Turkey Crackdown Chronicle: Week of July 10

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Prosecutors interrogate journalist on suspicion of ‘insulting the president’

Prosecutors in Istanbul yesterday interrogated İhsan Çaralan, a columnist for the socialist daily Evrensel, on charges of “insulting the president” in connection with a May 31 article in the beleaguered, pro-Kurdish daily newspaper Özgür Gündem, Evrensel reported. Çaralan had symbolically acted as co-editor of Özgür Gündemon May 30 to protest authorities’ relentless judicial harassment of the newspaper’s staff. Çaralan also faces charges of “propagandizing for a [terrorist] organization” in connection with his participation in the solidarity campaign. He denied both charges, Evrensel reported.

[July 15, 2016]

TV station leaves government-controlled satellite operator

Turkish satellite television station Can Erzincan TV on July 12 announced it would no longer broadcast using government-controlled satellite operator Türksat, but would now broadcast from the Hot Bird constellation of satellites, which are run by the French company Eutelsat. Türksat is the most-used satellite service in Turkey. The station’s decision to decamp means most viewers in Turkey will no longer be able to view its broadcasts.

The station is sympathetic to the Hizmet movement, followers of Fethullah Gülen, a preacher whom the Turkish government accuses of maintaining a terrorist organization and “parallel state structure” within Turkey from his self-imposed exile in the United States.

The government of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), which was formerly in a tactical alliance with the Hizmet movement, has moved to take over and close pro-Hizmet media outlets in recent months. Can Erzincan TV was the last remaining pro-Hizmet television station on Türksat. The operator in February 2016 stopped carrying the signal of pro-Kurdish station IMC TV, following an order from Ankara prosecutors.

Media mogul in court

Turkish media owner Aydın Doğan on June 13 appeared in an Istanbul court to defend himself against charges of tax evasion. According to Hürriyet Daily News, which is owned by his company, Doğan Media, the businessman and 46 other suspects are charged with understating the value of imported fuel between 2001 and 2007 to evade taxes.

In remarks carried by his news agency, Doğan denied the charges, calling them “baseless.”

Doğan Media Group, a branch of the Doğan Holding, was the biggest media group in Turkey before it sold some of its holdings to pro-government figures. That decision followed the government’s levying of a US $2.5-billion-dollar tax fineagainst the company in 2009.

Thirteen international groups call on Turkey to drop charges against journalists

The Committee to Protect Journalists today joined 13 nongovernmental organizations in calling on Turkish authorities to release imprisoned journalist Mehmet Baransu, and to drop all charges against three of his former colleagues from the daily Taraf — editor Ahmet Altan, deputy editor Yasemin Çongar, and reporter Yıldıray Oğur – as well as a fifth journalist, Tuncay Opçin.

If convicted, the five each face a maximum of 75 years in prison on charges of exposing state secrets and membership in a terrorist organization.

The full statement can be found on the website of the free-expression group PEN International.

[July 14, 2016]

*The original version of this article was published on CPJ website on July 14, 2016.

Turkey Crackdown Chronicle: Week of July 10

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