An İstanbul court has decided for continuation of the imprisonment of 10 out of 13 journalists following a Turkish prosecutor has asked for a continuation of the arrest of 12 out of 13 journalists who are accused of taking part in or supporting a controversial coup attempt in Turkey last year, on Friday. Jounalists Cihan Acar and Bünyamin Köseli were released by the sam court with condition of judicial probe.
The journalists, who are charged with participation in the coup, stod trial at the İstanbul 25th High Criminal Court. Reacting to the prosecutor’s demand on his Twitter account, human rights lawyer Kerem Altıparmak said: “How can a prosecutor ask otherwise? The prosecutor who asked for their release and the board who decided to release them were dismissed; nobody knows what happened to them.”
Requesting dismissal, journalist Ali Akkuş, who was released after being detained, denied claims about being a ByLock user and said it was not possible for him to know whether people he talked to on the phone were ByLock users.
“Four of the ByLock users I talked to are my colleagues. I learnt from my father that one of them is a man from our village, I don’t know him. The allegations against me are no different than those of the previous investigation. I am requesting dismissal of the case since a second hearing on the same issue is not possible,” said Akkuş.
ByLock, a smart phone application, is seen as a sign of being a member of the Gülen movement. The mobile phone application ByLock is considered to be the top communication tool among members of the group.
Denying claims of having travelled abroad, journalist Yetkin Yıldız said he does not have a passport and he has never been abroad.
“I have two indictments. I see that those two indictments are the same. I am standing trial on the same accusation, membership in a terrorist organization on the one hand and coup charges on the other. … Phone records were mentioned as references for the crime. A journalist talks to everyone as required by his or her job. That is why it is strange to ask a journalist these questions,” said Yıldız.
Journalists who were accused of membership in the faith-based Gülen movement in another investigation into Gülen-affiliated media were acquitted after the first hearing yet were detained again before their release due to another investigation into coup participation.
The prosecutor and the judges who released the journalists were dismissed.
An indictment drafted by the İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office that sought two consecutive life sentences for the 13 journalists on coup charges was accepted by the 25th High Criminal Court in İstanbul.
The indictment revealed that the suspects are accused of membership in a terrorist organization due to their stories, critical tweets and retweets and of attempting to destroy the constitutional order and attempting to overthrow the government of the Republic of Turkey.
The journalists named in the indictment are National Party (UP) leader and Türk Solu weekly columnist Gökçe Fırat Çulhaoğlu, Yakup Çetin, Bünyamin Köseli, Cihan Acar, Abdullah Kılıç, Oğuz Usluer, Hüseyin Aydın, Murat Aksoy, Mustafa Erkan Acar, Seyit Kılıç, Yetkin Yıldız, Ali Akkuş and pop singer and journalist Atilla Taş.
Turkey is ranked 155th out of 180 countries in Reporters Without Borders (RSF) 2017 World Press Freedom Index. The situation of media in Turkey has become critical under the state of emergency proclaimed after the coup attempt.
Turkey is the biggest jailer of journalists in the world. The most recent figures documented by the Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) has showed that 282 journalists and media workers are now in jails as of August 18, 2017, most in pre-trial detention languishing in notorious Turkish prisons without even a conviction. Of those in Turkish prisons, 257 are arrested pending trial, only 25 journalists remain convicted and serving time in Turkish prisons. An outstanding detention warrants remain for 135 journalists who live in exile or remain at large in Turkey.
Detaining tens of thousands of people over alleged links to the movement, the government also closed down more than 180 media outlets after the controversial coup attempt. Turkey’s Contemporary Journalists’ Association (ÇGD) recently announced that more than 900 press cards were cancelled. (SCF with turkishminute.com)