Journalists on trial for not praising Turkish first lady, other charges - media crackdown roundup

Journalist faces trial for ‘not praising’ Turkish first lady - lawyers

Ender İmrek, journalist at the left-wing Evrensel newspaper, faced a judge on Thursday in Istanbul for an article he penned about Turkey’s first lady Emine Erdoğan entitled, “The Hermes purse was shining bright”.

The prosecutor handling the case demanded that İmrek be penalised for the crime of insult and slander, but did not specify a reason why, according to Evrensel’s report on the trial. The full charge against İmrek was cited as “insult via not attributing good qualities” to Emine Erdoğan.

When asked by İmrek’s lawyers to specify a reason for demanding a penalty, the prosecutor said, “The reason is clear for those who understand.”

İmrek’s lawyer Yıldız İmrek said the journalist had posed a political criticism of the first lady, who had taken on a political role at the time relevant to public interest. The lawyer continued:

“Insult by not attributing good qualities, says the indictment. That means not liking somebody, criticising them, and even not praising them. My client is accused of insulting Emine Erdoğan because he did not praise her.”

In the article İmrek had written about Erdoğan’s Hermes purse, worth $50,000, contrasting it with the jeans-and-t-shirt attire of main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Istanbul Chairwoman Canan Kaftancıoğlu as she faced trial over several tweets, some of which she said had been inauthentic.

“Carrying a $50,000-purse is not an insult to our peoples as they suffer in hunger and poverty, but two sentences can get you against a judge and locked up for insulting the president,” İmrek had said in the article. “Those who went down in history with their shoes, purses and wardrobes, those who boasted of their palaces have never been held in high regard by the people. Isn’t there a benefit to learning from history?”

The luxurious purse had also made waves on Turkish social media at the time, with users commenting that it would have cost President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan six months of his salary.


Same prosecutor handling helicopter drop case issued arrest warrant for journalists - Mezopotamya

The public prosecutor in Turkey’s eastern Van province, who is responsible for the investigation on the case of two villagers getting dropped from a military helicopter in the province last month, issued a demand for detention of journalists covering the case, pro-Kurdish Mezopotamya agency reported on Thursday.

Prosecutor İsmail Köker had also ordered the detention of villagers Servet Turgut and Osman Şiban, Mezopotamya said.

According to the villagers’ lawyers, Köker issued the arrest warrant for the four journalists working for Mezopotamya and Kurdish women’s news agency Jinnews after the families pressed charges related to the helicopter drop incident.

On Thursday, Köker extended the detention time for the reporters by four days and issued a confidentiality order on the case.

The reporters started to give their statements on Thursday night, at approximately 22:00 local time, at the Van central police station, giving their statements, according to Mezopotamya.


Turkey’s journalists, NGOs protest detention of Kurdish reporters

Human Rights Foundation’s (İHD) provincial chapter in Turkey’s eastern Van province held a press conference on Thursday to demand the immediate release of four Kurdish journalists who worked on reports about two villagers getting dropped from a military helicopter in the province last month, press freedom advocate Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA) reported.

İHD Van Chairman Murat Melet said Turkey was the top jailer of journalists, and added: “Arresting journalists for their reports obstructs the people’s right to information. No journalist should be detained for what they write.”

Libertarian Lawyers’ Association (ÖHD) issued a statement saying the detentions were “part of efforts to create a monotone, sycophantic media.”

Barış Dönmez, reporter for the pro-Kurdish Mezopotamya agency where two of the detained journalists work, said they would continue to work where their colleagues left off. Dönmez said the confiscation of Mezopotamya’s equipment would not be enough to restrict their journalism. “If we don’t have computers, we will write on our phones,” Dönmez said.

Reporter for the other news outlet where the detained journalists worked, Hikmet Tunç, said: “There is one reason alone for the detention of our friends: That they documented and reported on the incident that happened to Servet Turgut and Osman Şiban.”

Turgut was one of the villagers whose injuries were consistent with falling from a high altitude, and he lost his life in hospital afterwards. Şiban was seriously wounded.

Reporters from Mezopotamya and Jinnews were detained on Tuesday in midnight raids over their report.


Turkish court postpones hearings for two journalists, one journalist acquitted, another fined

Four journalists faced judges in three Turkish provinces on Thursday, Evrensel reported.

Journalist Ayşe Çınar faced a judge in Turkish capital Ankara for allegedly making terrorist propaganda.

Çınar was accused of propaganda over two tweets she posted during Turkey’s Operation Olive Branch against Syrian Kurds in Afrin. She was acquitted on the second hearing of the case, with the judge ruling that the material conditions for the crime hadn’t been met.

A judge in Istanbul issued a fine of 500 liras ($62) to journalist İnan Ketenciler for nonconsensually recording a private person. Payment of the fine was postponed.

Ketenciler had recorded a neighbourhood watchman mistreating a civilian and posted the video on Twitter.

Journalist Oktay Candemir faced a judge in the eastern province of Van for insulting the president over a tweet he posted. The judge referred the case to the prosecutor and postponed the hearing.

Former executive editor for Gazete Karınca, Necla Demir, faced a judge in Istanbul for insulting the president over two articles published on the online news portal. The prosecutor demanded Demir’s acquittal, while the judge ruled to accept President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s request to join the case as a party that was harmed by the alleged crime. The hearing was postponed.

The articles Demir faced trial for were about Turkish left-wing hacker group RedHack targeting Erdoğan’s son-in-law and Turkey’s Finance Minister Berat Albayrak, and documents made public via Wikileaks that alleged that Erdoğan had dragged Turkey into civil unrest.