Turkey Crackdown Chronicle: Week of January 22

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan addresses local government officials in Ankara, January 19, 2017. (Yasin Bulbul/Presidential Press Service/Pool via AP)

Government closes two TV channels by decree
The Turkish government closed two television stations that catered to a largely Shia Muslim audience by emergency decree today. The third article of Decree 683, published in Turkey’s Official Gazette early this morning, ordered broadcasters kanal 12 and on4 closed for “acting against national security.”

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The decree, which also imposed regulations on financial markets and fired public employees, was one of four new decrees the government issued early this morning. Decree 685 established a commission to hear appeals from individuals, associations of various kinds, and media organizations affected by emergency measures imposed after a failed military coup in July 2016. Those affected by actions taken under the state of emergency previously had no legal recourse.

Decree 684 curtailed the amount of time authorities may detain a suspect without access to a judge from the month allowed by Decree 667 to a week, and revoked a previous emergency decree’s authority to deny suspects the right to see a lawyer during the first five days of detention. Decree 682 changed the regulations governing the discipline and firing of security officials.

Court jails wire reporter pending terrorism trial
A court on January 20 ordered Abdullah Kaya, a reporter for the shuttered Dicle News Agency (DİHA), jailed pending trial on charges of “being member of a [terrorist] organization,” the news website Dihaber reported. Police detained Kaya from his home in the Diyadin district of the eastern province of Van on December 18; CPJ reported at the time. The journalist and seven other people police detained from their homes the same day, are jailed in Ağrı Prison.

Police detain newspaper distributor without access to lawyer
Police in Turkey’s eastern Van Province on January 20 detained Hasan Duman, a distributor for the pro-Kurdish newspapers Özgürlükçü Demokrasi and Rojeva Medya, the news website Dihaber reported the following day. According to a subsequent report, police detained him on suspicion of “being a member of a [terrorist] organization” and “aiding and abetting a [terrorist] organization,” and the local prosecutor’s office ordered that he be held without access to a lawyer for five days, the report said (today’s decree cancelling prosecutors’ power to hold suspects without access to a lawyer was not retroactive).

Real estate developer threatens journalist
Mesut Sancak, a real-estate developer with good relations with the government, threatened Nivent Kurtuluş, a columnist for the newspaper Gazete-Temiz and the Temiz Izmir Association, an anti-corruption advocacy group, regarding allegations she had made that Sancak had benefited from government incentives to develop tourism in the resort city of Çeşme but had constructed housing instead, the daily newspaper Sözcü reported.

According to Sözcü‘s report, Kurtulmuş was at a police station when Sancak called, and the journalist both recorded the conversation and allowed the police to listen on speakerphone. In that conversation, Sözcü reported, Sancak swore at the journalist, told her to not to write anymore, and threatened to use his police contacts to have her jailed. Sözcü reported that police called Sancak to the police station to testify regarding the journalist’s complaint.

[January 23, 2017]