Turkish court sentences two top editors of closed Nokta newsweekly to 22 years

Journalists Cevheri Güven (R) and Murat Çapan.

A court in İstanbul has handed down a sentence of 22 years, six months to both Cevheri Güven and Murat Çapan, top editors of the Nokta magazine on Monday. The İstanbul 14th High Criminal Court sentenced both editors to prison for “inciting people to armed revolt against the Turkish government.”

Nokta, which specialized in in-depth investigative reporting, was closed on July 27, 2016, along with 130 other media outlets by government.

Cevheri Güven, the former editor-in-chief of the Nokta magazine, reacted to the decision, saying if the judges had not ruled as they did, they would have been jailed. “Former court judges were dismissed, one of them was arrested, my lawyer was also arrested, if the new judges did not hand down a sentence of 22 years, six months, they would have been jailed,” Güven said in a message posted on Twitter.

Sharing two covers of the Nokta magazine, Güven said: “I have been sentenced to 22.5 years. If the death penalty is reinstated, ‘reis’ [Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan] will get rid of all these numbers. Will he feed me in prison for 22.5 years instead of hanging me?”

Journalist Güven, who is currently living in exile, also said if he were to go to Turkey and surrender now, he would be freed at 60 years of age.

An indictment prepared by an İstanbul prosecutor in April seeks three consecutive life sentences on coup charges for 30 individuals who include journalists and executives from the now-closed Zaman daily.

The Zaman daily, which was affiliated with the faith-based Gülen movement, was first seized by the Turkish government in March 2016 and then closed down by government decree in the aftermath of a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

Last week, the İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office issued detention warrants for the owner Burak Akbay and reporter Gökmen Ulu as well as executives Melda Olgun and Yonca Kaleli of leading opposition newspaper Sözcü over alleged links to the faith-based Gülen movement, which is accused by the Turkish government of masterminding a failed coup attempt on July 15.

The European Union on Friday expressed worries about an operation in İstanbul targeting Sözcü.

Last Monday Cumhuriyet’s website editor Oğuz Güven, who was detained on May 12 for a report that appeared on the daily’s website about the recent traffic death of Denizli Chief Prosecutor Mustafa Alper in Turkey’s western province of Denizli, was arrested by an İstanbul court.


On Monday, CNN Türk presenter Nevşin Mengü was taken off the air by station management after remarks she made about President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s meeting with US President Donald Trump last week.

Mengü was the target of criticism in the pro-government media after she said, “He [Erdoğan] went in and he went out, 23 minutes in total,” during an evening news program last week as she referred to the short meeting between Erdoğan and Trump.

According to the Medyaradar news website, Mengü was relieved of her duties as the evening news anchor but will continue to work at CNN Türk.

“I’ll be back : ) See you soon,” she wrote in a tweet posted on Monday afternoon.

The Doğan media group, which owns the CNN Türk news channel, fired TV presenter İrfan Değirmenci in February after he announced that he would vote “no” in an April 16 referendum that expanded Erdoğan’s powers and opened the way to a switch from a parliamentary system of governance in Turkey to an executive presidency.


It has also been reported on Monday that Cumhuriyet daily’s jailed reporter Ahmet Şık has been denied access to his own book he intends to refer to in his defense before the court in charge. The book in question, titled, ‘Paralel Yürüdük Biz Bu Yollarda – We Walked Parallel On These Roads” examines the alleged power struggle and an ultimate fallout between the government and the Gülen movement that the government started to label ‘parallel structure’ within state bureaucracy.

Accused of links to the movement and some other outlawed groups, Şık asked from his relatives to send him a copy of his book. According to a report by Cumhuriyet daily, Şık has yet to get his book although his relatives handed it over to prison guards three weeks ago.


Meanwhile, businessman Ethem Sancak, owner of pro-government Akşam and Star dailies, has been elected to the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) Central Decision and Executive Board (MKYK) on Sunday. Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Edoğan was elected the new chairman of the AKP after a 998-day absence from the party, during the party’s third extraordinary congress held at the Ankara Sports Hall on Sunday.

Before the election, Erdoğan reshuffled the AKP’s MKYK, with 19 members of the 50-seat board changed. Sancak, known for the lucrative public tenders he won during the AKP term, is among the new figures who was elected to the party’s MKYK. The businessman once expressed his love for Erdoğan, saying, “I fell in love with Erdoğan the moment I first saw him.”

According to a report issued by the Turkish Journalists Association (TGC) on Friday, some 123 Turkish journalists are fugitives abroad, while 159 of them were in jail as of the end of April. However, in contrary to TGC’s figures the Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) has documented that 258 journalists now in jails as of May 21, most in pre-trial detention languishing in notorious Turkish prisons without even a conviction. Of those in Turkish prisons, 236 are arrested pending trial, only 22 journalists remain convicted and serving time in Turkish prisons.

An outstanding detention warrants remain for 105 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 coup attempt. (SCF with turkishminute.com) May 22, 2017


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