakır. Süren is on trial over her Twitter posts and on the allegation that she sold banned issues of Azadiya Welat and Özgür Gündem newspapers.
Ruling to wait for the completion of the expert report on the digital equipment confiscated from Süren, the court adjourned the trial until 25 January 2021.
Musician Veysi Ermiş arrested over his social media posts
Veysi Ermiş, a musician with the Mesopotamia Cultural Center (MKM), was arrested on 27 September in Istanbul in an early morning police raid on his home. Ermiş was arrested on the allegation of “terrorism propaganda” as part of an investigation over his social media posts in which he shared his songs in Kurdish. He was released the same day after giving his statement.
Newspaper distributor Kemal Subaşı briefly detained
Kemal Subaşı, a Şanlıurfa-based distributor for Yeni Yaşam daily and the Kurdish-language newspaper Xwebûn, was taken into custody on 27 September. Alleging that the newspapers Subaşı distributed were “banned,” police took him to the Şanlıurfa Police Department. Subaşı was freed after questioning.