2 May 2019:
Turkey's Constitutional Court rejects appeals from four Cumhuriyet staff
Turkey’s highest legal body has rejected applications from four out of nine Turkish journalists who appealed against their jail sentences on grounds their rights had been infringed on.
Nine of the Constitutional Court (AYM)’s 15 judges voted against accepting the appeal by Akın Atalay, Murat Sabuncu, Ahmet Şık and Bülent Utku, former staff of the secularist daily Cumhuriyet who were jailed in the wake of a coup attempt in July 2016 for alleged links to outlawed organisations.
The journalists were returned to prison last month after a court rejected their appeals against the long prison sentences handed to them and 11 other former staff at Cumhuriyet.
Turkish prosecutors say the journalists aided both the Gülen religious movement, which the government blames for the 2016 coup attempt, and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an outlawed group that has fought Turkish security forces since the 1980s.
Ahmet Şık, an investigative journalist, spent around a year in jail from March 2011 after publishing a book critical of the Gülen movement and its founder, Fethullah Gülen.
The AYM ruled in favour of Kadri Gürsel, a former Cumhuriyet journalist, and Murat Aksoy, who wrote for the shuttered daily Yeni Hayat, who had been hit with similar charges.
The court ruled that Gürsel and Aksoy’s personal freedoms and security and freedom of expression had been breached, and ordered 40,000 lira ($6,700) compensation paid to Aksoy, Turkish news site Gazete Duvar reported.
The AYM will convene again on Friday to review appeals by two more journalists sentenced in relation to the 2016 coup attempt, Ahmet Altan and Nazlı Ilıcak.
International rights groups have expressed long-running concerns about press freedom in Turkey, which has been known as the world's leading jailer of journalists for years running.
Turkish journalist Murat Aksoy was released on probation on Friday, the T24 news website reported.
The development was announced on Twitter by Aksoy’s lawyer, Yaman Akdeniz, who tweeted, “Murat Aksoy was finally released minutes ago!”
Aksoy’s sentence of two years, one month in prison was upheld by a regional appeals court in November, which had led to his re-arrest to serve his sentence.
While he was acquitted of charges of membership in the organization as well as coup-related charges, he was sentenced on charges of willingly and knowingly supporting a terrorist organization. Aksoy’s release on probation was expected as a matter of procedure as his remaining sentence was less than a year.
23 November 2018:
Critical Turkish journalist Murat Aksoy was sent back to prison on Thursday after a regional appeals court last month upheld a two year, one month sentence handed down by a local court on a conviction of supporting a terrorist organization.
Aksoy was not convicted of membership in the organization.
Aksoy was first arrested in September 2016 along with 28 other journalists as part of a crackdown targeting alleged followers and sympathizers of the Gülen movement.He was released pending appeal in October 2017.
In a tweet posted on Thursday, Aksoy wrote: “From this day on, we will be away from each other for a while. My trip is to the prison again. Hope to see you as soon as possible. Take good care of yourselves and our country.”
Aksoy’s lawyer, Yaman Akdeniz, who also posted a tweet, said Aksoy turned himself in and was subsequently arrested and sent to Metris Prison. The lawyer said the prison administration would consider allowing Aksoy to serve the rest of his sentence under release on judicial probation.
Prison Sentences of Journalists Aksoy, Taş Upheld
The sentences of prison, which were previously given to 26 people, including journalists Murat Aksoy and Atilla Taş, who were released in October 2017, on charges of "being members of an armed terrorist organization" and "attempting to stage a coup", have been upheld.
The 2nd Penal Chamber of the İstanbul Regional Court of Justice (BAM) announced its verdict, where it had evaluated the requests for appeal, on October 22. The court ruled that the arrest of imprisoned defendants shall continue and rejected their requests for appeal with prejudice.
The prison sentences previously given to journalists Atilla Taş and Murat Aksoy have become definitive since that they are less than five years.
The 2nd Penal Chamber of the İstanbul Regional Court of Justice (BAM) rejected the requests for appeal raised by defendants including Abdullah Kılıç, Ahmet Memiş, Ali Akkuş, Bayram Kaya, Bünyamin Köseli, Cemal Azmi Kalyoncu, Cihan Acar, Cuma Ulus, Davut Aydın, Gökçe Fırat Çulhaoğlu, Habip Güler, Halil İbrahim Balta, Hanım Büşra Erdal, Hüseyin Aydın, Muhammet Sait Kuloğlu, Mustafa Erkan Acar, Mutlu Çölgeçen, Oğuz Usluer and Ünal Tanık.
The court also ruled for the continuation of their arrest.
The court board of the İstanbul 25th Heavy Penal Court had previously ruled that the files of fugitive defendants Bülent Ceyhan and Said Sefa shall be separated since the arrest warrants issued against them had not been executed. The board also ruled that Muhterem Tanık shall be acquitted of the charge of "being a member of an armed terrorist organization".
In the verdict of the İstanbul Regional Court of Justice, it was stated that the evidence in the case file was sound and sufficient for conviction and the ruling of the local court complied with the law.
As part of this lawsuit, journalists were arrested again shortly after a verdict of release was issued for them.
On August 30, 2016, İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor's office issued a detention order for 35 people, including several academics and journalists, as part of the investigation against FETÖ following the coup attempt on July 15. 27 of the 35 detainees were later arrested.
The state-run Anadolu News Agency reported on the detention order for the journalists and writers with the headline "Operation against the media organization of FETÖ".
In the trial which was called "Media Organization" as part of the "Fethullahist Terrorist Organization/ Parallel State Organization/ FETÖ", 29 people were put on trial on charges of "being members of an armed terrorist organization" and "attempting to stage a coup".
A lawsuit was filed against the journalists on the stated charges at İstanbul 25th Heavy Penal Court, which gave its verdict on October 24, 2017.
As per the verdict of the court, 23 defendants were sentenced to 6years and three months to seven years and six months in prison on charge of "being members of an armed terrorist organization".
Facing the charge of "aiding an armed terrorist organization", defendant Atilla Taş was sentenced to 3 years, 1 month and 15 days in prison while Murat Aksoy was sentenced to 2 years and 1 month in prison. (EMK/SD) Source
1 April 2017:
Journalists rearrested after courts order release
Police on April 1 immediately arrested journalists jailed in Istanbul and the Mediterranean city of Antalya in the wake of the failed July 2016 military coup as they were released from prison, according to the daily newspaper Cumhuriyet. Prosecutors had asked Istanbul's 25th Court for Serious Crimes to release journalists Ahmet Memiş, Bayram Kaya, Cemal Azmi Kalyoncu, Cuma Ulus, Habib Güler, Halil İbrahim Balta, Hanım Büşra Erdal, and Muhammed Said Kuloğlu pending the conclusion of their trial, according to media reports. The court agreed, but prosecutors then appealed that order to the 26th Court for Serious Crimes, which quickly reversed the lower court's order for their release, and Istanbul counterterrorism police arrested them as soon as they were formally released from Istanbul's Silivri Prison, according to the press freedom advocacy group Ben Gazeteciyim ("I am a journalist").
Police in Istanbul also immediately rearrested journalists Yakup Çetin, Bünyamin Köseli, Oğuz Usluer, Ali Akkuş, Atilla Taş, Cihan Acar, Abdullah Kılıç, Hüseyin Aydın, Murat Aksoy, Mustafa Erkan Acar, Seyid Kılıç, and Yetkin Yıldız after their release on April 1, but on new charges of "attempting to overthrow the constitutional order" and "attempting to overthrow the government of the Republic of Turkey or preventing it from doing its duty." Their trial on terrorism charges will continue, and they are currently detained for seven days of questioning on the new charges.
The news website Antalya Körfez reported today that prosecutors had successfully appealed the March 31 order from Antalya's Second Court for Serious Crimes to release journalists Tuncer Çetinkaya, Serhat Şeftali, and Olgun Matur. Police detained Çetinkaya from his home on Saturday night, the website reported. Matur turned himself in to police the following day, according to Antalya Körfez. Source
Prosecutors accuse 19 journalists of terrorism
Prosecutors in Istanbul are charging 29 people--including at least 19 journalists CPJ listed as imprisoned in its last global census of jailed journalists--with terrorism on suspicion they are linked to an international religious network led by preacher Fethullah Gülen, whom the government accuses of leading a terrorist organization and parallel state structure that it says was behind July 2016's failed military coup. CPJ has reviewed the indictment, which has yet to be submitted to a court.
The jailed journalists include Abdullah Kılıç, Ahmet Memiş, Ali Akkuş, Atilla Taş, Bayram Kaya, Bünyamin Köseli, Cemal Azmi Kalyoncu, Cihan Acar, Cuma Ulus, Emre Soncan, Habip Güler, Halil İbrahim Balta, Hanım Büşra Erdal, Hüseyin Aydın, Murat Aksoy, Mustafa Erkan Acar, Mutlu Çölgeçen, Ufuk Şanlı and Yakup Çetin.
Turkey's İhlas News Agency on January 18 reported that four of the 29 suspects were not in state custody at the time. Among them was Said Sefa, editor of the news website Haberdar, whom prosecutors accuse of being a leader of the organization. The indictment asks the court to try Sefa with attempting a coup, "through violence and force, attempting to eliminate the government of the Republic of Turkey or keeping it from doing its duties partially or completely," and "leading an armed terrorist organization." The other suspects are charged with "being a member of an armed terrorist organization."
Prosecutors allege Sefa was the founder of a shared Twitter account, followed by millions of people, that publishes purported leaks from Turkish officials under the pseudonym Fuat Avni. The account has accurately predicted police operations and policy changes. High-ranking ruling party officials, including Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, have repeatedly said that they take the issue of leaks seriously.
Prosecutors allege Gülenists conspired to manipulate public perception through conventional and social media in order to serve their goals, and that the Fuat Avni Twitter account was the focal point of this effort, since the account's predictions and analyses were often featured in pro-Gülen media. Prosecutors also allege that plotlines featuring government corruption and incompetence in political dramas aired on broadcasters they accuse of having ties to the Gülenist movement were part of the organization's propaganda efforts. Prosecutors said that the accused wrote articles, produced broadcasts, and used social media to spread information and opinion about the same topics in a coordinated effort. Source
Prosecutors on September 2 ordered journalists Alparslan Akkuş, Rasih Yılmaz, and Ömer Şahin, who had been detained in the scope of the same investigation, unconditionally released, and ordered Nurullah Öztürk released on probation, CPJ reportedat the time. On the night of September 2, an Istanbul court ordered Ayhan Şimşek, İskender Yunus Tiryaki, Dinçer Gökçe, and Levent Arap, also detained in the same investigation, released on probation.
The opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet reported Monday that Aksoy denied any connection to the Gülen movement, but that he had taken a job with the closed, pro- Gülenist newspaper Millet only because he could not find another job after having been fired from the pro-government daily newspaper Yeni Şafak. Taş likewise denied having any ties to the Gülenist movement.
"Anybody who criticizes the government is a target," Cumhuriyet quoted Taş as saying.
30 August 2016:
Prosecutors issue warrants for 35 journalists, police detain at least nine
The Istanbul Chief Prosecutor's Office today ordered 35 journalists to be detained in scope of investigations into a July 15 failed military coup that left more than 200 people dead, according to news reports. The Turkish government accuses the Hizmet movement, or FETÖ, of being a terrorist organization with "a parallel state structure" that orchestrated the attempted coup.
At the time of publication, police had detained at least nine journalists from Istanbul, Ankara and Kocaeli, roughly 66 miles (107 kilometers) east of Istanbul. Press reports identified those nine as:
Hürriyet reported that at least three journalists on the full list -- Ergun Babahan, Osman Özsoy, and Şemsettin Efe -were abroad. The pro-government newspaper Sabah reported that at least 18 of the 35 journalists whose arrest prosecutors seek were not in Turkey, while police were searching for another eight journalists from the list.
Police in Istanbul searched the home of Yavuz Baydar -- a founding member of the Platform for Independent Journalism, or P24, and one of the eight journalists police are seeking in Turkey -- the news website T24 reported. Source
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