MEDIA FREEDOM
Turkey: Press freedom violations September 2019
21 Oct 2019
BY INDEX ON CENSORSHIP

Index on Censorship’s Monitoring and Advocating for Media Freedom project tracks press freedom violations in five countries: Azerbaijan, Belarus, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine. Learn more.

9 Incidents

Evrensel Daily faces a fine of 200,000 Turkish lira

Evrensel Daily is being sued for 200,000 Turkish lira worth of compensation

27 September 2019 – Evrensel Daily has been sued for compensation by Serhat Albayrak, the head of one of Turkey’s largest media groups and the brother of Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak, who is also President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s son-in-law.

Serhat Albayrak is seeking 200,000 Turkish lira (nearly £27,000) in non-pecuniary damages over an article published in the newspaper on 7 April 2019. The article, “AKP’ye kim oy kaybettirdi?” (“Who is responsible for the slide in AKP’s vote?”), is alleged to have been written by Ceren Sözeri, a respected academic and media ethics lecturer.

The trial is due to begin on 4 March 2020 at the Istanbul Commercial Court of First Instance.

Link(s):

https://www.evrensel.net/haber/387636/serhat-albayrak-evrensele-200-bin-tllik-tazminat-davasi-acti

http://bianet.org/english/media/213595-serhat-albayrak-sues-daily-evrensel-demands-200-thousand-liras-for-damages

https://t24.com.tr/haber/serhat-albayrak-tan-evrensel-gazetesine-200-bin-liralik-tazminat-davasi,841094

Categories: Criminal Charges / Fines / Sentences

Source of violation: Court / Judicial

Two former Samanyolu TV staff members arrested 

17 September 2019 – Two former producers for the closed down TV station Samanyolu were arrested in Ankara, Anadolu Agency reported. An arrest warrant has been issued for a third former producer.

The warrants for their arrest were issued as part of an ongoing criminal investigation launched by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office against former employees of Samanyolu TV’s Ankara bureau on alleged links to “FETÖ/PDY” (Fethullahist Terrorist Organization/Parallel State Structure).

Link(s):

https://www.aa.com.tr/tr/turkiye/samanyolu-tvnin-eski-calisanlarina-feto-operasyonu/1586937

https://www.cnnturk.com/turkiye/samanyolu-tvnin-eski-calisanlarina-feto-operasyonu

https://www.medyaradar.com/samanyolu-tvnin-eski-calisanlarina-operasyon-haberi-2014162

Categories: Arrest / Detention / Interrogation

Source of violation: Police / State security

Local chair of Journalist Association in Rize attacked

17 September 2019 – Gençağa Karafazlı, the local chairperson of Turkey’s Contemporary Journalists Association’s (ÇGD) branch in the Black Sea city of Rize, Evrensel reported.

Karafazlı was in a café in Rize when he was shot in the leg. The assailant dropped his gun and fled the scene in a taxi. Karafazlı subsequently was hospitalized.

Link(s):

https://www.evrensel.net/haber/387044/gazeteci-gencaga-karafazli-silahli-saldiriya-ugradi

http://gazetekarinca.com/2019/09/rizede-gazeteci-gencaga-karafazliya-silahli-saldiri/

https://www.haberturk.com/rize-haberleri/71914813-rizede-gazeteciye-silahli-saldiri

Categories: Physical Assault / Injury

Source of violation: Unknown

Former Taraf reporter Hüseyin Özkaya sentenced to 7 years in prison

17 September 2019 – Hüseyin Özkaya, a former reporter for the closed-down newspaper Taraf, was convicted of “membership in a terrorist organization”, Anadolu Agency reported. Özkaya was sentenced to 7 years and 6 months in prison by the 16th High Criminal Court of Ankara.

The indictment alleged that Özkaya used the encrypted messaging service ByLock, which Turkish authorities consider to be the primary communication tool between members of the Gülen movement. He was also accused of having deposited cash in Bank Asya, a bank considered to be run by the Gülen movement and where holding a deposit account has been widely used as evidence for the charge of membership in a terrorist organization.

 Link(s):

https://www.evrensel.net/haber/387019/taraf-gazetesi-muhabiri-huseyin-ozkayaya-7-5-yil-hapis-cezasi

Categories: Criminal Charges / Fines / Sentences

Source of violation: Court / Judicial

Veteran journalist Uğur Dündar sentenced to “reading books”

12 September 2019 – Veteran journalist Uğur Dündar was convicted of “insulting a public official” by a court in Istanbul over an article he wrote in 2014, online news website Bianet reported.

Journalist Uğur Dündar sentenced to “reading books”

The 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance of Küçükçekmece found Dündar guilty of “insulting” former Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım and handed down the journalist a prison sentence of 11 months and 20 days. The court did not defer the verdict. However, taking into account Dündar’s “age, personality, his social and financial status,” the court ruled to give an alternative sentence in the form of reading books and/or scholarly articles about “crimes against honor” at least two hours every week at university libraries for a period of five months and 25 days.

This was the retrial of a 2015 case, where the same court had sentenced Dündar to 11 months and 20 days on the “insult” charge. That ruling was later overturned by the Supreme Court of Appeals, which ordered a retrial.

Link(s):

http://m.bianet.org/bianet/ifade-ozgurlugu/212926-mahkemeden-hakaret-karari-ugur-dundar-haftada-2-saat-kitap-okuyacak

https://www.sozcu.com.tr/2019/yazarlar/ugur-dundar/kitap-okuma-cezasi-5331190/

http://www.diken.com.tr/ugur-dundara-kitap-okuma-cezasi/

Categories: Criminal Charges / Fines / Sentences

Source of violation: Court / Judicial

Journalist Oktay Candemir faces investigation over social media post

12 September 2019 – The Office of the Chief Public Prosecutor of Van has launched a criminal investigation against journalist Oktay Candemir on the allegation of “insulting the president,” Mezopotamya news agency reported. The accusations against Candemir are based on a social media post in which he shared photos of President Erdoğan and a comment.

Candemir recently gave his statement to a prosecutor in Van as part of the investigation.

Link(s):

http://mezopotamyaajansi20.com/tum-haberler/content/view/68974

https://www.gazeteduvar.com.tr/gundem/2019/09/13/gazeteci-candemire-cumhurbaskanina-hakaret-davasi/

Categories: Criminal Charges / Fines / Sentences

Source of violation: Court / Judicial

Evrensel’s former managing editor fined

12 September 2019 – Cem Şimşek, the former responsible managing editor of Evrensel daily, was sentenced to 41,666 Turkish Lira (around $ 7,300) for “failure to properly publish a retraction” on an article about the Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak, Evrensel reported.

The 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance of Bakırköy in Istanbul acquitted Şimşek of the charge of “insulting a public official” stemming from the article published in the newspaper in July 2018. However, the court fined both Şimşek and the newspaper’s owner, Cemal Dursun, for using “retraction” as title instead of title of the retraction itself, which said “Our response to daily Evrensel’s unsubstantial article on Berat Albayrak.” Berat Albayrak is also the son-in-law of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Link(s):

https://www.evrensel.net/haber/386645/evrensele-yayinladigi-tekzipten-41-bin-lira-para-cezasi

https://gazetekarinca.com/2019/09/gazeteci-cem-simseke-hem-para-cezasi-hem-de-beraat/

https://www.gazeteduvar.com.tr/gundem/2019/09/12/albayrak-tekzibinin-tekziptir-basligiyla-yayinlanmasina-ceza-verildi/

Categories: Criminal Charges / Fines / Sentences

Source of violation: Court / Judicial

Jin News reporter Melike Aydın given 15-month jail sentence

9 September 2019 – Jin News reporter Melike Aydın was sentenced to 15 months in prison on the charge of “disseminating propaganda for a terrorist organization,” online news website Gazete Karınca reported.

Aydın was facing a trial over a social media post from 2006. The Bayraklı 20th High Criminal Court in Izmir, which oversaw the trial, deferred Aydın’s sentence.

Link(s):

https://gazetekarinca.com/2019/09/gazeteci-melike-aydina-1-yil-3-ay-hapis-cezasi149717/

https://t24.com.tr/haber/gazeteci-melike-aydin-a-1-yil-3-ay-hapis-cezasi-verildi,838765

https://www.evrensel.net/haber/386415/jinnews-muhabiri-melike-aydina-1-yil-3-ay-hapis-cezasi

Categories: Criminal Charges / Fines / Sentences

Source of violation: Court / Judicial

Turkey’s media watchdog fines broadcaster

5 September 2019 – The Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) has fined private broadcaster TV5 over an interview with Etyen Mahçupyan, a journalist and ex-advisor of former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, Susma platform reported. During the broadcast, Mahçupyan said an operation was carried out against Davutoğlu supporters within media through Serhat Albayrak, the owner of the biggest pro-government media group Turkuaz and brother of Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak. The latter is also the son-in-law of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The operation had resulted in Serhat Albayrak becoming the most influential media tycoon of the country, Mahçupyan had added.

The media watchdog argued that Mahçupyan’s claims constituted a “defamation, blacklisting and breach of privacy.” “RTÜK concluded that [Mahçupyan’s statements] went beyond the boundaries of criticism and contained words that are degrading, defamatory and accusatory,” RTÜK said.

TV5, which only broadcasts on the Internet and private digital platforms, said it would appeal the decision. After serving as a prime minister for more than a year between 2015 and 2016, Davutoğlu fell off with the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). He was eventually expelled from the party on September 2019.

Link(s):

http://susma24.com/rtukten-tv5e-ceza/

https://t24.com.tr/haber/tv-5-e-pelikan-cezasi-2-defa-daha-pelikan-derse-yayin-lisansi-iptal-edilecek,838201

http://www.cumhuriyet.com.tr/haber/siyaset/1566615/TV5_te_Etyen_Mahcupyan_in__Pelikan__cikisina_RTUK_cezasi.html

Categories: Criminal Charges / Fines / Sentences

Source of violation: Government / State Agency / Public official(s) / Political party

In a country that keeps its media under a dome, Belarus’s independent journalists face mounting fines

On the surface, Belarus is one of the quieter places for journalists – one rarely hears about gruesome violations, physical assaults or murders of media workers in this post-Soviet country. But a lack of horror stories does not mean there is a liberal policy towards the media. In 2017, Belarus scored 83 points out of [...]

Organisations call on Russia to end targeting of journalists covering Moscow protests

A coalition of eight media freedom and journalists’ organisations are calling on Russian authorities to immediately stop the harassment of journalists who have been covering the recent protests in Moscow.

Trolls and insults: Azerbaijan’s exiled media increasingly under fire

After the total capture of the media environment inside the country, the government of Ilham Aliyev has turned its attention to silencing critics in exile.

Russia: As space for independent media shrinks, journalists find themselves under increasing threats of physical violence

This report looks at 175 incidents that Index on Censorship’s Monitoring and Advocating for Media Freedom project classified as threats, limitations or violations of press freedom in Russia between 1 February 2019 and 30 April 2019.

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