104 Journalists and 30 Distributors in Prison
104 journalists and 30 distributors went to jail until the end of 2011. The journalists are in prison under allegations of affiliations with illegal organizations in the scope of the Anti-Terror Law and the Turkish Criminal Law. 94 out of these 134 press workers are from Kurdish media outlets.
104 journalists and 30 distributors/media workers were imprisoned until the end of 2011. Journalists took the street to struggle for the release of their colleagues who were jailed in 2011and pursued the fight for legal remedies and the right to a fair trial at court.
In 2010, 30 journalists were imprisoned.
Year of mass arrests
2011 was the year of mass arrests of journalists with an approach that eliminated the principle of legality regarding the handling of crimes. The right to a fair trial was ignored. In the scope of the Turkish Criminal Law (TCK) and the Anti-Terror Law (TMK) every journalist who was facing an investigation encountered a concept that replaced the term "legal" by "political" by alleging "connections to an illegal organization", may that be "armed" or "un-armed".
104 journalists and 30 distributors/media workers were initially "arrested" on charges of "membership in an armed organization" based on journalism. Later on, trial procedures started against them under allegations of "committing a crime on behalf of an illegal organization without being a member of the organization" and/or "knowingly and willingly assisting the organization while being a part of the hierarchical structure of the organization". Some journalists also stand accused of having established, managed and administrated an armed or un-armed illegal organization or of membership of an illegal organization. A number of these journalists and media workers were convicted.
Journalists were considered "terrorists" on the grounds of additional allegations like following up news and news coverage, writing books, publishing critical stories about the political power/ government or working for a Kurdish media outlet.
Allegations rarely based on news directly
Only six journalists are charged and prosecuted with direct regard to their news, writings and books in the criminal cases pending against them: Azadiya Welat newspaper editors-in-chief Vedat Kurşun, Ruken Ergün and Ozan Kılınç; Dicle News Agency (DİHA) Batman representative Erdoğan Altan; Diyarbakır representative Kadri Kaya and Aram Publishing concessionaire and Hawar newspaper official Bedri Adanır.
Even though the arrest of a person is a precautionary measure and can be replaced by deciding for judicial control instead, criteria such as "danger of flight", "destroy, conceal or change evidence", "pressure on witnesses" or "strong suspicion of crime" were applied as ordinary means and by routine. Hence, these applications formed the basis for the arrest of journalists and for keeping them in detention for months and even years.
Exclusively based on TMK and TCK
All journalists and media workers are in jail related to alleged affiliations with an 'illegal organization' in the scope of the TMK and the TCK. 64 out of 100 journalists and all of a total of 30 distributors are from Kurdish media outlets.
27 out of 104 jailed journalists are convicted; the trials of 34 of them are still pending. On 31 December 2011, 43 detained journalists were still waiting for their indictments to be disclosed.
Four journalists received life sentences. 23 journalists were sentenced to imprisonment of 167 years and ten months in total.
DİHA, Azadiya Welat, Özgür Gündem...
26 journalists of the Dicle News Agency (DIHA) are currently incarcerated in prisons in Turkey; twelve from the Azadiya Welat newspaper; eleven from the Özgür Gündem newspaper; three from the Özgür Halk magazine; two from the Demokratik Modernite magazine; one from Gün TV and one from Radio Dünya.
One journalist from the Birgün newspaper and the manager of the Etik Agency are waiting for their indictments to be announced.
Sections of the Media Monitoring Report
The 39-page BİA Media Monitoring annual report contains the following sections: "Murdered Journalists", "Journalists in Prison", "Attacks, Threats and Obstructions", "Investigations, new/pending Trials and Decisions", "Articles 285 and 288 TCK", "Trials concerning Insults, Personal Rights and Compensation Claims", "The Prime Ministerial Board for the Protection of Minors from Harmful Publications", "Bans, Closures and Confiscations", "Regulations, Effects, Reactions, Legal Remedies", "European Court of Human Rights" and "RTÜK".
According to the BİA Media Monitoring 2011 annual report, journalists became the subject of about 33 attacks, threats and incidents of beating throughout 2011.
In 2010, 27 journalists were attacked or eggs were thrown at them as a means of protest. Ten journalists were threatened in the previous year.
93 people faced prison terms of 1735 years
In 2011, 93 people were facing prison terms of about 1735 years and monetary fines amounting to TL 66,946 (approx. € 26,780) in total. 34 were de facto sentenced to imprisonment of 95 years and to monetary fines of TL 103,226 (€ 41,300) in total.
In the year of 2010, 33 people were sentenced to 365 years and three months in jail and monetary fines of TL 49,200 (€ 19,680) in total.
Articles 285 and 288 TCK
The exact number of trials pending against journalists since 2010 and trials and investigations opened in 2011 in the scope of Article 285 TCK on "Violation of confidentiality of an investigation" and Article 288 TCK on the "attempt to influence a fair trial" is not known.
In 2011, 35 people were handed down prison sentences of 163 years and six months in total in the context of Articles 285 and 288 TCK. Monetary fines amounted to TL 40,000 (€ 16,000). In 2010, 37 journalists were facing imprisonment of 4.5 years each in this context.
21 years and nine months for "insult"
24 people received prison sentences of a total of 21 years and nine months under allegations of insult, accompanied with monetary fines summing up to TL 48,000 (€ 19,200). Two newspapers received monetary fines of TL 50,000 (€ 20,000) in total.
A total of eleven years and 4 months in jail and monetary fines of TL 23,780 (€ 9,512) were handed down to 14 defendants in the scope of trials based on "insult" in 2010.
Three books seized, four newspapers suspended from publishing
Three books were confiscated in 2011, two of them had not been printed yet. Four newspapers received publication bans of five months and 15 days in total; two magazines were banned for one month each. The publication of one magazine was stopped as well as the sales and distribution of another magazine. One magazine stopped publishing for good after having received a TL 150,000 (€ 60,000) monetary fine.
Access bans were imposed to four websites. One movie was banned.
European Court of Human Rights
The number of applications filed to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) from Turkey in 2011 is estimated at 9,000. In 2010, the Turkish government was sentenced to penalties worth € 233,560 related to the applications of 41 people and three media outlets.
Throughout 2011, the ECHR ruled for monetary fines summing up to approximately € 45,000 handed down to the Turkish government. In three decisions, the international court did not decree for compensation payments since the applications had not defined an according claim.
In 2011, the Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) handed down 89 monetary fines and 383 warnings, stopped 27 broadcasts and released one penalty notice to 20 radio stations and 480 television channels. (EG/BA/VK).
İstanbul - Bia News Centre
31 January 2012, Tuesday