66 journalists are currently in Turkish prisons; eleven of them by reason of their writings and oral statements in the third quarter of 2011. In the previous quarter a total of 68 journalists were in prison, twelve of whom were detained for their news, writings and speeches.
Journalists who went to prison till October were Azadiya Welat newspaper editor-in-chiefs Vedat Kurşun, Ruken Ergün and Ozan Kılınç; Azadiya Welat Batman representative Deniz Kılıç; Dicle News Agency (DİHA) Batman representative Erdoğan Altan; Diyarbakır representative Kadri Kaya; Batman Post newspaper writer Mehmet Karabaş; Aram Publishing Concessionaire and Hawar newspaper official Bedri Adanır; Devrim Yolunda İşçi Köylü ('Workers and Peasants on a Revolutionary Path') newspaper editor-in-chief Barış Açıkel and university students Berna Yılmaz and Ferhat Tüzer.
Nine journalists and two university students stood trial or are still facing prosecution under Article 7/2 of the Anti-Terror Law on "propaganda for an illegal organization" based on their writings, news reporting, publications and oral statements.
55 journalists are imprisoned in the context of certain trials, operations and investigations: "Union of Kurdish Communities" (KCK), the militant Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and the Revolutionary Patriotic Youth (DYG) (20); "Ergenekon" (16); Party and Revolutionary Front for the Liberation of the Turkish People (DHKP-C) (7); "Revolutionary Headquarters" (2); "Turkey's People's Liberation Party-Front (THKP-C) Revolutionary Path" (1) and the "Resistance Movement" (1). One journalist is being tried on charges of "affiliation with an illegal organization" while the name of the organization has not been disclosed in the indictment.
The indictments for ten detained journalists have not been announced yet. They are waiting for the date of their first hearing without knowing what charges are being pressed against them.
The Media Monitoring Report for July-August-September 2011 by the Independent Communication Network (BİA) Media Monitoring Desk categorizes events as "Murdered Journalists", "Journalists in Prison", "Attacks, Threats and Obstructions", "Investigations, new/pending Trials and Decisions", "TCK 285; 288: How many Thousand Trials?", "Trials concerning Insults and Personal Rights", "The Prime Ministerial Board for the Protection of Minors from Harmful Publications", "Closures and Confiscations", "Regulations, Effects, Reactions, Legal Remedies", "European Court of Human Rights - Applications and Decisions" and "RTÜK Reprimands".
The Media Monitoring Report reveals that its contents are on the agenda of journalism organizations and human rights organizations in Turkey and abroad and of international institutions as subject of their protests, announcements, reports and meetings. This concerns first of all Article 7/2 of the Anti-Terror Law (TMK) regarding restrictions of freedom of expression and press freedom, investigations and trials related to freedom of expression, long detention periods and the number of imprisoned journalists. Furthermore, these organizations and institutions took special notice of Articles 215 (praising offences and offenders), 220 (establishing organizations for the purpose of criminal activity), 285 (violation of confidentiality), 288 (attempt to influence a fair trial) and 314(alliance for offence) of the Turkish Criminal Law (TCK).
Journalists and freedom of expression circles marked this period by all kinds of protests and particularly street demonstrations against imprisonment and prosecution of journalists.
Journalism and human rights organizations called for the necessary legal amendments of problematic provisions of the TMK and the TCK especially with regard to the Kurdish question but also concerning the withdrawal of the democratic threshold for a free environment of debate and news reporting. Moreover, they called for the immediate release of detained journalists.
Furthermore, international journalism and human rights organizations and international institutions urged to remove obstacles before freedom of expression in Turkey in their statements.
224.5-year prison threat under TMK
Within three month, 13 people, including eight journalists, were facing imprisonment of 224.5 years in total under allegations of "propaganda for an illegal organization" according to Article 7/2 of the TMK. The owner of a printing house was sentenced to one year behind bars on the grounds of TMK 7/2.
During the time of the previous quarterly report, nine journalists were sentenced to imprisonment of 44 years and 8.5 months and monetary fines amounting to TL 36,280 (€ 12,500) on charges of "propaganda for an illegal organization" (TMK 7/2).
These prosecutions under Article 7/2 of the TMK usually come together with charges related to Articles 220/7 (aiding and abetting an illegal organization) and 314/2 (enlisting to an organized criminal group) of the TCK.
Journalists Ahmet Şık and Nedim Şener are facing imprisonment of up to 15 years each in the scope of the Oda TV trial; Soner Yalçın might receive a prison sentence of up to 36.5 years, Yalçın Küçük of up to 43 years. The other defendants are facing prison terms of between 7.5 and 23 years.
Trials on the grounds of alleged insult are pending against seven people, five of whom are journalists, in July, August and September 2011. Four people prosecuted on charges of "insult" and attacks on "personal rights" are facing prison sentences of five years in total and compensation claims summing up to TL 20,000 (€9,500). One journalist was found guilty of "insult" and sentenced to a monetary fine of TL 7,500 (€3,500) and a professional ban of 375 days.
In the preceding quarter, 35 people were tried upon compensation claims based on charges of "insult" and attacks on "personal rights". Eight people were handed down prison terms of nine years and four months in total. Five people were to pay compensation fines of TL 29,860 (€ 14,500) including three fines sued out by Prime Minister Erdoğan.
Closures and Seizures
During the three months of the third annual quarter, the Özgür Halk ve Demokratik Modernite ('Free People and Democratic Modernity) magazine, the Yeni Evrede Mücadele Briliği ('Union of Struggle in a new Phase') magazine, the Yeni Demokrat Gençlik ('New Democratic Youth') magazine and the Halkın Günlüğü ('Agenda of the People') newspaper were subject to prohibitions, seizures and publication bans. The book entitled "Öcalan's Days on İmralı" by Cengiz Kapmaz was seized despite a lacking decision for its confiscation. The draft version of the second volume of the book entitled "A Fugitive's Story from Metris to Munzur" of then detained writer Halil Gündoğan was confiscated and destroyed.
ECHR - Applications and Decisions
Between July and September, six journalists applied to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on the grounds of violations of their rights to a "fair trial", to "freedom and security", "freedom of expression" and "effective application".
In the duration of the previous report, the ECHR convicted the Turkish government due to violations of Article 6/1 (assumption of innocence) of the European Convention on Human Rights in two cases. The international court decided for monetary fines totalling € 9,720 in compensation.
In July-August-September 2011, the Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) issued 16 monetary fines and 96 reprimands to one radio station and 109 TV channels.
RTÜK gave five warnings because the protective symbol for children and juveniles had not been used; 8 reprimands by reason of violations of "human dignity and privacy"; 4 warnings for the use of "improper Turkish"; 2 warnings on the grounds of a violation of the assumption of innocence and five reprimands based on violations of the principle that "people shall not be exploited through fortune telling and superstitious beliefs". The remaining reprimands were related to technical and commercial issues regarding advertisement, sponsorship or program support. (EG/BA/VK)