Istanbul court issues access bans on 30 news reports upon request of radical Islamist HÜDA-PAR

The Istanbul 8th Criminal Court of Peace in one week issued access bans on 30 news reports upon the request of the radical Islamist Free Cause Party (HÜDA-PAR), a political arm of Kurdish Hizbullah and an ally of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

According to journalist Fatih Altaylı, the court issued several access bans on news reports criticizing HÜDA-PAR, including one carrying his byline. The article in question had revealed that a member of the radical Islamist terrorist organization Hizbullah was threatening to kill government critics in southeastern Batman province.

In a street interview a man named Ismail Cevher Kasımoğlu threatened to behead government critics. Despite public outrage, government officials did not issue a statement or file a complaint against Kasımoğlu.

In response to the incident, Altaylı questioned why authorities had refrained from condemning the threat and asked if the government was afraid of upsetting its ally, HÜDA-PAR. “The Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Justice are quick to launch investigations into government critics, saying they’re inciting hatred and enmity among the people,” he said. “What’s keeping them from investigating this man who is leveling threats?”

Altaylı said it was worrisome that HÜDA-PAR was repeatedly requesting access bans from the same criminal court of peace. “Such access bans are naturally issued by criminal courts of peace; however, I find it worrying that the same court issued 30 bans in such a short period of time,” he said. With a note of irony he also said, “This must be freedom of the press.”

HÜDA-PAR endorsed the president in an April 16, 2017 referendum that gave President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan huge powers. All convicted and charged Kurdish Hizbullah members have been released from jail in recent years thanks to Erdoğan’s reshuffling of the judiciary through which Islamists were put into key positions.

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