Charlie Hebdo march: world leaders who persecute journalists line up like crims

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Yesterday world leaders united in their mockery of Charlie Hebdo: their attendance at the march in Paris was an insult to the memory of those staff at the magazine who were murdered. Not only do these world leaders represent the antithesis of all that Charlie Hebdo advocates, but also, to differing degrees, represent governments (and dictatorships) that censor media, repress journalist or demand total surveillance – all of which the staff of Charlie Hebdo were vehemently opposed. Below we provide an extensive listing of journalists imprisoned by some of those leaders who attended the march, as well as related forms of repression (e.g. mass surveillance) though – through lack of space – not the thousands of examples of human rights violations.

Firstly… Over 200 journalists are held in jails worldwide. Turkey is the world’s leading jailer of journalists for the second year running, followed closely by Iran and China. Here is a database of journalists imprisoned worldwide. Reporters Without Borders condemned the presence of what it calls ‘predators’ at the Charlie Hebdo march.

Meanwhile in Britain David Cameron announced that if his government is re-elected he will reintroduce the Data Communications bill (aka the Snoopers Charter) that will legalise the surveillance practices GCHQ operate against the entire UK population.

See also Charlie Hebdo: GCHQ, hypocrisy, radicalism, anarchism and heroism…

Most of the following information is adapted from the Committee to Protect Journalists website. Here is their statement on recent events in France.

1. UK

In Britain it has been acknowledged that GCHQ monitors the electronic and phone communications of journalists and their sources. Currently there is a legal case underway by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism challenging this intrusive practice.

GCHQ destroyed documents obtained by The Guardian and threatened prosecution.

2. Egypt

Sixteen journalists are currently in prison, some for merely being staff members of al-Jazeera.

Journalist Shawkan has been imprisoned for around 500 days.  Following the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi on July 3, 2013, the military-supported government detained dozens of local and international journalists, particularly those viewed as critical of the government or sympathetic to Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood.

Abdel Nabi, a correspondent for the critical news website Rassd, was arrested while covering clashes between supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi and supporters of the Egyptian army in the Sidi Beshr neighborhood in Alexandria, according to news reports. A prosecutor charged Abdel Nabi and at least 14 others with possessing weapons and inciting rioting, according to the state-run paper Al-Ahram.

Bader, cameraman for Al-Jazeera Mubashir, was arrested while covering clashes between Egyptian security forces and supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi at Ramses Square, according to news reports. The reports gave conflicting dates as to Bader’s arrest. Bader was charged with attempted murder and possessing a weapon, according to news reports. The charges were the same as those levied against hundreds of protesters detained during the clashes. His lawyer, Mohamed Shaaban, told CPJ that Bader denied the charges. Al-Jazeera also denied the charges against Bader and said he had been carrying out his journalistic duty. A trial date was set for December 2013, according to news reports.

Al-Shami, Egypt correspondent for Al-Jazeera, was arrested while covering clashes between Egyptian security forces and supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi during the dispersal of pro-Morsi sit-ins at Rabaa Al-Adawiya in Cairo, according to news reports. On August 17, 2013, the journalist was transferred to Abu Zaabal prison, according to news reports and his brother, Mosa’ab Elshamy. Al-Shami was accused of possessing weapons, according to news sources. His pre-trial detention was extended at least twice in late 2013. Authorities had not lodged charges against al-Shami in late 2013, according to reports.

3. Russia

Last December a member of Pussy riot was arrested for merely attending a protest. A journalist was jailed for “insulting a government servant”.

Traffic police in Sochi detained Yarst, a Sochi correspondent for the public television channel OTR, while he was on his way to meet the head of the Sochi branch of Russia’s Investigative Committee, the agency tasked with handling serious crimes in the country, in connection with a story. Local news reports said police arrested him after saying they found drugs in his car, which Yarst denied. A drug test performed on the journalist immediately after his detention showed no traces of drug use, local reports said. A search of Yarst’s home also showed no traces of drugs, according to his lawyer and local journalists. Yarst was placed under house arrest. He was formally charged on May 31, 2013, with drug possession, drug use, and carrying of narcotics. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in prison, according to press reports. He was forbidden from receiving visitors, according to a Human Rights Watch report. Yarst was investigating the case of a local girl, Diana Serdyukova, who was taken to Georgia by her stepfather, against the will of her blood relatives. Yarst was investigating the possible corruption of local officials in the case-specifically, allegations that they had taken bribes and allowed the girl to be taken abroad without her relatives’ consent, according to news reports. At the time of his arrest, Yarst was headed to the Investigative Committee agency to see the Serdyukova case files. His report for OTR was never finished. Yarst’s lawyer, Aleksandr Popkov, told CPJ that his client’s detention and the official evidence against him were marred by procedural violations. Popkov said Yarst was detained by three officers with Sochi’s traffic police, who, according to Russian law, are not authorized to conduct searches. Popkov told Human Rights Watch that his client’s case files contain testimony by a “secret witness” who allegedly alerted the traffic police to the presence of powdered narcotics in Yarst’s car. But, Popkov said, no security cameras recorded the seizure of narcotics from Yarst, and traffic police testimony initially did not mention a secret witness. Yarst’s case file said that at least three different traffic police officers gave different reasons for stopping the journalist’s car in the first place, according to his lawyer. Yarst’s lawyer and his friends and supporters believe that his arrest and continued detention are in retaliation for his work on the Serdyukova story, and his investigation of the potential involvement of local officials and police in allowing the girl to allegedly be taken out of Russia illegally. Before he started worked for OTR in 2012, Yarst was a Sochi correspondent for the Moscow-based channel TV Tsentr.

Regional authorities in Rostov-on-Don, southern Russia, jailed Reznik immediately after the Pervomaiskiy District Court declared him guilty on charges of insulting a public official, bribery, and deliberately misleading authorities, the regional news website Kavkazsky Uzel reported. The court sentenced him to jail for 18 months. Yuri Kastrubin, Reznik’s defense attorney, told Kavkazsky Uzel that the journalist would appeal the verdict. News reports said Reznik had maintained a personal blog on the popular platform Livejournal and had contributed reporting to regional news outlets, including the website Yuzhnyi Federalnyi. His articles for the website criticized municipal and regional authorities and alleged widespread corruption and abuses. Authorities filed charges against Reznik in November 2012, saying that an investigation into the blogger had shown that Reznik staged threats he had reported receiving in February 2012 to stop publishing his articles. Officials accused Reznik of misleading them. Authorities also said that the blogger had bribed a car shop mechanic to get an inspection sticker for his vehicle. Reznik was also charged with insult in connection with a series of articles he posted on his personal blog in which he accused the chairwoman of the Regional Arbitration Court of corruption and nepotism, local and international media reported. According to the independent Moscow-based newspaper Novaya Gazeta, at the time of his imprisonment, authorities were also investigating two other charges against Reznik related to his reporting on local authorities. He has denied all charges, according to news reports. A month before he was sentenced, Reznik was attacked by two unidentified men outside his apartment building. The blogger and his wife were beaten and shot at, according to news reports. Authorities have failed to bring to justice those responsible for the attack. News reports said Reznik was being held in a regional detention facility in late 2013, but did not offer further details.

4. UAE

In 2013 held a journalist was held incommunicado for a month on suspicion of MB links.

5. Saudi Arabia

Friday saw the public flogging of the jailed blogger Raif Badawi, who received the first 50 of 1,000 lashes – part of his punishment for running a liberal website devoted to freedom of speech. Last May he was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment. Fadhil al-Manasif is facing 14 years in prison on charges stemming from his assistance to journalists covering protests over the treatment of Shia Muslims.

6. Georgia

Long record of attacking, beating up and jailing journalists.

7. Algeria

Protests and marches are banned. Journalist Abdessami Abdelhai was jailed for 15 month without charge.

8. Bahrain

Bahrain is the second biggest jailer of journalists in the world per capita (they also torture them).

Alsingace, a journalistic blogger and human rights defender, was among a number of high-profile government critics arrested as the government renewed its crackdown on dissent after pro-reform protests swept the country in February 2011. In June 2011, a military court sentenced Alsingace to life imprisonment for “plotting to topple the monarchy.”

Police arrested Humaidan, a freelance photographer, and charged him with “demonstrating illegally” and “using violence to assault police and damage public properties” during protests on the island of Sitra, where he lived, according to news reports. Humaidan has covered demonstrations since 2011, when thousands of Bahrainis descended into the streets to protest the government. His photographs were published by local opposition sites, including the online newsmagazine Alhadath and the news website Alrasid. Adel Marzouk, head of the Bahrain Press Association, an independent media freedom organization based in London, told CPJ that Humaidan’s photographs had exposed police attacks on protesters during demonstrations. Humaidan’s family said authorities had sought his arrest for months and had raided their home five times in an attempt to arrest him, news reports said. Humaidan’s trial, which was delayed repeatedly, was ongoing in late 2013.

Hubail, a photographer, was arrested at the Bahrain International Airport and held incommunicado for six days before being transferred to the Dry Dock prison on August 5, 2013, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights reported. Hubail was detained the same day as a Bahraini blogger, Mohammed Hassan. The arrests came amid political tension in Bahrain over an opposition protest planned for August 14 that was modeled after the demonstrations that led to the ouster of former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi. Bahrain King Hamad Bin Issa al-Khalifa decreed new measures to crack down on protesters who the government believed were engaging in terrorist activities. On August 7, 2013, Hubail and Hassan were interrogated by the public prosecutor who accused them of incitement against the regime and calling for illegal gatherings. Hubail’s lawyer, Ali al-Asfoor, said in a series of Twitter posts that investigators had questioned Hubail about his photography and purported posts on social media that had called for the protests on August 14. Al-Asfoor told CPJ that his client faces up to 15 years in prison under the charges. Hubail, who photographs opposition protests in Bahrain, has had his work published by Agence France-Presse and other news outlets. In May 2013, independent newspaper Al-Wasat awarded him a photography prize for his picture of protesters enshrouded in tear gas. Hubail and Hassan have claimed they were tortured in custody by the Criminal Investigation Department, according to the Bahrain Center for Human Rights. The center said Hubail was beaten, kicked, forced to stand for long periods of time, and deprived of sleep.

9. Jordan

Last year a Palestinian journalist was sentenced to 15 years in prison with hard labour.

l-Faraaneh, publisher of Jfra News, and Mu’ala, its editor-in-chief, were arrested by Jordanian security forces and taken to Juwaida prison, according to the website. Jfra News covers general news and culture in the region. The prosecutor charged the journalists under Article 118 of the Jordanian penal code with disturbing relations with foreign states, news reports said. Agence France-Presse reported, citing an unnamed security official, that the charges carry up to five years in prison. Jfra News said in a statement posted to its website on September 22, 2013, that the journalists were arrested after the website had reposted a certain video. Jfra News manager Samer Khatib told AFP that the video, which is no longer available on the website, was called “Son of (former) Qatari emir in sex scandal with Israeli woman.” According to the AFP report, the video contains no sexual content and shows “a man wearing a baseball cap, tank top and a pair of jeans talking to a fully clothed woman on a bed.” Several versions of the video are available on YouTube. Some only show the bed scene, while others also purportedly show the royal family member dancing, showering, and groping women. The videos have been viewed thousands of times and most have been online since 2012. Jfra News denied having any intention of insulting the “brotherly state of Qatar” in its statement. The journalists’ case was transferred to the State Security Court, which has refused to release them on bail, according to news reports. Al-Faraaneh and Mu’ala were being held in the Hashemite Prison of Zarqa after being transferred from Juwaida Prison, news reports said. The trial was ongoing in late 2013.

10. Israel

Israeli forces killed 7 journalists in Gaza last year alone.

Israeli authorities arrested Harb, West Bank director of the Gaza-based Falastin, at his home in the northern West Bank town of Isskaka, the daily newspaper reported. After visiting Harb in Jalama interrogation center in April, his lawyer, Mohammed Abed, said that Israeli authorities had accused his client of supporting Hamas and facilitating the transfer of money to the West Bank, Falastin reported. Abed said Harb confessed to the charges, fearing he would otherwise be held in administrative detention. Under administrative detention procedures, authorities may hold detainees for six months without charge or trial and then extend the detention an unlimited number of times. Harb’s family told Falastin that he had spent about 18 years in prison, most of it under administrative detention. In May 2007, Harb was arrested and held in administrative detention for what an Israeli judge called his “recent propensity for military activity.” At the time, the paper’s editor, Mustafa al-Sawaf, said his work for the paper led to his arrest. His lawyer, Tamar Pelleg, also said he had been accused of being a prominent leader of Hamas. Harb did not deny knowing Hamas members but said his ties to them were purely social. Harb was briefly released in 2011 before being arrested and put in administrative detention again, according to Falastin. He was released in late 2012. Falastin is a daily that has published news on Palestine and Israel. It was licensed in 2006, and published its first issue in 2007. In an interview with Falastin this year, Harb’s mother said, “I am confident my son is arrested only for his profession and his journalistic writing, nothing more and nothing less.” It is not clear how Harb continues to work for the paper while he has remained in detention for so many years. While in prison, he has published several books and novels dealing with the themes of religion and resistance to Israeli policies. In August 2013, the Salem military court delayed Harb’s trial by two months, the Center for Palestinian Prisoner Studies reported. He is currently being held in Megiddo prison, his family said. Falastin did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

Israeli authorities arrested Muna in a dawn raid of his house in Nablus, the U.K.-based Quds Press News Agency reported. The authorities also confiscated his computer, cellphone, and some papers, news reports said. A military court ordered Muna, the Nablus correspondent for Quds Press News Agency, to be held for six months under administrative detention without disclosing any charges against him. Under administrative detention procedures, authorities may hold detainees for six months without charge or trial and then extend the detention an unlimited number of times. Quds Press News Agency’s correspondent in the southern West Bank, Yousef Faqeeh, told CPJ in November 2013 that the reasons for Muna’s arrest were unclear but that the journalist had reported critically on alleged Israeli human rights violations in the West Bank. It was not clear which reports were written by Muna because Quds Press News Agency, which is critical of Israeli policies, does not use bylines. On October 7, 2013, the Ofer military court considered an appeal of Muna’s six-month detention, Quds Press News Agency reported. The journalist was transferred to the Negev detention facility after the appeal was denied on October 29, 2013, the agency said.

Israeli authorities arrested Abu Khdeir at Ben Gurion Airport as he was returning from a trip to Cairo, the Kuwaiti daily Al-Rai reported. His house was also raided and authorities confiscated his phones and computer, news reports said. Abu Khdeir, who writes for Al-Rai as well as the Jerusalem-based daily Al-Quds, was in Cairo to report on a recent Arab League meeting. His most recent articles, published the week of his arrest, dealt with a controversial draft law that would allow Jews to pray at Al-Aqsa mosque. The mosque is considered one of the most holy places in Islam, but it sits on the Temple Mount, which Jews consider sacred as well. Al-Rai also reported that a gag order has been placed on Abu Khdeir’s arrest. The Israeli courts often impose gag orders on the press concerning cases of national security, and local publications that violate the orders can face legal repercussions. Al-Quds has not reported publicly about the case and did not respond to a request for comment. It is not clear what accusations or charges have been filed against Abu Khdeir. The Israeli Prison Service and Israel Airports Authority did not respond to a request for comment. News reports said Abu Khdeir was being held in Be’er Sheba in the Negev desert, and his family and lawyer have not been allowed to visit. In a separate incident in 2012 reported by The Associated Press, Israeli authorities demanded to strip search Abu Khdeir and several other Palestinian journalists attempting to cover a press conference by then-U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. Abu Khdeir refused, saying Israeli and international journalists were not asked to undergo the same procedure.

11. Tunisia

Blogger Yassine Ayan was jailed for 3 years for “defaming the army”.

12. Greece

Riot police beat and injured two journalists at a protest in June last year.

13. Mali

Journalists are expelled for covering human rights abuse.

14. Qatar

Jailed a man for 15 years for writing the Jasmine poem.

15. Palestine

In 2013 Mahmoud Abbas had several journalists jailed for insulting him.

16. Italy

Gangemi, the 79-year-old editor of the monthly magazine Il Dibattito (The Debate), was taken into police custody the day after he was found guilty of libel and perjury. He initially faced a six-year sentence on all charges, but the sentence was reduced to two years. He spent a week at a Calabria regional prison before being transferred to home confinement on October 12, 2013. The imprisonment stemmed from eight libel convictions against Gangemi between 2007 and 2012 in connection with articles and commentaries in his magazine about public life in Italy, with a focus on public figures involved in corruption cases. Gangemi was also convicted of perjury in a case originating in 1992 that was finalized in 2012. He publicly accused a local politician of financial misconduct during the 1990s corruption investigations known as “Tangentopoli,” while he himself briefly served as a regional councilor in Calabria region. In that case, the editor was also found guilty of failing to disclose his source for the accusations. Although Italy is one of the few countries in the European Union where defamation remains a criminal offense punishable by imprisonment, journalists are often made to pay fines rather than go to prison. Elvira Tafuri, public prosecutor in the Catania region, told the press that Gangemi’s arrest was necessary because the journalist’s lawyers had not requested an alternative sentence, or fine, from the judge. In September 2013, the European Court of Human Rights found Italy in breach of Article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights (freedom of expression) for giving a newspaper editor a suspended four-month prison sentence for criminal defamation. Despite domestic and international calls to decriminalize defamation, the Italian parliament has so far failed to reform its laws, which date back to the 1930s. Gangemi is disabled and has cancer, according to local news reports.

17. Turkey

Seventy journalists are currently being prosecuted by the Turkish authorities for publishing details of corruption against businessmen closely linked to prime minster Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Turkey imprisons more journalists than any other country in the world.

Duman, former owner and news editor of the socialist weekly Atılım (Leap), was serving a life term at Gebze Women’s Closed Prison in Kocaeli on charges of being a member of the banned Marxist Leninist Communist Party, or MLKP, producing propaganda, and “attempting to change the constitutional order by force.” Duman was also charged with seizing weapons and forgery of an official document, among other charges, in relation to her association with MLKP, according to an updated list of imprisoned journalists provided by the Justice Ministry in November 2013 at CPJ’s request. CPJ believes the charges are baseless and unsubstantiated after viewing the available court documents, including the indictment. As evidence of the membership and propaganda charges, authorities cited Duman’s attendance at MLKP demonstrations and the testimony of confidential witnesses. Duman’s lawyer, Keleş Öztürk, told CPJ that his client was targeted because Atılım had opposed administration policies. The weapons and forgery charges were mainly pegged to the alleged confession of a witness, Duman’s husband, who later said he had been questioned under torture. Duman was convicted on all charges on May 4, 2011, according to local press reports. In October 2012, the Supreme Court of Appeals upheld Duman’s life sentence. Duman’s lawyers appealed to a higher appellate court, Turkey’s Constitutional Court, and were awaiting a verdict in late 2013.

Gök, Ankara correspondent for the leftist magazine Ekmek ve Adalet (Bread and Justice), is charged with being a member of the outlawed Revolutionary People’s Salvation Party/Front (DHKP/C), according to his defense lawyer, Evrim Deniz Karatana. Gök faced up to 10 years in prison if convicted. He was being kept at the Ankara F Type High Security Closed Prison No. 1, according to an updated list of imprisoned journalists provided by the Justice Ministry in November 2013 at CPJ’s request. Karatana told CPJ that the evidence against the journalist consisted of his news coverage and attendance at political demonstrations. She said Gök had been targeted for his reporting on politics and human rights, along with his beliefs as a socialist. Karatana said her client suffers from Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, which has led to a loss of sight and balance. She said that he was jailed despite having a medical document that says he is severely disabled and ineligible for incarceration. Gök was also serving a life term on charges of membership in a terrorist organization, forgery, bombing, and murder, all dating back to the early 1990s, according to the Justice Ministry’s updated list. The life sentence was withdrawn in 2002 when Gök was released on parole for health reasons, Karatana told CPJ. But when Gök was rearrested in 2004 on the DHKP/C membership charges, the life term was reinstated, she said. She said they had appealed the reinstated life term, but the appeal was rejected.

Erdoğan, former general manager for the leftist Özgür Radyo (The Free Radio), was being held at Gebze Women’s Closed Prison. Authorities alleged Erdoğan used radio station assets to support the banned Marxist Leninist Communist Party, or MLKP. A full list of the charges against Erdoğan-obtained by CPJ from Turkey’s Justice Ministry-include “breaching the Constitution,” “forming organizations with the intention of committing crimes,” “possessing hazardous substances without permission,” “endangering public safety intentionally,” “damaging property,” and “forgery of official documents,” among others. On November 5, 2013, Erdoğan, along with several other defendants, was found guilty of the charges and sentenced to life in prison by the Tenth Court of Serious Crimes in Istanbul, the independent news portal Bianet reported. Zulfü Erdoğan, the journalist’s lawyer and sister, told CPJ that the case against Fusün Erdoğan had been fabricated because the journalist and her news outlet had opposed the administration. She said the main evidence on all charges against her client was a 40-page document that supposedly included the names and personal information of MLKP members. The lawyer questioned the authenticity of the document, saying it was not seized from her client’s home or office and that no evidence connected it to her client. Erdoğan spent more than seven years in prison before a verdict against her was given-an extraordinarily long period that was also the subject of a complaint before the European Court of Human Rights. Zulfü Erdoğan said the journalist suffered from a thyroid disease and needed medical attention. Erdoğan is appealing the sentence before Turkey’s Constitutional Court-the last instance of domestic redress. The appeal was pending in late 2013.

Namaz, a columnist for the weekly socialist newspaper Atılım (Leap), was charged with possession of dangerous materials, forgery of official documents, breaching the Constitution, forming organizations with the intention of committing crimes, endangering public safety, making threats, breaking and entering, damaging public property, and others, according to an updated list of imprisoned journalists provided by the Justice Ministry in November 2013 at CPJ’s request. The official indictment, which was obtained by CPJ, did not contain any evidence of the alleged criminal activity. Atılım is affiliated with the Socialist Party of the Oppressed, or ESP, which is a lawful organization. Gülizar Tuncer, Namaz’s lawyer, told CPJ that the state considered the paper and party to be fronts for the illegal Marxist Leninist Communist Party, or MLKP. In an indictment, authorities said Namaz was arrested with others at a house in Aydın’s Nazilli district in western Turkey, where the fourth general congress of the MLKP was held. Namaz said he was picked up by police at another location and brought there. Authorities alleged that Namaz possessed a fake identification and that identification documents belonging to him were found in an MLKP house in Kayseri Province. As evidence against him, authorities also cited a 2005 article about an MLKP conference that was published in a Kurdish-language journal. Tuncer said her client was not the author of the article. Tuncer said Namaz had been working under constant police surveillance for years, making it impossible for him to lead a secret life as a member of an illegal organization. On July 12, 2013, the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France, ruled that Namaz had been kept in prison for an exorbitant amount of time without a verdict, according to news reports. The court told Turkey to pay compensation of 6,600 euros to Namaz. Turkish authorities complied. On November 5, 2013, Namaz, along with several other defendants, was found guilty of all charges and sentenced to life in prison by the Tenth Court of Serious Crimes in Istanbul, the independent news portal Bianet reported. The journalist was being held at Edirne F Type High Security Closed Prison. Lawyer Tuncer told CPJ that the defense believed the verdict to be “unlawful.”Namaz has appealed his verdict before Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeals. The appeal was pending in late 2013.

Tunç, a reporter for the pro-Kurdish Dicle News Agency and the daily Özgür Gündem (The Free Agenda), was serving a sentence of six years and three months on charges of producing propaganda for, aiding and abetting intentionally, and being a member of the banned Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK. Tunç was charged and convicted of using the media to perform those activities, according to an updated list of imprisoned journalists provided by the Justice Ministry in November 2013 at CPJ’s request. It was unclear why Tunç was still being held after his sentence should have expired. After his case was heard, Tunç’s lawyers were themselves imprisoned as part of an investigation into the Union of Communities in Kurdistan, or KCK, an umbrella group of pro-Kurdish organizations that includes the PKK. In March 2012, Tunç sent a letter to the independent news portal Bianet in which he alleged that authorities had set him up for a false arrest. In April 2007, he said, he offered a woman he believed to be a member of the Democratic Society Party, a legal entity that was the forerunner of today’s Peace and Democracy Party, some assistance in finding lodging. Tunç said he did not know the woman and now believed she had acted as an agent of the police. Within days, he said, he was detained on charges of aiding a member of a terrorist group. In 2011, Tunç was transferred to the Rize Kalkandere L Type Prison in Rize, where he was being held in late 2013, according to a report by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.

Balbay, a columnist and former Ankara representative for the leftist-ultranationalist daily Cumhuriyet (The Republic), was detained as part of the government’s investigation into the alleged Ergenekon plot, a shadowy conspiracy that authorities claimed was aimed at overthrowing the government through a military coup. Balbay was initially detained on July 1, 2008, brought to Istanbul, and questioned about his news coverage and his relations with the military and other Ergenekon suspects. Police searched his house and the Ankara office of Cumhuriyet and confiscated computers and documents, but released him four days later. Balbay was detained a second time in March 2009 and placed at Silivri F Type Prison in Istanbul pending trial. He was moved to solitary confinement in February 2011. His lawyers filed complaints with the European Court of Human Rights alleging violations of due process. Despite being imprisoned, Balbay was elected a parliamentary deputy on the Republican People’s Party ticket in Izmir province in the June 2011 election. The charges against Balbay included being a member of an armed terrorist organization; attempting to overthrow the government; provoking an armed uprising; unlawfully obtaining, using, and destroying documents concerning government security; and disseminating classified information. The evidence against Balbay included documents seized from his property and office, the news stories he produced, wiretapped telephone conversations, and secretly recorded meetings with senior military and government officials. Balbay denied the government’s accusations and, in columns written from prison and in court hearings, repeatedly said that the seized notes and recorded conversations were related to his journalism. In its indictment, the government said Balbay had kept detailed records of his meetings with military and political figures. Authorities alleged that Balbay had erased the notes from his computer but technicians were able to retrieve them from the hard drive. The notes-some of which dated back to the period before the Justice and Development Party, or AKP, won power-showed military officials discussing how they could alter Turkish politics. For example, in notes dated April 6, 2003, a general identified as Yaşar asked the columnist: “Tell me, Mr. Balbay, can a coup be staged today with this media structure? It can’t. You cannot do something today without the media backing you. You are the only one entreating secularism. The other papers are publishing photographs of women with covered heads every day, almost trying to make it sympathetic.” In public comments, Balbay said he had been keeping the notes for journalistic purposes, including for use in a potential book. He said the government’s indictment quoted excerpts out of context and in a way that made him appear guilty. In the indictment, Balbay was quoted as saying that he had erased the files after concluding their use would not be right. Participants in the conversations included İlhan Selçuk, the now-deceased chief editor of Cumhuriyet and an Ergenekon suspect before his death in June 2010; Generals Şener Eruygur, Aytaç Yalman, and Şenkal Atasagun; and former President Ahmet Necdet Sezer. The indictment identified Selçuk as a leader of Ergenekon and accused Balbay of acting as secretary in organizing meetings and keeping notes under cover of journalism. Military officials considered Cumhuriyet a favorite because they shared the paper’s positions on secularism and the Kurdish issue. The government also said it found classified documents in Balbay’s possession, including military reports on neighboring countries and assessments on political Islam in Turkey. Balbay said news sources had provided him with the documents and that he was using them for journalistic purposes. Two taped conversations at the gendarmerie headquarters-dated December 23, 2003, and January 5, 2004-were also cited as evidence. The government alleged that, among other topics, Balbay and other participants had discussed whether political conditions would allow a coup. Balbay said such discussions were theoretical and constituted no criminal intent. The government also cited Balbay’s news coverage, including a May 2003 story headlined “The Young Officers Are Restless.” The phrase had been used previously in Turkish politics and was seen as code for a potential military coup. The story claimed that Hilmi Özkök, then the military’s chief of general staff, had warned Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan about perceived anti-military pressure from the ruling AKP. Özkök denounced the story as false at the time. Authorities claimed that Balbay’s own notes showed that Atilla Ateş, then the commander of Turkish land forces, had congratulated him for the piece by saying, “You did your duty.” In August 2013, the 13th Court of Serious Crimes in Istanbul sentenced Balbay and at least 19 other journalists to varying prison terms in the Ergenekon case, according to news reports. Balbay was given a term of 34 years and eight months for allegedly “attempting to overthrow the Turkish Government or trying to prevent its duty to perform,” according to an updated list of imprisoned journalists provided by the Justice Ministry in November 2013 at CPJ’s request. Balbay appealed the verdict before Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeals. The appeal was ongoing in late 2013. He was being held at the Ankara L Type Closed Prison No. 1, according to the Justice Ministry’s updated list.

Birsin, general manager of Gün TV, a regional pro-Kurdish television news station in southeastern Turkey, was charged with “leading an armed terrorist organization by organizing its activities” and “violating the Law on Meetings and Demonstrations,” according to information provided to CPJ by Turkey’s Justice Ministry in November 2013. Birsin’s lawyer, Fuat Coşacak, told CPJ that the charges were retaliatory and without basis. Authorities publicly claim that the pro-Kurdish media are aligned with the banned Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, and the KCK, an umbrella group of pro-Kurdish organizations that includes the PKK. The government says the journalists produce propaganda in favor of the banned organizations. Birsin described his arrest in a May 2009 letter published in the daily Gündem. He said police came to his office on the night of April 13, 2009, searched the building, and confiscated archival material, computer hard drives, laptops, cameras, and other broadcast equipment. Birsin, imprisoned at Diyarbakır D Type High-Security Closed Prison, could face up to 15 years in prison if found guilty. Birsin’s trial was ongoing in late 2013.

Yıldırım was the chief editor of the ultranationalist-leftist Aydınlık (Enlightenment), then a monthly, when police detained him at his house in Istanbul as part of the government’s investigation into the alleged Ergenekon plot, a shadowy conspiracy that authorities believed was aimed at overthrowing the government through a military coup. He was being held at Silivri L Type Closed Prison No. 1 in Istanbul on initial charges of being a member of a terrorist organization, violating privacy rights, and disclosing state secrets. According to the indictment, Yıldırım received a recording from Ergenekon conspirators and published its contents. The recording purported to include a 2004 phone conversation between Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat in which the two discussed the sensitive issue of Cyprus’ political status. As evidence, authorities cited Yıldırım’s published work and other recordings allegedly found during a police raid of the Aydınlık offices. Yıldırım said he had no ties to Ergenekon. Mehmet Aytenkin, his lawyer, told CPJ that his client was arrested because Aydınlık was critical of the government. In August 2013, the 13th Court of Serious Crimes in Istanbul convicted at least 20 journalists, including Yıldırım, in the Ergenekon case, and sentenced them to various terms in prison, according to news reports. Yıldırım was sentenced to 16 years and 10 months on charges of “acquiring confidential documents concerning the security of the State,” “obtaining and distributing personal data illegally,” and “membership of an armed terrorist organization,” according to an updated list of imprisoned journalists provided by the Justice Ministry in November 2013 at CPJ’s request. Yıldırım is appealing the verdict before Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeals. The appeal was pending in late 2013.

Akyüz, Adana correspondent for the Kurdish-language daily Azadiya Welat, was serving a 12-year term at Ceyhan M Type Closed Prison in Adana, according to an updated list of imprisoned journalists provided by the Justice Ministry in November 2013 at CPJ’s request. Akyüz was initially charged with aiding the banned Union of Communities in Kurdistan, or KCK, an umbrella group of pro-Kurdish organizations that includes the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK. Authorities cited as evidence his possession of banned newspapers and his presence at a May Day demonstration in İzmir. He was later convicted of membership in an armed terrorist organization, the PKK. Authorities publicly claim that the pro-Kurdish media are aligned with the banned Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, and the KCK, an umbrella group of pro-Kurdish organizations that includes the PKK. The government says the journalists produce propaganda in favor of the banned organizations. The trial in Adana made national news when the judge refused to allow Akyüz and other defendants to offer statements in their native Kurdish. A report by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe also found that court officials withheld case documents from Akyüz’s lawyer for more than a year. Legal representation for Akyüz and other detained Azadiya Welat journalists changed in 2012. The new defense lawyer, Cemil Sözen, who represented Akyüz on appeal, told CPJ in 2012 that he could not comment because he was not yet familiar with the case. In 2013, the defense was still unable to get full access to Akyüz’s case documents.

Karavil, editor-in-chief of the pro-Kurdish radio station Radyo Dünya in the southern province of Adana, served more than three years in prison before being convicted on charges of being a member of the banned Union of Communities in Kurdistan, or KCK, and the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK. In January 2013, the Eighth Court of Serious Crimes in Adana Province sentenced Karavil to 25 years in prison, his lawyer, Vedat Özkan, told CPJ. Özkan said the journalist will appeal the case. As evidence, authorities cited news programs that Karavil produced, his meetings with members of the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party, and his wiretapped telephone conversations with colleagues, listeners, and news sources, Özkan told CPJ. In one phone conversation, the lawyer said, Karavil discussed naming a program “Those Who Imagine the Island.” He said the indictment considered this illegal propaganda because it referred to the imprisonment of PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan, who was being held on İmralı Island. In a letter to media outlets, Karavil said authorities had questioned him about the station’s ownership and the content of its programming. Court officials refused to allow Karavil to give statements in his native Kurdish language, Özkan said. Karavil was serving his term at the Kırıkkale F Type High Security Closed Prison in Adana, according to an updated list of imprisoned journalists provided by the Justice Ministry in November 2013 at CPJ’s request.

Süsem, editor of the leftist culture magazine Eylül Sanat Edebiyat Dergisi (September Arts Literature Magazine), was being held at Edirne F Type Prison on charges of helping lead the outlawed Maoist Communist Party, or MKP. Authorities alleged that Süsem’s magazine produced propaganda for the party. If convicted, he faces up to 15 years in prison.

In a letter published in February 2012 by the independent news portal Bianet, Süsem he had been detained on MKP accusations and charged in February 2010. He said the evidence against him consisted of journalistic material such as books, postcards, and letters, along with accounts of his newsgathering activities such as phone interviews. Süsem made similar statements in a letter to the Justice Ministry that was cited in news accounts.

Süsem had started the magazine during an earlier imprisonment at Tekirdağ F Type Prison. The magazine featured poems, literature, and opinion pieces from imprisoned socialist intellectuals. After producing the initial four editions by photocopy from prison, Süsem transformed the journal into a standard print publication after his 2007 release from prison, circulating another 16 issues. Süsem’s earlier imprisonment stemmed from March 2000 allegations that he stole a police officer’s handgun that was later used in a murder. Süsem pleaded innocent to the gun theft and murder charges. The gun possession and related serious charges against Süsem were twice rejected by Turkey’s Supreme Court, which ruled-in 2005 and 2007-that there was no sufficient evidence to link Süsem to those alleged crimes. However, without new evidence, and after Süsem was imprisoned in 2010 on the propaganda charges, the Supreme Court reversed its initial stance and convicted him in 2011 on the previous gun theft, murder, and other charges. The court also reinstated a life sentence. The court proceedings that led to his conviction were marked by a number of inconsistencies. For example, in his Bianet letter, Süsem wrote that the police officer, whose stolen gun was later used in a number of crimes, testified that he was not the person who had stolen it. Witness descriptions of the suspect did not match the journalist, Süsem’s wife told CPJ. It is unclear if Süsem is appealing the life sentence. The trial on the MKP leadership charges was ongoing in late 2013.

Several members of the ultranationalist-leftist news website Odatv, including Küçük, were arrested in February and March 2011 on charges of having ties to the alleged Ergenekon plot, a shadowy conspiracy that authorities claimed was aimed at overthrowing the government through a military coup. Authorities charged all of the staffers with propagandizing on behalf of Ergenekon and lodged additional charges against some. Odatv features news and commentary that promotes an ultranationalist agenda from a Kemalist perspective and is harshly critical of its perceived opponents. The targets of its attacks include the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), the Fethullah Gülen religious community, the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), and liberals. Much of Odatv‘s critical commentary involves highly personal attacks. Küçük, an opinion writer for the site and for the daily Aydınlık, was accused of being a leader of the Ergenekon organization, inciting hatred, violating privacy rights, and disclosing classified military and intelligence documents. In court, Küçük said the charges were without basis. As evidence, authorities cited wiretapped phone conversations between Odatv staffers in which coverage was discussed. Authorities also cited as evidence a series of digital documents purportedly found on Odatv computers during a police raid on the news outlet. The authenticity of the documents has been challenged by the defense. A team from the Middle East Technical University in Ankara, which examined the evidence at the request of the defense, found that the computers contained Trojan files that left the machines vulnerable to outside manipulation. The team also found that the documents themselves were altered on the day of the police raid, further raising the possibility that the files could have been planted or manipulated. Authorities said the documents included an Ergenekon media strategy memo, an ultranationalist text describing the AKP as dangerous, and directions on covering the PKK, AKP, army generals, and the Ergenekon investigation. Authorities also cited two documents claiming that the well-known investigative reporter Nedim Şener, who received CPJ’s International Press Freedom Award in 2013, had helped a former regional police chief, Hanefi Avci, write a 2010 book alleging that the Gülen movement had infiltrated the police force. Another document claimed Şener was also helping investigative reporter Ahmet Şık write a book about the Gülen movement. Authorities used those documents to link Şener and Şık to the Ergenekon plot. The two were jailed for more than 12 months before being freed pending trial; they continued to face anti-state charges related to the plot. In August 2013, the 13th Court of Serious Crimes in Istanbul convicted at least 20 journalists, including Küçük, in the Ergenekon case, according to news reports. The journalists were handed different prison terms. Küçük was sentenced to 22 ½ years on charges of “founding or leading an armed terrorist organization,” which is what Ergenekon is considered, according to an updated list of imprisoned journalists provided by the Justice Ministry in November 2013 at CPJ’s request. Küçük was appealing the verdict before Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeals. The appeal was ongoing in late 2013. Küçük was serving his term at the Silivri L Type High Security Closed Prison No. 1 in Istanbul, according to the Justice Ministry’s updated list. Özlü, chief editor for the ultranationalist-leftist television station Ulusal Kanal (National Channel), was being held at Silivri L Type Closed Prison No. 1 in Istanbul on charges of participating in the Ergenekon conspiracy, a shadowy plot that prosecutors said was aimed at overthrowing the administration. According to the government’s indictment, the channel aired an audio recording made by Ergenekon conspirators. The recording purported to include a 2004 phone conversation between Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat in which the two discussed the sensitive issue of Cyprus’ political status. The indictment identified Ulusal Kanal as a media arm of Ergenekon. In August 2013, the 13th Court of Serious Crimes in Istanbul convicted Özlü of being a member of a terrorist organization, which is what Ergenekon is considered, and sentenced him to nine years in prison. Özlü was appealing the verdict before Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeals. The appeal was ongoing in late 2013.

Temel, former editor-in-chief and columnist for the Kurdish-language daily Azadiya Welat, was being held at Diyarbakır D Type High-Security Closed Prison on charges of being a member of the Union of Communities in Kurdistan, or KCK, of which the banned Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) is part. He faces more than 22 years in prison if convicted, according to a report by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. In a January 2012 letter to the independent news portal Bianet, Temel said he was being targeted for his journalistic activities. As evidence, the government cited wiretapped telephone conversations he had with colleagues and with members of the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP) and Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), Temel said. He said the government had wrongly described his work-related travels to Iraq as related to attendance at PKK meetings. “My articles, correspondences, headline discussions, and requests for news and visuals from reporters were defined as ‘orders’ and ‘organizational activity’ and I am accused of organization leadership,” Temel wrote, describing the government’s indictment. Another chief editor of Azadiya Welat-Mehmet Emin Yıldırım-was also imprisoned on similar charges. Temel’s trial was ongoing in Diyarbakır, southeastern Turkey, in late 2013. He had not testified in court by late year, his lawyer, Cemil Sözen, told CPJ.

Özgüneş, a veteran journalist and a columnist for the Kurdish-language daily Azadiya Welat, was being held at Silivri L Type High Security Closed Prison No. 2 in Istanbul, according to an updated list of imprisoned journalists provided by the Justice Ministry in November 2013 at CPJ’s request. According to the same list, Özgüneş is charged with membership in the banned Union of Communities in Kurdistan, or KCK, of which the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) is part; attempting to change the constitutional order by force; and making propaganda for the same banned organization. Özgüneş has written columns for Azadiya Welat on political, social, cultural, and economic issues since 2007 after writing for Kurdish magazines such as Tiroj and Zend since 1993. He is also a member of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party, or BDP. Authorities publicly claim that the pro-Kurdish media are aligned with the banned Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, and the KCK, an umbrella group of pro-Kurdish organizations that includes the PKK. The government says the journalists produce propaganda in favor of the banned organizations. Authorities would not allow Özgüneş to give statements in his native Kurdish, news accounts said. During questioning, authorities sought information about Özgüneş’ lectures at a BDP political academy, his conversations with the pro-PKK satellite station Roj TV, and his presence at a political demonstration, according to the indictment. Özgüneş’trial was ongoing in late 2013.

Abdullah Çetin, a reporter for the pro-Kurdish Dicle News Agency, or DİHA, in the southeastern province of Siirt, was being held at Siirt E Type Closed Prison, according to an updated list of imprisoned journalists provided by the Justice Ministry in November 2013 at CPJ’s request. According to the list, Çetin is charged with membership in an armed terrorist organization, the Kurdistan Workers Party or PKK. Authorities publicly claim that the pro-Kurdish media are aligned with the banned Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, and the KCK, an umbrella group of pro-Kurdish organizations that includes the PKK. The government says the journalists produce propaganda in favor of the banned organizations. The government’s indictment cited Çetin’s professional phone conversations as evidence, the Bianet independent news portal said. If convicted, he faces up to 15 years in prison, according to a report by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. The trial was ongoing in late 2013.

At least six editors and writers associated with the daily Özgür Gündem (The Free Agenda) were in prison on December 1, 2013, when CPJ conducted its annual prison census. They were arrested as part of a massive government roundup of journalists associated with pro-Kurdish news outlets in December 2011. Authorities said the sweep was related to their investigation into the banned Union of Communities in Kurdistan, or KCK, of which the banned Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) is part. According to the indictment, all of the main pro-Kurdish media and news agencies in Turkey are directed by the KCK. Kişin, Özgür Gündem editor, was being held at Kocaeli F Type High Security Closed Prison No. 1, according to an updated list of imprisoned journalists provided by the Justice Ministry in November 2013 at CPJ’s request. Kişin is charged with being a leader of the KCK press committee and taking orders from the imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan. As evidence, authorities cited three pro-Kurdish newspaper stories, one written by Kişin and two in which he was the subject. The prosecution also cited wiretapped telephone conversations in which Kişin spoke to people who wanted him to run obituaries for PKK members-Kişin declined because of legal constraints-and contributors seeking to publish articles in his newspaper. Kişin said his newspaper was a dissident publication but did not take orders from the KCK. Genç, a columnist, was being held at Bakırköy Women’s Closed Prison in Istanbul on charges of leading an armed terrorist organization, the KCK, according to the Justice Ministry’s updated list. Authorities, citing statements from other suspects, alleged that Genç was a “high-level” member of the KCK press committee and had participated in committee meetings in northern Iraq. Authorities also cited as evidence Genç’s notes about ethnic conflicts in Spain, South Africa, and Bolivia, along with her phone conversations with other journalists. Genç’s request that a writer do a piece about a World Peace Day demonstration in Turkey, for example, was considered by authorities to be an order serving the PKK. Genç said she did not participate in the KCK press committee and that her communications with other journalists were professional in nature. Erdemir, a reporter and editor, was being held at Bakırköy Women’s Closed Prison in Istanbul on charges of leading an armed terrorist organization, the KCK, according to the Justice Ministry’s updated list. Citing passport records and the statements of confidential witnesses, the government alleged that Erdemir participated in a KCK press committee meeting in Iraq in 2009. The indictment also cited as evidence her participation in a press conference in which Özgür Gündem editors protested police operations against Kurdish journalists, and an interview she conducted with a leader of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP). Erdemir disputed the charges. Demiral, a former editor, was being held at Bakırköy Women’s Closed Prison in Istanbul on the charge of being a member of an armed terrorist organization, the KCK. Citing passport records and the statement of a detained PKK member, authorities said Demiral participated in a 2005 KCK press meeting in Iraq. Authorities also cited the seizure of digital copies of banned books and a speech Demiral gave at a memorial ceremony that cast a deceased PKK member in a favorable light. Demiral denied any ties to the KCK and said she had traveled for journalistic purposes. Güler, a former editor, was being held at Bakırköy Women’s Closed Prison in Istanbul on the charge of being a member of an armed terrorist organization, the KCK, according to the Justice Ministry’s updated list. Citing passport records and documents seized from an accused KCK member, the government alleged that Güler participated in the organization’s press committee meetings in Iraq in 2003 and 2005, and had met with KCK leader Murat Karayılan. Güler told authorities she did not participate in any KCK meetings. Fırat, an editor and columnist for the paper, was being held at Kocaeli F Type High Security Closed Prison No. 1 in Kocaeli province on the charge of leading an armed terrorist organization, the KCK, according to the Justice Ministry’s updated list. Citing passport records, organization records, and the accounts of confidential witnesses, authorities alleged he participated in committee meetings in Iraq in 2003, 2005, and 2007. Authorities, who tapped Fırat’s phone conversations, said the journalist printed an article by KCK leader Karayılan, applying a penname that he had devised in conspiracy with another journalist. Fırat said his travel was for journalistic purposes and that he did not participate in KCK activities. In most cases, the journalists faced up to 15 years in prison if convicted. Their trial was ongoing at Istanbul’s Fifteenth Court of Serious Crimes at Silivri Prison in late 2013.

At least seven editors and reporters with the Dicle News Agency, or DİHA, who were arrested as part of a massive roundup of journalists associated with pro-Kurdish news outlets in December 2011, remained in prison on December 1, 2013, when CPJ conducted its global prison census. Authorities said the sweep was related to their investigation into the banned Union of Communities in Kurdistan, or KCK, of which the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) is part. According to the indictment, all of the main pro-Kurdish media and news agencies in Turkey are directed by the KCK. Alankuş, a translator and editor, was being held at Bakırköy Women’s Closed Prison in Istanbul on charges of leading an armed terrorist organization, the KCK, according to an updated list of imprisoned journalists provided by the Justice Ministry in November 2013 at CPJ’s request. Authorities alleged that Alankuş participated in a meeting of the KCK press committee in northern Iraq in September 2009, and used her position as a DİHA editor to broadcast directions from the PKK. Possession of banned magazines and books was also cited as evidence. Alankuş said she did not participate in the press committee meeting. Kırkaya, DİHA’s Ankara representative, was being held at Kocaeli F Type High Security Closed Prison No. 1 in Kocaeli province on charges of being a member of an armed terrorist organization, the KCK, and attempting to change the constitutional order by force, according to the Justice Ministry’s updated list. Authorities cited the statements of two confidential witnesses as evidence. The government also cited as evidence news reports by Kırkaya, including pieces about PKK militia allegedly killed by chemical weapons, articles addressing the Kurdish issue, and stories critical of the government. Calling Kırkaya a “so-called journalist” who worked under orders from convicted PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan, the indictment alleged that his reporting had furthered the aims of the KCK and had sought to manipulate public opinion. Kırkaya told authorities he had no connection to the KCK. Pekgöz, an editor, was being held at Kocaeli F Type High Security Closed Prison No. 2 on the charge of leading an armed terrorist organization, the KCK, according to the Justice Ministry’s updated list. Citing passport records and the statements of confidential witnesses, the government alleged that he participated in two KCK committee meetings in Iraq and that he met with KCK leader Murat Karayılan. Pekgöz said he met with Karayılan for journalistic purposes and denied the government’s allegations. Authorities, who tapped Pekgöz’s phone conversations, accused the editor of following KCK directives and relaying the organization’s orders to other journalists. The indictment said Pekgöz directed a pro-KCK agenda when he served as news editor for Günlük, the daily now known as Özgür Gündem. The indictment cited as evidence a phone conversation between Pekgöz and columnist Veysi Sarısözen concerning potential column topics, and Pekgöz’s efforts to recruit a writer to discuss the potential unification of socialist and leftist parties. The indictment said convicted PKK leader Öcalan supported the unification of the parties. Oyman, a reporter, was being held at Bakırköy Women’s Closed Prison on the charge of being a member of an armed terrorist organization, the KCK, according to the Justice Ministry’s updated list. Among the cited evidence were phone conversations with reporters in the field, banned books and magazines, and the news stories that she produced for DİHA. The indictment labeled her reporting as propaganda aimed at causing “disaffection for the state and sympathy for the organization.” Citing passport records and the accounts of two confidential witnesses, authorities also alleged that she participated in a KCK press committee meeting in Iraq in 2003 and had contact with İsmet Kayhan, a Fırat News Agency editor wanted by the government on charges of leading the KCK’s press committee in Europe. Oyman, who also worked as a reporter for Özgür Gündem, disputed the allegations. Bozkurt, an editor in DİHA’s Diyarbakır office, was being held at Kocaeli F Type High Security Closed Prison No. 1 on the charge of leading an armed terrorist organization, the KCK, according to the Justice Ministry’s updated list. As evidence, the indictment cited phone conversations in which Bozkurt relayed information to Roj TV. Authorities described Bozkurt’s reports as “false,” provocative, and designed to further the KCK’s aims. The indictment also faulted Bozkurt for ensuring news coverage of pro-Kurdish demonstrations, and for providing German ZDF TV with video of a PKK fighter’s funeral and army movements in southeast Turkey. Citing passport records and the account of a confidential witness, authorities alleged that Bozkurt took part in a KCK press committee meeting in Iraq in 2007 and had contact with Fırat’s Kayhan. Authorities said they seized banned books by convicted PKK leader Öcalan, along with photographs of PKK guerrillas and Turkish military intelligence. Bozkurt told prosecutors that his activities were journalistic and that he had no ties to the KCK. Nilgün Yıldız, a reporter, was being held at Bakırköy Women’s Closed Prison on the charge of being a member of an armed terrorist organization, the KCK, according to the Justice Ministry’s updated list. Citing passport records and the account of a confidential witness, authorities alleged that Yıldız participated in KCK press committee meetings in Iraq. Authorities also cited her news coverage as evidence. The indictment pointed to a story that recounted a Kurdish youth setting himself on fire to protest Öcalan’s imprisonment, which authorities called propaganda, and a piece that referred to a memorial service for a PKK member, which authorities said constituted a call for organization members to gather. Photographs of a PKK member’s funeral on her confiscated flash drive were also cited as evidence. Yıldız denied any wrongdoing. Özdemir, a reporter, was being held at Kocaeli F Type High Security Closed Prison No. 1 on the charge of being a member of an armed terrorist organization, the KCK, according to the Justice Ministry’s updated list. Citing passport records, email traffic, and the accounts of confidential witnesses, authorities alleged that Özdemir attended KCK committee meetings in Iraq, had contact with the Fırat editor Kayhan, and produced journalism that cast the group in a favorable light. Authorities said they intercepted encrypted electronic messages showing that Özdemir handled financial transfers for the KCK. Authorities also cited Özdemir’s news stories as evidence of culpability. Özdemir told authorities that his email messages involved news reporting and personal matters. Authorities confiscated books, CDs, a hard drive, cellphone, and a hunting rifle. Defense lawyer Özcan Kılıç told CPJ that the weapon was an antique handed down by his client’s grandfather; Özdemir was not charged with a weapons violation. In most cases, the journalists faced up to 15 years in prison if convicted. Their trial was ongoing in late 2013.

Deniz and Ermişwere in jail on December 1, 2013, when CPJ conducted its global prison census. They were arrested as part of a massive government roundup on December 2011 of journalists associated with pro-Kurdish news outlets. Authorities said the sweep was related to their investigation into the banned Union of Communities in Kurdistan, or KCK, of which the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) is part. According to the indictment, all of the main pro-Kurdish media and news agencies in Turkey are directed by the KCK. Deniz, a reporter for the socialist daily Evrensel, was being held at Kocaeli F Type High Security Closed Prison No. 1 in Kocaeli province on charges of being a member of an armed terrorist organization, the KCK; attempting to change the constitutional order by force; and producing propaganda in favor of the same organization, according to an updated list of imprisoned journalists provided by the Justice Ministry in November 2013 at CPJ’s request. Citing passport records, authorities alleged that Deniz had participated in KCK press committee meetings in Iraq in 2003, 2005, and 2009, and had met with KCK leader Murat Karayılan. The indictment said authorities had seized news reports, documents, and banned books from Deniz that allegedly linked him to the group. The indictment described one of the documents as a “report of the publishing board” of the daily Özgür Gündem, an internal document that authorities said had cast Öcalan in a favorable light and had described efforts to further the aims of his organization. Deniz, who had once worked for the pro-Kurdish Özgür Gündem, denied participating in KCK meetings and said his travel was for journalistic purposes. Ermiş, a member of the editorial board of the political bimonthly Özgür Halk ve Demokratik Modernite (Democratic Modernity), was being held at Bakırköy Women’s Closed Prison in Istanbul on charges of being a member of an armed terrorist organization, the KCK; and producing propaganda in favor of the same organization, according to the Justice Ministry’s updated list. Citing passport records, the indictment said Ermiş participated in a 2009 KCK press committee meeting. The government also said it had seized notes from her property that cast Öcalan and other PKK members in a favorable light. The indictment considered those notes as being taken during organizational training. Ermiş disputed the charges. The journalists face up to 15 years in prison if convicted. Their trial was ongoing at Istanbul’s Fifteenth Court of Serious Crimes at Silivri Prison in late 2013.

A court in Diyarbakır ordered Yıldırım, editor-in-chief of the Kurdish-language daily Azadiya Welat, to be held as part of an investigation into the Union of Communities in Kurdistan, or KCK, of which the banned Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) is part. Authorities alleged that the KCK directs all of the main pro-Kurdish media and news agencies in Turkey. Yıldırım was being held in Kocaeli F Type High Security Closed Prison No. 1 in Kocaeli province on charges of being a member of an armed terrorist organization, the PKK, and producing propaganda in favor of that organization, according to an updated list of imprisoned journalists provided by the Justice Ministry in November 2013 at CPJ’s request. As evidence, authorities cited conversations in which Yıldırım relayed information to the pro-PKK satellite station Roj TV. The indictment also faulted Yildirim’s news coverage for being critical of police operations against the KCK, insulting the government, and provoking Kurds to oppose the state. Authorities claimed notes and email traffic showed that Yıldırım executed orders from the KCK. For example, a list of toiletries and other items-shaving blades, a tube of toothpaste, a toothbrush, a digital radio, and batteries-was cited as evidence that Yıldırim was providing supplies to the PKK. Authorities would not allow Yıldırım to give a statement in his native Kurdish, which his defense lawyer, Özcan Kılıç, said was a violation of a defendant’s rights but one common in political cases. “They bring in a translator for cases such as narcotics trafficking, but they do not for these cases,” he said. Another chief editor of Azadiya Welat-Tayip Temel-was also imprisoned on similar charges. Yıldırım’s trial was ongoing at Istanbul’s Fifteenth Court of Serious Crimes at Silivri Prison in late 2013.

Sak, a veteran opinion writer and former chief editor for the Islamist weekly Baran, was summoned to serve a term of three years and nine months in prison after the Supreme Court of Appeals upheld in 2012 a conviction that dated back to 1999. Sak was convicted of being a member of the outlawed İslami Büyük Doğu Akıncılar Cephesi, or İslamic Great East Raiders Front; staging a protest; and possessing organizational documents, among other charges, according to an updated list of imprisoned journalists provided by the Justice Ministry in November 2013 at CPJ’s request. Sak’s defense lawyer, Güven Yılmaz, told CPJ that authorities cited as evidence Sak’s handwritten notes and the content of Akıncı Yol, the magazine he was editing at the time. Sak, the ministry said, was being kept at the Bolu F Type High Security Closed Prison in the city of Bolu.

Police detained Kılıç, reporter for the biweekly Yürüyüş (March), as part of a large crackdown by authorities on the outlawed Revolutionary People’s Salvation Party/Front (DHKP/C), of which she was accused of being a member. She denied the charges, which carry up to 10 years in prison. Her lawyer, Evrim Deniz Karatana, said the charges against her were based on secret witness testimonies as the sole evidence. Kılıç was targeted because she was an employee of a publication that opposes the government, Karatana said. Yürüyüş is a socialist revolutionary publication that focuses on politics, workers’ rights, and global politics. The publication uses harsh language in reference to the ruling AKP. Kılıç was under investigation and being held at Bakırköy Women’s Closed Prison in Istanbul, according to an updated list of imprisoned journalists provided by the Justice Ministry in November 2013 at CPJ’s request. No trial date had been set in late 2013.

Aydın, Şahin, and Keşkek were arrested as part of a large crackdown by the Turkish police against the outlawed Revolutionary People’s Salvation Party/Front (DHKP/C) in Istanbul. All of them were charged with being members of an armed terrorist organization-the DHKP/C-and producing propaganda in favor of the same organization, according to an updated list of imprisoned journalists provided by the Justice Ministry in November 2013 at CPJ’s request. Aydın, news editor of the quarterly Artı İvme (Positive Acceleration), was being held at Edirne F Type High Security Closed Prison in Edirne province; Şahin, an editor for the bimonthly Tavır (Attitude), was being held at Tekirdağ F Type High Security Closed Prison No. 1 in Tekirdağ province; and Keşkek, who co-edits Tavır along with Şahin, was being held at the Bakırköy Women’s Closed Prison in Istanbul, according to the Justice Ministry’s updated list. Their lawyer, Evrim Deniz Karatana, said the journalists had denied any ties to the DHKP/C. She said they were targeted because “they work for publications that oppose the government.” Artı İvme and Tavır are pro-socialist publications that are often highly critical of the government. Karatana said that the prosecution considered the publications the journalists work for as being under the supervision and orders of the DHKP/C-accusations that the journalists deny. Karatana also told CPJ that fabricated evidence in the form of false testimonies by undisclosed witnesses was the main basis of the charges against her clients. She said the journalists were beaten by the police during their detention. The journalists’ trial was ongoing at the 6th Court of Serious Crimes in Istanbul in late 2013. If convicted, Aydın, Şahin, and Keşkek face up to 15 years in prison.

Ünsal, reporter for the biweekly Yürüyüş (March), was detained as part of a large, official crackdown against the outlawed Revolutionary People’s Salvation Party/Front (DHKP/C). Ünsal was accused of being a member of the organization. The journalist denied the accusations. Ünsal was being held at Edirne F Type High Security Closed Prison in Edirne province, according to an updated list of imprisoned journalists provided by the Justice Ministry in November 2013 at CPJ’s request. Evrim Deniz Karatana, Ünsal’s lawyer, told CPJ that authorities had not filed official charges against Ünsal in late 2013, and no court date had been scheduled. If charged with being a member of the DHKP/C, he could face up to 10 years in prison. Karatana said the evidence against Ünsal was based on secret witness testimony and his presence at opposition gatherings, which he was covering as a journalist. Karatana said the accusations were in retaliation for Yürüyüş‘ criticism of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP)-run government. Yürüyüş is a socialist revolutionary publication that focuses on politics, workers’ rights, and global politics. The publication uses harsh language in reference to the ruling AKP. Ünsal had been detained by the police several times before on similar accusations of belonging to a banned organization. Karatana said that Ünsal was beaten by the police during his detention.

Hacıoğlu, reporter for the pro-Kurdish Dicle News Agency (DİHA), was arrested in Uludere District of Şırnak province. He was accused of being a member of the banned Union of Communities in Kurdistan, or KCK, of which the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) is part. Hacıoğlu was also accused of possessing of illegal firearms and bullets, according to an updated list of imprisoned journalists provided by the Justice Ministry in November 2013 at CPJ’s request. Hacıoğlu’s lawyer, Tırşenk Bartan told CPJ that the weapons accusation stemmed from the presence in the journalist’s family home of an old rifle, which belonged to his father. The journalist has denied any wrongdoing. Bartan told CPJ that Hacıoğlu was questioned about his phone conversations with sources, his reporting notes, and videos he had taken for newsgathering activities. DİHA, which is known as a pro-Kurdish news agency, often covers human rights issues, including those of the Kurdish minority. Bartan also said that Hacıoğlu was detained with several canned goods in his car, which authorities said was a form of logistic support to the Kurdish rebels. Bartan said that the journalist was taking the goods to a festival and had no ties to an outlawed organization. Hacıoğlu was being held in Mardin E Type Closed Prison. No formal charges had been filed against him in late 2013, a common practice in Turkey, for which it has often been criticized by international partners including the Council of Europe, of which it is a member. No trial date had been scheduled in late 2013.

An arrest order was issued for Yanardağ, chief editor of the pro-Republican People’s Party (CHP) daily Yurt and the weekly Bağımsız, after the Thirteenth Court of Serious Crimes in Istanbul sentenced him in absentia on August 5, 2013, to 10 years and six months in prison on charges of being a member of an armed terrorist organization, which is what Ergenekon is considered, according to an updated list of imprisoned journalists provided by the Justice Ministry in November 2013 at CPJ’s request. The alleged Ergenekon plot is a shadowy conspiracy that authorities claimed was aimed at overthrowing the government through a military coup. Yanardağ was detained by police in Bodrum District of Muğla Province on September 13, 2013, a month after his sentence was pronounced. When the Ergenekon investigation began, Yanardağ was a managing director at Kanal Biz, a television channel owned by Tuncay Özkan, a journalist and media manager sentenced to life without the possibility of parole in the Ergenekon case. Some of the accusations against Yanardağ refer to his work as a news manager at Kanal Biz, which according to authorities was a propaganda tool of Ergenekon. Among the activities cited as evidence in the indictment are Yanardağ’s booking of guests for television shows, managing the station’s programming schedule, organizing the order of appearance of studio guests, and working on programming scripts, according to CPJ’s review of the indictment. Yurt and Bağımsız share a pro-opposition editorial slant. Yurt, a daily newspaper, publishes hard news, while Bağımsız is a newsmagazine that focuses on analysis and commentary. Yanardağ’s lawyer, Serkan Gürel, told CPJ, “From the point of view of the court, his one truly negative action was to publish Yurt newspaper and Bağımsız magazine while the lawsuit against him was going.” Yanardağ is being held at Muğla E Type Closed Prison No. 1, according to the Justice Ministry’s updated list. His lawyers filed an appeal, but the appellate court had not ruled on the case in late 2013.

See also: https://www.cpj.org/reports/2013/12/second-worst-year-on-record-for-jailed-journalists.php

 

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