Court “erroneously” orders access bianet’s website to be blocked
The Ankara court rules to block access to 135 web sources, including Gazete Fersude, ETHA and website monitoring Gezi trial, upon complaint from Gendarmerie Command
The Ankara 3rd Criminal Judgeship of Peace has ruled for access to a total of 136 websites, web pages and social media accounts, including the entire website of independent news portal bianet to be blocked. Details pertaining to the court decision that were obtained by bianet’s lawyer later revealed that bianet.org was erroneously included in the list of URLs to be blocked although decision remains in effect for 135 other web addresses.
Among the websites blocked by the decision are those of news portal Gazete Fersude and Etkin News Agency (ETHA). The website geziyisavunuyoruz.org, which follows the trial of Osman Kavala and 15 others facing the charge of “attempting the overthrow the government” for their involvement in the Gezi protests, is also among those that were blocked for allegedly violating Turkey’s Internet law. Read the full article
The Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office launched an investigation against a group of media outlets, including independent news websites T24 and Diken, on the charge of “supporting a terrorist group without being its member” for reporting nearly five years ago on Twitter posts of an anonymous account called Fuat Avni.
T24 reported that the investigation was subject to a confidentiality order and that it was not clear what media outlets other than T24 and Diken were involved. It said editors and executives of T24 who worked there in 2014-2016 were summoned by the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office to give statements as part of the investigation.
Those summoned were asked questions on why they reported on Fuat Avni tweets, who prepared the reports and whether they had received any instructions to report on the tweets.
Fuat Avni account, which has since been deactivated, shared alleged secret information on dealings of then Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and other government members.
A regulation that gives Turkey’s radio and television watchdog RTÜK to supervise content streamed online formally went into effect on 1 August 2019, upon its publication in the Official Gazette.
The regulation, which raised concerns over possible censorship, makes it mandatory for online media content providers to obtain broadcasting licenses and permits from RTÜK, in return for significant sums. It also allows RTÜK to supervise content provided by them and introduce sanctions in case of non-compliance with broadcasting principles.
Streaming platforms like Netflix, local streaming platforms PuhuTV and BluTV will now be subject to RTÜK supervision and potential fines or loss of their license.
In addition to subscription services like Netflix, free online news outlets will also be subject to the same measures. Providers will be required to pay TL 10,000 to get a license to provide radio services while TV and subscription-based service providers will need to pay TL 100,000.
Turkish courts handed down sentences to 41 journalists in the first half of 2019
The Free Journalists Initiative (ÖGİ) has announced that the first six months of the year saw the trial of 287 journalists, 41 of whom were sentenced to a total of 119 years, three months in prison, the Artı Gerçek news website reporter.
The group released a report titled “Violations against journalists” for the first half of the year, focusing on the judicial pressures Turkish journalists are faced with while trying to perform their duty of informing the public.
The report said a total of 154 journalists were held in pre-trial detention during the period in question. 29 new investigations were launched and eight investigations turned into prosecutions. One media outlet was raided by the police. 34 journalists were detained and 11 were arrested, while 22 journalists were released and two were deported.
Turkish journalist shot in Adana in latest attack on Turkish press
The shooting of Hakan Denizli, founder of the local newspaper Egemen, in front of his home in Adana, is another in a string of attacks against Turkish press over the past two weeks, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) reported.
Denizli was hospitalised on Friday after being shot in the leg and the police are looking for his attacker, it said. The shooting is one of five attacks members of the Turkish press in the past two weeks alone.
"This brutal attack against Hakan Denizli--the fourth assault on a journalist in two weeks--appears to signal an alarming cycle of violence against critical voices in Turkey," it quoted CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Gulnoza Said, as saying. "We call on President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to strongly condemn the attacks and to instruct his law enforcement to bring those responsible to justice and to ensure the safety of journalists."
Other recent attacks on Turkish press include Ergin Çevik, chief editor of the local news website Güney Haberci, in the southern city of Antalya, on May 20; Selim Demirağ, a columnist for the nationalist daily Yeni Çağ, in Ankara, on May 10; and İdris Özyol, who was beaten outside the offices of his paper, Akdeniz'de Yeni Yüzyıl, also in Antalya on May 15, and former columnist with left-wing nationalist Turkish daily Aydınlık Sabahattin Önkibar on May 25.
CNN Türk betrays journalistic principles
CNN's Turkish sister channel, CNN Türk, is under fire over accusations of bias favouring Turkey's ruling party ahead of March 31 local polls, while CNN casts itself as a defender of press freedom, Financial Times reported on Friday.
CNN Türk rejected accusations of pro-government bias and said those who criticise the Turkish channel are doing activism, not journalism, the Financial Times said.
“Colleagues who criticise us lost their objectivity and (are) doing activism, not journalism. We deny these allegations and try to keep our unbiased and balanced position. We are fair and impartial,” CNN Türk said in a response to questions from the Financial Times.
Pro-government media conglomerate Demirören in early 2018 purchased the Doğan Media Group, which also owns CNN Türk, a move which was seen by many as a significant shift for Turkey's media landscape. Dozens of renowned journalists were fired by CNN Türk as soon as it changed hands. Read the full article
23 May 2019:
Turkish police seize the passport of Turkish-German journalist Tolu’s husband
Kurdish-German journalist Meşale Tolu said on Wednesday that Turkish authorities had seized the passport of her husband, who came from Germany to Turkey to attend the trial in which the couple and 25 other defendants are charged with terror offences.
After spending more than eight months in prison with her two-year old son, Tolu, who faces up to 15 years in prison, was released in December 2017 under judicial controls, including a travel ban.
Her husband, Suat Çorlu, a journalist and political activist, was initially detained with Tolu but released one month earlier also under judicial control. Read the full article
Turkish presidency takes control of national Anadolu Agency
Management of Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency has been transferred to the Presidency’s Directorate of Communications, the Turkish government’s official gazette announced on Friday.
The decree signed by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan means power to audit the national news agency, appoint administrators and manage its activities, budget, and human resources will now lie with the presidency’s communications directorate.
The latest move is likely to make Fahrettin Altun, the Presidency Communications Director, one of the most influential figures at the agency.
An academic known for his work at government friendly think tank SETA and regular columns for pro-government newspapers, Altun was named as the communications director last July.
Altun has spoken of his desire to encourage a “native and national” culture in Turkey in line with the Justice and Development Party (AKP)’s vision of Turkish nationalism and free from the influence of “Westernist ideologies”.
The Presidency Directorate of Communications also oversees Turkey’s national broadcaster, TRT, and the media regulatory body, the Radio and Television Supreme Council.
Anadolu Agency is the main source for results on election nights in Turkey, a status that led to controversy on the night of the March 31 local elections when the agency abruptly stopped updating results as the opposition candidate was poised to take the lead in Istanbul.
The next morning the Supreme Election Council chairman told reporters Anadolu Agency had not received data on the count from the council, raising suspicions that it received its data directly from AKP officials at polling stations.
The Journalists' Union of Turkey (TGS) has reported that 74 journalists were sentenced to a total of 256 years in prison in 12 months alone, news website Artı Gerçek reported. Three of the journalists received life sentences, the union said.
Four out of five journalists who faced trial in the country received prison sentences and journalists were fined a total of 170 million Turkish liras ($28,5 million) over their work, the union said in a statement on Friday, which marked World Press Freedom Day.
"In recent years, the increasing pressure on journalists, the government’s taking control over the media and the imprisonment of 142 journalists have ended press freedom in the country," the TGS said. The group also said the Turkish authorities had cancelled 1954 press cards in the last three years.
"Turkey is again the world's biggest prison for professional journalists"
In the index published today (April 25), the freedom of press in Turkey was evaluated as follows:
"The witch hunt waged by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government against its media critics has come to a head since an abortive coup in July 2016. A state of emergency has allowed the authorities to eliminate dozens of media outlets with the stroke of a pen, reducing pluralism to a handful of low-circulated and targeted publications. Turkey is again the world's biggest prison for professional journalists, with members of the press spending more than a year in prison before trial and long jail sentences becoming the new norm—in some cases, journalists are sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of a pardon.
Some articles from 2018-2019: