Turkey: numerous journalists in court this week

Turkish courts this week handed down several prison sentences against journalists and decided to keep others in detention after adjourning their trial. The International and European Federation of Journalists (IFJ / EFJ) have demanded the immediate release of the detained journalists and the dropping of charges against the ones still facing the court.

A Turkish national flag flies in front of Caglayan Justice Palace in Istanbul on July 18, 2019. Credits: Ozan KOSE / AFP

On 16th July, Deniz Yücels’ trial was adjourned for the fourth time until 17th October 2019, although the court has already published its judgment qualifying Yücels’ one-year-detention as ‘unlawful’. The correspondent for the German newspaper Die Welt was detained on 14th February 2017 and charged with “sedition and propaganda for a terrorist organization." 

On 18th July, a court sentenced filmmaker Çayan Demirel and journalist Ertuğrul Mavioğlu to four and a half years in jail for alleged terrorist propaganda. The charges relate to the movie Bakur, shot during the 2013-2015 peace talks between the Turkish government and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party’s (PKK). 

The same day, managing editor Harun Çümen, formerly working for Zaman newspaper, was sentenced to seven and a half years in jail. In his fourth hearing, the court found him guilty of “membership of a terrorist group.”

That day, Jin News journalist Kibrye Evren was also further detained in jail, adjourning her trial until the 24th September. She was detained for “membership of a terrorist organisation" and "terrorist propaganda”. On 16th December 2018, the journalist went on hunger strike for 162 days. 

Journalist Uğur Yılmaz’s trial was also adjourned until 29th August 2019. He has been detained since July 2017 on charges of “membership of a terrorist organization” and "terrorist propaganda”.

In a rare bit of good news, on 17th July, Erol Önderoğlu was acquitted of terror propaganda charges along with activist Şebnem Korur Financı and journalist Ahmet Nesin. IFJ and EFJ welcomed this victory against impunity but recalled that Erol Önderoğlu will face another trial starting on 7th November, again with terrorist propaganda charges.

According to IFJ affiliate, the Journalists’ Union of Turkey (TGS), at least 134 journalists are currently detained in Turkey, which makes the country one of the biggest prisons for media workers in the world.

For more information, please contact IFJ on +32 2 235 22 16

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 146 countries

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