Turkey Crackdown Chronicle: Two journalists held on terror charges; Human rights activists freed pending trial

By Özgür Öğret/CPJ Turkey Representative

People and soldiers visit the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk during a ceremony marking the 95th anniversary of Victory Day in Ankara, Turkey August 30, 2017. Turkish authorities on October 21 released three journalists who they detained last week during house raids that targeted leftist and pro-Kurdish media in Ankara. (Reuters/Umit Bektas)

Two journalists held on terror charges
An Istanbul court yesterday ordered two journalists from the socialist Etkin News Agency (ETHA) to be jailed pending trial, alongside 10 other people including politicians and lawyers, their employer reported today.

Police detained İsminaz Temel, an editor, and Havva Cuştan, a reporter, during a house raid at 2 a.m. local time on October 19, CPJ documented last week. The court charged Temel with “being member of a [terrorist] organization” and “making propaganda for a [terrorist] organization” and Cuştan for the latter. Police threatened the journalists while in detention, according to their lawyers. The lawyers said that evidence included stories the journalists produced and books that were confiscated from the house that they shared. Authorities are also affiliating ETHA with the outlawed group the Marxist Leninist Communist Party (MLKP), the lawyers said.

Human rights activists freed pending trial
A court yesterday ordered that eight remaining human rights defenders who were detained along with three others after a training session at a hotel on Büyükada, an island off Istanbul, be released pending the conclusion of their trial, Bianet and The Telegraph reported. The group is charged with “committing crimes in the name of a [terrorist] organization without being a member” and or “being a member of an armed terrorist organization.” Those freed by the court yesterday are Ünal Kurşun, İlknur Üstün, İdil Eser, Nalan Erkem, Peter Steudtner, Özlem Dalkıran, Ali Garawi, and Veli Acu. The court banned Dalkıran and Acu from foreign travel for the duration of the trial. The next hearing is scheduled for November 22.

An Ist court ruled today that the case of Taner Kılıç, chair of Amnesty Turkey who was arrested as part of a trial about “financing terrorism” in Izmir, will be merged with that of the human rights defenders, according to Bianet and Amnesty. Kılıç’s case will be transferred from the 16th İzmir Court of Serious Crimes to the 35th Court in Istanbul.

Birgün reporter detained overnight
Police detained Zeynep Kuray, a reporter for the socialist daily Birgün, at her home in Istanbul last night, Bianet and her employer reported. The journalist was detained over her social media activity, which authorities considered “terrorism propaganda,” according to the reports. She was released after appearing before a prosecutor today, according to reports. The reports did not state if she will still face charges.

For more updates on Turkey, visit our Turkey Crackdown Chronicle here.