Turkish injustice: Scores of journalists, rights defenders facing trial

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Journalists Facing Trial in Turkey

This article was originally posted at platform24.org.

Journalists, writers and human rights defenders will appear before judges in several court hearings scheduled for the coming days.

P24 will be following the upcoming hearings from the courtrooms and live tweeting the developments. Here is a list of the upcoming hearings:

Oct. 24: First court hearing for journalists in e-mail leak case

Six journalists, three of whom have been imprisoned since late December, will have their first day in court on October 24.

Former Diken news portal editor Tunca Öğreten, news editor of the shuttered DİHA news agency Ömer Çelik and BirGün employee Mahir Kanaat, DİHA reporter Metin Yoksu, ETHA news agency Responsible Managing Editor Derya Okatan and Yolculuk daily publisher Eray Sargın were first arrested on December 25 in police raids in an investigation into publication of leaked e-mails of Berat Albayrak, Turkey’s energy minister. After a record 24 days in police custody, a criminal judgeship of peace ordered Çelik, Tunca and Kanaat jailed pending trial while releasing Okatan, Sargın and Yoksu, with a travel ban.

The journalists face terrorism related charges as well as the charge of “disrupting or preventing an IT system, amending or destroying data.”

The hearing will take place at the Istanbul 29th High Criminal Court at Istanbul’s Çağlayan Courthouse.

Oct. 24: Murat Aksoy, Atilla Taş and others

The next hearing of a case where journalist Murat Aksoy, ex-singer and a columnist for the shuttered Meydan daily Atilla Taş, Türk Solu journal writer Gökçe Fırat Çulhaoğlu and 26 others face coup and terrorism charges will be held on the same day at the Istanbul 25th High Criminal Court.

Almost all of the defendants in the case are journalists from a variety of media outlets, some of which were closed down under the state of emergency. 23 of the 29 defendants are imprisoned awaiting further trial

The first hearing of the case where all of the 29 defendants face terrorism charges took place on March 27-31, at the end of which the court ruled to release 21 of the 26 defendants in pre-trial detention. But none was released after 13 defendants whose release was sought by the prosecutor were arrested as part of a new investigation – this time on coup charges – and eight others were detained upon a successful appeal from the prosecutor against their release. One of the 13 defendants who were arrested as part of the new coup investigation, Zaman editor Ali Akkuş, was released shortly after his arrest.

Two other journalists charged with coup, Bünyamin Köseli of Aksiyon weekly and Cihan Acar of Bugün newspaper, were released at the end of the first hearing on August 18.

The court also ruled to merge the coup trial with the earlier terrorism trial. The hearing on October 24 is the first session to take place after the two cases were merged.

Oct. 25: Human rights activists to appear in court

The ten human rights activists who were detained at a workshop on Istanbul’s Büyükada island in July will appear before a court for the first time on October 25.

Eight of the human rights defenders are still imprisoned. They will be tried along with Taner Kılıç, head of Amnesty International Turkey, who was detained earlier in another investigation.

The hearing will begin at 10 a.m. at the Çağlayan Courthouse. The Istanbul 35th High Criminal Court will hear the trial, but the session will take place in the courtroom for the Istanbul 14th High Criminal Court.

The rights activists face up to 10 years in jail on charges of “helping an armed organization” while Kılıç faces up to 15 years for “membership in the FETÖ terrorist organization.”

Idil Eser, the Director of Amnesty Turkey; İlknur Üstün from the Women’s Coalition; Günal Kurşun from the Human Rights Agenda Association;Nalan Erkem from Citizens’ Assembly; Özlem Dalkıran, also from Citizens’ Assembly; Veli Acu, from Human Rights Agenda Association; Şeyhmus Özbekli, lawyer Nejat Taştan; Association for Monitoring Equal Rights digital strategy consultant Ali Gharavi; and trainer and writer Peter Steudtner were detained on July 5. Taştan and Özbekli were later released on probation.

Oct. 25: Case into publication of MGK documents

October 25 is also the date for the next hearing of a case where former Taraf journalist Mehmet Baransu, who has been imprisoned since March 2015, and the former responsible managing editor of the shuttered daily, Murat Şevki Çoban are on trial on charges of acquiring and publishing state secrets in relation with a news story that claimed the Fethullah Gülen network was blacklisted by the country’s top security body at a National Security Council (MGK) meeting in 2004.

Baransu faces up to 50 years and six months while Çoban faces up to 31 years in prison.

The session will be heard by the Istanbul Anadolu 10th High Criminal Court.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/4″][vc_icon icon_fontawesome=”fa fa-times-circle” color=”black” background_style=”rounded” size=”xl” align=”right”][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”3/4″][vc_column_text]

Index on Censorship monitors press freedom in 42 European countries through its Mapping Media Freedom database.

Since 24 May 2014, Mapping Media Freedom’s team of correspondents have recorded and verified 3,597 violations against journalists and media outlets.

Index campaigns to protect journalists and media freedom. You can help us by submitting reports to Mapping Media Freedom.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Oct. 26: Özgür Gündem solidarity case

On October 26, 13 journalists and writers will appear before judges at the Istanbul 14th High Criminal Court in a case where they face terrorism related charges due to their role in a campaign of solidarity with the Özgür Gündem daily, which was later shuttered.

Journalists İhsan Çaralan, Fehim Işık, Ertuğrul Mavioğlu, Celal Başlangıç, Celalettin Can, Öncü Akgül, Hüseyin Aykol, Ömer Ağın, Dilşah Kocakaya, Mehmet Şirin Taşdemir, Veysel Kemer and Yüksel Oğuz, as well as the head of the press workers’ union DİSK Basın-İş, Faruk Eren, are defendants in the case.

Oct. 31: Fourth hearing in Cumhuriyet trial

On October 31, the fourth hearing of the Cumhuriyet trial will be held at the Istanbul 27th High Criminal Court.

A total of 20 defendants, including one Twitter user who is not a Cumhuriyet employee, are on trial in the case. Cumhuriyet Executive Board Chair Akın Atalay, Cumhuriyet Editor-in-Chief Murat Sabuncu, reporter Ahmet Şık and the employee of the newspaper’s accounting department Emre İper are currently imprisoned and so is the Twitter user, Ahmet Kemal Aydoğdu.

Oct. 31: Özgür Gündem main case

Again on October 31, the main Özgür Gündem trial will continue at the Istanbul 23rd High Criminal Court.

İnan Kızılkaya, the responsible managing editor of the shuttered daily who has been imprisoned for more than a year and Kemal Sancılı, the daily’s owner who has been in prison since January, writer Aslı Erdoğan, linguist Necmiye Alpay, journalist Bilir Kaya, publisher Ragıp Zarakolu, lawyer Eren Keskin and politician Filiz Koçali are the defendants in the case.

Nov. 1: Third hearing in Nedim Türfent’s trial

Another journalist who will appear in court in the coming days is Nedim Türfent, a reporter for the shuttered Dicle News Agency (DİHA).

Türfent, who has been imprisoned since May 13, is accused of “membership in a terrorist organization” and “terrorism propaganda.”

Türfent will appear before the judges at the Hakkâri 2. High Criminal Court for the third hearing of his case.

Nov. 2: First hearing in insult case against Perihan Mağden

Columnist Perihan Mağden will appear before a court in the first hearing of a trial where she is charged with “insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.”

The charge stems from an article published in April 2016 in which Mağden criticized a contestant in prime time TV show “Survivor” by likening him to President Erdoğan.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text=”Don’t lose your voice. Stay informed.” use_theme_fonts=”yes”][vc_separator color=”black”][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]Index on Censorship is a nonprofit that campaigns for and defends free expression worldwide. We publish work by censored writers and artists, promote debate, and monitor threats to free speech. We believe that everyone should be free to express themselves without fear of harm or persecution – no matter what their views.

Join our mailing list (or follow us on Twitter or Facebook) and we’ll send you our weekly newsletter about our activities defending free speech. We won’t share your personal information with anyone outside Index.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″][gravityform id=”20″ title=”false” description=”false” ajax=”false”][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][vc_separator color=”black”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

International press freedom groups condemn killing of Maltese investigative journalist


Daphne Caruana Galizia

Daphne Caruana Galizia

Sixteen press freedom groups condemn the killing of investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia and demand an immediate and independent investigation into her death.

“The murder of a prominent investigative journalist in broad daylight in an EU Member State underscores the seriousness of this crime. Daphne Caruana Galizia’s work as a journalist to hold power to account and shine a light on corruption is vital to maintaining our democratic institutions. Her killing is a loss for her country and for Europe”, Hannah Machlin, project manager for Index on Censorship’s data platform Mapping Media Freedom, said.

Daphne Caruana Galizia was killed when the car she was driving exploded in Bidnija around 15.00 on 16 October in what is thought to have been a  targeted attack..

“The barbaric murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia is an attack on journalism itself. This crime is meant to intimidate every investigative journalist,” Dr Lutz Kinkel, Managing Director of the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom, said.

“Because Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and parts of Malta’s political elite were targets of Galizia’s disclosures, we strongly recommend an independent investigation of this case. The killers have to be found and put on trial.”

The blast left her vehicle in several pieces and threw debris into a nearby field. Half an hour before the powerful explosion, the journalist posted a comment about a libel claim the prime minister’s chief of staff had brought against a former opposition leader over comments the latter made about corruption.

Galizia filed a police report 16 days ago saying she was being threatened.

Galizia had conducted a series of high profile corruption investigations and has been subject to dozens of libel suits and harassment. Because of her research, in February, assets were frozen following a request filed by Economic Minister Chris Cardona and his EU presidency policy officer Joseph Gerada.

On 24 August opposition leader Adrian Delia filed a lawsuit against her over stories linking him to offshore accounts totalling to £1 million earned from alleged prostitution in London flats. On 11 March Silvio Debono, owner of the real estate investment company DB Group, filed 19 libel cases against her after Caruana Galizia published a number of articles about his deals with the Maltese government to take over a large tract of high value public land.

Galizia also conducted an investigation linking the Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and his wife Michelle to secret offshore bank accounts to allegedly hide payments from Azerbaijan’s ruling family, which were unveiled in the Panama Papers. She worked on this investigation with her son Matthew Caruana Galizia, a journalist for the Pulitzer prize winning International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, who has had his posts on allegations of wrongdoing by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and his associates censored on Facebook.

On 17 October 2017, her family filed an urgent application for the Duty Magistrate Consuelo Scerri Herrera to abstain from investigating Caruana Galizia’s murder because of the court’s “flagrant conflict of interest”. In 2011, the magistrate initiated court proceedings against the journalist over comments she had made about Magistrate Herrera.

Seven reports of violations of press freedom were verified in Malta in 2017, according to Index on Censorship’s Mapping Media Freedom project. Five of those are linked to Caruana Galizia and her family.

The murder has brought widespread condemnation from the international community including statements from Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjørn Jaglan and OSCE’s Media Freedom Representative Harlem Désir.

We, the undersigned press freedom organisations call for:

— An independent and transparent investigation into the killing of Daphne Caruana Galizia

— Protection for her family members and for other Maltese journalists who have been under threat

— Measures to protect the environment for independent and critical journalism to ensure that reporters can work freely


Article 19

The Association of European Journalists (AEJ)  

The Center for Investigative Reporting

Committee to Protect Journalists

The European Centre for Press and Media Freedom

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ)

Freedom of the Press Foundation

Index on Censorship

International News Safety Institute (INSI)

International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)

International Press Institute (IPI)

Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso Transeuropa (OBCT)

Ossigeno per I’nformazione

Platform of Independent Journalism (P24)

Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF)

South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_basic_grid post_type=”post” max_items=”12″ style=”load-more” items_per_page=”4″ element_width=”6″ grid_id=”vc_gid:1508321261018-6a10a188-6c0b-6″ taxonomies=”8996″][/vc_column][/vc_row]