The Media Monitoring Desk of "The Network for Monitoring and Covering Media Freedom and Independent Journalism" (BIA), has published its January-February-March 2007 Freedom of Expression Report.
The 14-page BIA Media Monitoring Report tackles the ongoing law suits against 45 journalists and five print and media companies. Attacks against news sources have become a new form of violation. The office used by DHA reporter Emin Bal was searched; his cassettes were confiscated.
Attacks and threats
The journalists working at the Diyarbakir office of Kurdistan TV, which has its head quarters in the Kurdistan Regional Administration in Iraq, state that their field of employment is arbitrarily limited, and that they work under pressures and threats. At the end of March, the channel’s Diyarbakir representative Mehmet Eren stated that the legal infrastructure for setting up the Diyarbakir office was ready in 2006, but added that their work was arbitrarily hindered: "Most of the time, they prevent us from attending events. And when they allow us to attend, they put us through prolonged identity checks. Most of our reports have to do with the Kurdish problem. When we prepare such reports we are faced with various types of hindrances and humiliating treatment.”
The group named Turkish Revenge Brigade (TIT), which caused Akin Birdal, the head of the Human Rights Association (IHD) to be seriously injured in 1998, lastly sent a threat electronic mail to Istanbul’s “Ozgur Radyo” (Free Radio) on the evening of 27 March. The radio employees were threatened with death. The message read: “Quit separatist broadcasts. We are following you. We know where each of you live. This is our last warning to you...” Two days later, the radio channel sought legal action about the threats. Threat letters and emails to activists became more widespread after the murder of Hrant Dink, the chief editor of the “Agos” newspaper. Professor Doctor Baskin Oran and Professor Doctor Ibrahim Kabaoglu from the academic world, activist Eren Keskin, publicist Necati Abay and singer Ferhat Tunc have also become the target of threats.
It was determined that Erhan Tuncel, who allegedly organized Hrant Dink’s assassination, and who worked as a police informant, gave reports to the Trabzon Police Department about Yasin Hayal and the Dink assassination, not just four but exactly 17 times. This development was reported by the media on 23 March. It was also reported that the Civil Service Inspectors of the Interior Ministry, who finalized their inspections at the Istanbul Police Department, demanded that Istanbul Police Chief Celalettin Cerrah is given a penalty of condemnation.
The Beytussebap Prosecutor’s Office in Sirnak, issued a “search and confiscation warrant” on 21 March to the police officers of the District Police Department to search the office used by Dogan News Agency (DHA) reporter Emin Bal. The police, who stated that slogans in support of PKK were chanted at the Newroz celebrations organized by the Democratic Society Party (DTP), wanted the images to be taken from Emin Bal. Bal had recorded the celebrations. Beytussebap Public Prosecutor Veli Karabacak gave permission to the police to “search and confiscate the objects of crime.” As before, the permission was in accordance with articles 20 and 21 of the 1982 Constitution; articles 119/1, 127/1 of the Law of Criminal Procedure (CMK) No:5271, and articles 7/2 and 15/1 of the Judicial and Search Regulation.
DHA reporter Fatih Karacali and private NTV television reporter Hamza Gul, who were covering the Newroz celebrations organized by DTP on 21 March at the Mimar Sinan Open Air Theatre, were slightly injured along with some other people on duty, from the stones hurled by the audience. The reporters received outpatient treatment at the hospital.
Murdered Hrant Dink’s lawyers Bahri Belen and Fethiye Cetin, in a petition handed on 15 March to the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, which is investigating the murder, demanded that the investigation files on the murder suspects conducted outside Istanbul are conjoined with the murder case. Dink was assassinated on 19 January. The lawyers, who made a statement, said that a terrorist organization, which attempts to change Turkey’s democratic order, is behind the murder and added that this organization is not limited to Pelitli. The lawyers demanded that an investigation is launched within the context of article 250 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CMK), against public officials who have not had an inquiry launched against them for breach of duty, gross misconduct, or covering up a crime.
The Haber X Web site, which has been hacked, was re-launched on 8 March. The Web site officials said that the hacker attack caused a month of delay. The hackers damaged the database and software of the site, which was published as a one-page-only Web site for some time.
Ibrahim Tig, the owner and chief editor of the daily "Bolge Haber" (Region News) newspaper of the Devrek district of Zonguldak, filed a complaint on 7 March, saying that he was attacked by the spouse of Devrek State Hospital’s Head Physician Aytekin Sur. It was claimed that the attack took place because the removal from office of the Head Physician was reported in the newspaper, with Polat Turkmen, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) member of parliament from Zonguldak as the news source.
On 6 March, it was realized that the transmission cables found on Ali Mountains of ASR, Radyo Tek (Radio Single), Radyo Life (Radio Life) and Mert Radyo of Adiyaman had been cut. The attack caused the radio broadcasts to be suspended for two days and damaged the transmitters. The Adiyaman Paramilitary Police Field Command began an investigation on the issue. Zeynel Abidin Kiymaz, the Head of the GAP Journalists’ Society, who visited the Adiyaman Prosecutor’s Office on 14 March, demanded that the perpetrators are found. Burak Cansel, a writer of the Adiyaman Olay (Event) newspaper and a programmer of the Tempo Radyo, wrote: "The leading personalities of the town remained indifferent and quiet. The companies, which have been harmed because of this incident, are still stunned in the face of this indifference and are expecting concrete results.”
On 5 March, the Beytussebap Chief Public Prosecutor Ahmet Bicer gave police the permission to confiscate the recordings and reports by DHA reporter Emin Bal, to investigate whether there was “propaganda on behalf of the illegal organization” at the panel organized on 6 March World Women’s Day at the Municipality building. A large number of women had attended the panel organized by DTP. Three lawyers from the Sirnak Bar participated as speakers. The South East Journalists’ Society stated that Bal had to hand the police his cassettes.
Two assailants, who attacked the office of "Ozgur Kocaeli" (Free Kocaeli) newspaper, which is found at the Izmit city center two weeks ago saying that they did not like the way a murder was reported on the newspaper, raided the office for the second time on 25 February and stabbed an employee. Employee Yucel Sinan, who worked at the applications department, was injured on his back and underwent an operation at the Izmit State Hospital. He is in good health now. The owner of the newspaper, Ismet Cigit stated that they are enraged in the face of two attacks, which happened within the course of two weeks. “Both incidents are examples of excessive vagrancy, lawlessness, ridiculing the law and the state, and almost rebellion against law and the state, all of which are happening in our country and being reflected in our town,” Cigit wrote in his article. Night guard Mehmet Sumer was stabbed in the first attack.
On 11 February, the Contemporary Journalists’ Association (CGD) stated that imprisoned mafia leader Alaattin Cakici has been threatening Can Dundar, the former member of the board of the association and the producer of the “Neden” (Why) program on the private NTV channel. The Association called on the Interior Ministry to take action. Cakici sent a threat letter to Dundar because of a program, in which Nuri Gundes, the former head of the Foreign Intelligence Department of the National Intelligence Organization (MIT), praised the mafia leader. The Turkish Journalists’ Association also condemned the threat. Dundar was provided with security guards after the incident.
Unidentified assailants, who broke into the Istanbul Office of the Ankara News Agency (ANKA) on the night of 8 February, stole a laptop and the hard disks of other desktop computers. ANKA’s Istanbul Representative Lutfiye Pekcan reminded that Bulent Orakoglu and Ceyhan Mumcu had stated that the incident may be a result of the arguments over the news source that arose after an ANKA report on Erhan Tuncel. “As an independent news agency, we will continue with our reports,” said Pekcan. Beyoglu Police Chief Tugrul Pek, who examined the office stated: “The incident does not look like a petty theft.”
It is alleged that on February 6, the security personnel of Diyarbakir’s Dicle University (D.U.) Medicine Faculty Hospital attacked a group of journalists including NTV cameramen Ibrahim Atesoglu and Mahmut Bozarslan, Sabah newspaper’s reporter Huseyin Kacar and Star newspaper’s reporter Veysi Ipek. The D.U. Medicine Faculty Hospital’s security personnel tried to prevent the journalists from following the developments about an injured person, who had been pulled out of a collapsed building in Diyarbakir.
Aziz Ozer, the owner of the "Guney" (South) Culture Arts and Literature Magazine and "Yeni Dunya Icin Cagri" (Call For A New World) newspaper, received a death threat through an email on 24 January. Ozer had applied to the European Court of Human Rights because he had been convicted based on article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK). "Such threats show us that we need to take this situation seriously and to pursue it,” said Ozer.
On 29 January, hackers attacked the www.aktifhaber.com news Web site. They openly used the name of O.S., who is the suspected murderer of Hrant Dink, and wrote on the Web site: “We are all O.S.” The Public Prosecutor’s Office began an investigation on the incident after a complaint by the Web site officials. The hacker or hackers named CodeCryer&Aspava, erased the main page of the aktifhaber Web site and replaced it with the sentence: "We are not Armenians, We are all O.S.” The hackers also tampered the infrastructure of the site.
Necati Abay, the spokesperson of the Imprisoned Journalists’ Solidarity Platform (TGDP) made a written press statement on the day Hrant Dink was murdered. The title of the press statement was “Good Boys Killed Hrant Dink.” Abay received a death threat on 22 January through an email. Following Abay’s complaint, the Police Department suggested providing Abay with security guards. However, the journalist rejected this suggestion saying that this was not the solution.
Hrant Dink, the Chief Editor of the weekly "Agos" newspaper was shot and killed on 19 January in front of his office at Istanbul’s Osmanbey neighborhood. The Turkish Journalists’ Society (TGC), the Press Council, the Contemporary Journalists’ Association (CGD), the Turkish Journalists’ Union (TGS) and many other media professionals’ organizations condemned the attack. The murder was also condemned in many cities in Turkey and in the world. Joost Lagendijk, the Co-Chair of the EU-Turkey Joint Parliament Committee, stated that Dink also had a political personality and that he fought for the freedom of expression. Lagendijk added that Dink played an important role in the genocide discussions in Turkey. EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn announced that he is stunned and deeply sorry for the brutal attack. Gunther Verheugen, the vice-president of the EU Commission stated that he condemns the incident but congratulated the Turkish state’s reaction.
It was alleged that a director of the Turkish Agriculture, Forest and Food Services Branch Public Officials Union (Turk Tarim Orman Sen), which is affiliated with Turkey’s Kamu-Sen (Union of Public Employees), insulted the reporters from the Canakkale "Olay" (Event) newspaper on 11 January at a press conference. The newspaper stated that the aim is to bring the local media under control and to do away with any opposition. “We condemn such behaviour, which is a new way of attacking,” stated the newspaper. During the press conference, the newspaper was accused with “distorting the appointments made in every period.”
On 10 January, unidentified assailants hurled molotov coctails to the head quarters of the "Yarimadanin Sesi" (Voice of the Peninsula) newspaper, which is published twice a week in the Datca district of Mugla. Owner Ali Germek, who is also a reporter of the Anatolia News Agency (AA) stated that the molotov coctail was hurled at the office where the paper used in printing the newspaper was kept. “Computer cables were damaged in the fire,” said Germek. “We don’t have any problems with anyone. I don’t understand why something like this happened.”
Detentions and arrests
Those, who were arrested as part of an operation that started on 8 September 2006, by the Anti-Terrorism Unit of the Istanbul Police Department against the Marxist Leninist Communist Party (MLKP) have still not been brought before a court although seven months have passed since their arrest. Due to the "secrecy decision," at least 36 people, including Istanbul Ozgur Radyo (Free Radio) Chief Editor Fusun Erdogan and "Atilim" (Leap) newspaper’s Chief Editor Ibrahim Cicek, can neither find out what they are being accused of, nor are they being brought before a court. “Ozgur Radyo” News Editor Halil Dinc and employee Sinan Gercek, who were detained and arrested within the framework of the same process, will be brought before a court on 13 April in Istanbul Heavy Penalty Court.
Mustafa Koyuncu, the chief editor of the “Emirdag” newspaper published in the Emirdag district of Afyonkarahisar, was arrested for “insulting an official on duty.” The writer, in the 12 March 2007 issue of the newspaper had published an article titled, "Should we Have Joined the EU Like This? Are They Abusing their Duties." The vehicle that Koyuncu was travelling in was stopped by the traffic police on 13 March. Journalist Muzaffer Belhan was driving the vehicle. Koyuncu was detained for arguing with and insulting police officers during the traffic control. On 13 March, he was sent to the justiceship with a formal arrest request. Koyuncu was sent to the Emirdag Jail. The journalist’s lawyer Ismail Birdane did not get a result to his objection to the arrest.
Journalist Sinan Kara, who wrote a book on Batman and its surroundings was in this town in February with a group of people. He was detained and arrested on the morning of 3 February at the Hotel GAP so that he would serve the time in prison he was sentenced to when he was the owner of the "Datca Haber" (Datca News) newspaper. The journalist was sent to the Batman Prison to do his 146-day prison term he was sentenced to before.
It was announced that Haci Orman, the chairman of the Bergama Culture and Arts Foundation (BERKSAV) Board of Directors and the chief editor of “Sanat ve Hayat" (Arts and Life) magazine, was handcuffed and kidnapped by unidentified persons on 31 January. However the next day, it was found out that Orman had been detained by the police officers from the Istanbul Anti-Terrorism Unit. Many institutions protested against the “unlawful detention.”
Memik Horuz, the Chief Editor of the “Isci Koylu” (Worker Villager) magazine, who was detained in 2001 on allegations that he was “a member of TKP/ML TIKKO,” Turkish Communist Party/Marxist Leninist Turkish Worker Villager Salvation Army) was released from the Bolu F-type prison on 30 January, where he had stayed for 5.5 years. Horuz said that the “collective bargaining in the prison” term, which led to a break in the long-term death fast by lawyer Behic Asci could not be practiced at the Bolu Prison due to the conditions.
Trials and attempts
On 29 March, it was found out that Transportation Minister Binali Yildirim brought a 20 thousand YTL (11,495 euros) suit for damages against Ilhan Selcuk, who wrote a column titled “This Situation is Getting Out of Hand...” and the "Cumhuriyet" newspaper, where the column was published. Yildirim claimed that "his personal rights had been attacked” in the article. The statements; "Now in this column, we may read the article dated 21 January 2003... The three most important ministries in the AKP government are in the hands of three individuals, who are accused with corruption. The Energy Ministry is in the hands of suspect Hilmi Guler. The Transportation Ministry is in the hands of suspect Binali Yildirim. The Finance Ministry is in the hands of suspect Kemal Unakitan. Three strategic ministries are in the hands of corruption suspects...” were used as the basis of the case.
It was found out at the end of March that Adiyaman Gerger Public Prosecutor’s Office opened an investigation against journalist Haci Bogatekin because of an anonymous article that read; “Turkey Has Made a Mistake” published in the "Gerger Firat" newspaper on 10 March 2007. The journalist will make a deposition to Public Prosecutor Sadullah Ovacikli on 3 April. On 12 February, Prosecutor Ovacikli had referred to the Observer-Guardian United Kingdom Case and Prager-Oberschlick Austria Case and concluded that there was no need to file a suit against Bogatekin because of the article titled, "Lice, Pig and Agha," in which he criticized the state officials for the lice epidemic and hygiene problems in the district. The journalist had begun his article by writing: “The state has made a mistake. Where and when? Yesterday in the East and Southeast. Then in Istanbul. In Maras, in Sivas. And today, in Trabzon, Istanbul, Mersin and the Southeast...”
The Prevention of Terrorism Act (TMY) trial brought against “Milliyet” newspaper manager Hasan Cakkalkurt and owner Aydin Dogan for giving place to how a speech made by one of the founders of DTP, Mehmet Hatip Dicle, at panel in London was reflected in Kurdish Internet sites, was handled on 28 March by the Istanbul 11th Heavy Penalty Court. In line with the request of the prosecutor, the judge found that amendment no: 5532 to the TMY is in the favour of the defendants and handed out a fine of 20 thousand YTL (11,495 euros) to each Cakkalkurt and Dogan. The court stated that the journalists will continue to be tried on 23 May unless the fines are paid within 10 days. The case records of “Hurriyet” newspaper journalist Sebati Karakurt and "Milliyet" newspaper journalist Namik Durukan were sent to the Heavy Penalty Court because they prepared news on the Kurdish Problem.
Owner Ersen Korkmaz of the local "Demokrat Iskenderun" (Democrat Iskenderun) newspaper has been standing trial for the last 4.5 years. The newspaper had reported about a panel of the Turkish Communist Party (TKP) with the title: "The Leader of Kurds Was Surrendered to the Fascists” The Iskenderun 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance, during the last hearing, on 30 March, stated that the invitation had not reached Salaz’s lawyer. Journalist Korkmaz and TKP official Necmettin Salaz, who is standing trial along with the journalist for the speech he delivered at the panel, are being charged with “insulting the military and security forces” and face up to three years in prison. The trial will continue on 22 May. Salaz is free pending the outcome of the trial.
On 27 March, the court lifted the injunction decision on the series “Fethullah Gulen’s Companion of 40-Years, Nurettin Veren, Tells” by “Cumhuriyet” newspaper writer Hikmet Cetinkaya. The publication of the series was ceased by the Uskudar 5th Civil Court of First Instance. The court, following a two-year trial, rejected the case brought by Fethullah Gulen, who claimed that his personal rights were damaged.
"Milli Gazete" (National Newspaper) writer Mehmet Sevket Eygi and manager Selami Caliskan will continue to stand trial on 31 May because of an article titled "Religion Enmity Terrorism.” Eygi and Caliskan had been sentenced to a year and eight months in prison. The Court of Appeals for the 8th Penal Circuit overturned the ruling. The prosecution for allegations of “inciting hatred and enmity through the media” will continue at the 14th Criminal Court of First Instance.
Ahmet Onal of the Peri Publishing House and writer Murat Coskun of the book titled “Woman – The Language of Pain” are being charged with "Inciting hatred and enmity based on race.” The Beyoglu 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance decided to base the trial on article 159 of the TCK. The trial will continue on 2 May.
The Diyarbakir branch of the Association of Kemalist Ideology (ADD) applied to the Diyarbakir Public Prosecutor’s Office demanding that a five-day series titled, “Who are We” published in the "Milliyet" newspaper, is suspended. The series had begun to be published on 19 March. ADD Head Dr. Riza Gul, in his petition handed to the Diyarbakir Chief Public Prosecutor's Office to be sent to the Bagcilar Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, claimed that the series "incites hatred and enmity.” With the complaint, Gul requested that the newspaper’s chief editors Tahir Ozyurtseven and Cem Dizdar, and Tarhan Erdem, who was responsible for the series, are tried based on article 216/1 of the Penal code. The publication on the Milliyet-KONDA public survey was published under the titles, “A Colourful First," "Half of the Poorest Live in the Southeast,” “The Number of Those, Who Say I’m Alavite, is 4.5 Million,” “55 Million People are Ethnically Turk,” and “The Majority Says ‘First of All I’m from Turkey.”
On 22 March, the Sisli 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance dropped three cases brought against "Agos" newspaper’s Chief Editor Hrant Dink after he was shot and killed on 19 January. Dink was being accused with "insulting Turkishness" and "attempting to influence a fair trial.” The cases brought against writers Aydin Engin, Serkis Seropyan and Arat Dink, based on article 288 of the TCK, were postponed to 14 June. In an interview with the Reuters news agency last year, “Agos” newspaper’s Chief Editor Hrant Dink had stated that he believes in the “Armenian genocide.” The suit filed against Dink before he was killed, had been postponed to 14 June. The newspaper’s licence holder Sarkis Seropyan and editor Arat Dink will stand trial on 14 June for publishing Hrant Dink's mentioned interview in the newspaper.
The media reported that the Supreme Court of Appeals 4th Judicial Office overturned a local court’s decision to inflict a penalty on “Milliyet” newspaper to pay damages to the Prime Ministry’s Undersecretary Omer Dincer on 23 March. Milliyet had published a report about Dincer being appointed as the Prime Ministry Monitoring and Coordination Board under the title, “Trace on Reactionary Movement Has Stopped." Dincer had filed a suit against "Milliyet" newspaper for damages. Dincer accused the newspaper with “attacking his personal rights through the media,” through its publication on 20 September 2004. The Supreme Court of Appeals, in its ruling, determined that “the balance between the essence and format is important” and that “the title offers an entirety with the content.” If the local court insists on its former decision and if this decision is appealed, the case will go to the Supreme Court of Appeals Judicial General Assembly.
The Istanbul 10th Heavy Penalty Court, on 22 March, began to discuss the case against "Vakit" newspaper’s lincence holder Nuri Aykon and manager Harun Aksoy. Aykon and Aksoy are being accused with "targetting” the members of Council of State 2nd Circuit, who ruled that the removal from office of a nursery school teacher, who went to school with a headscarf, is not against the law. The court handed out to Aykon a fine of 23 thousand 675 YTL (13,606 euros), and to Aksoy a fine of 12 thousand 102 (6,955 euros) with advance payments. The court stated that the suit will be dropped if the fines are paid within 10 days. Otherwise the case will continue. The case brought against the newspaper for the same report, for “insulting an officer on duty through the media,” and “humiliating judicial bodies” is still at the Bagcilar 2nd Regional Court. The Bagcilar Prosecutor’s Office had made a criminal complaint after the newspaper published the photographs of the Council of State 2nd Circuit Head and three members under the title of "These are Those Members” last year and with the attack at the Council of State.
The Beyoglu 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance continued to discuss on 21 March the suit filed against "Birgun" (One Day) newspaper’s writer and Sesonline.net news portal’s Cheif Editor Yalcin Ergundogan by the head of the Independent Turkey Party Haydar Bas. Ergundogan faces up to 3 years in prison and a fine. The hearing was postponed to 23 May to write to the relevant population registration offices and ask for the birth records of all the intervening parties’ and to take the testimony of one of the intervening parties, Sinem Karadas. A case had been brought against Ergundogan for a report published in the newspaper on 26 April 2005 under the title: "His Disciples Rise Against Haydar Bas."
Journalist-writer Abdurrahman Dilipak, who has previously been convicted of “insulting the president,” and who has been acquitted of charges of “insulting the state institutions,” because of his articles on 28 February, is now being charged with “inciting hatred and enmity” through an article titled “My Country is Something Else,” for the "Akit" newspaper. There was no trial on 27 February because the judge was on leave and the newspaper’s lawyer Ali Pacci was absent with excuse. The trial will be held at the Bagcilar 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance on 22 May.
The trial of Chief Editor Huseyin Aykol of the "Ulkede Ozgur Gundem" (Free Agenda in the Country) newspaper, who is being charged with "membership in an illegal organization” continued on 20 March. Aykol had gone to the Kandil Mountains in 2003 and interviewed senior PKK/Kongra Gel members. The Istanbul 9th Heavy Penalty Court gave more time to the trial prosecutor to prepare his considered deliberations. The trial will continue on 21 June. The journalist faces up to 10 years in prison for conducting interviews in the Kandil Mountains.
The trial of journalist Ragip Zarakolu, the owner of Belge Publishing House, for publishing the books of two Armenian writers in Turkish, will continue on 3 May World Media Freedom Day. Zarakolu is standing trial for publishing a book by Prof. Dr. Dora Sakayan called, "An Armenian Doctor in Turkey - Garabed Hatcherian’s Smyrnia Diary” and a book by George Jerjian called "The Truth Will Set Us Free.” The journalist was absent at the 15 March hearing with excuse. While the Istanbul 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance included translator Atilla Tuygan to the prosecution, it will not listen to translator H. Zafer Korkmaz, who translated Sakayan's book. Zarakolu is being charged with "insulting the state and the republic,” “insulting the memory of Ataturk,” “publicly humiliating the Turkish identity,” and “insulting the army.” He faces up to 13.5 years in prison.
It was found out in mid-March that a suit has been filed against Gazi University academician Prof. Dr. Atilla Yayla for referring to Ataturk as “This man” during a panel titled “The Social Effects of European Union and Turkey Relations”“Law to Protect Ataturk.” Yayla had said: “Kemalism corresponds more to regression rather than advancement.” organized by the Youth Branches of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) on 18 November 2006. Yayla faces up to three years in prison. Prof. Yayla will go before the Izmir 8th Criminal Court of First Instance on 30 April. The professor will be tried based on the Law About Crimes Committed Against Ataturk No: 5816, passed in 1951, also known as the
The trial of “Ulkede Ozgur Gundem" newspaper writers Irfan Ucar, manager Umur Hozatli and imprisoned journalist Sinan Kara for their writings on the daily developments based on article 301 of the TCK began on 14 March. Hozatli is standing trial for an article he wrote in the 16 September 2006 issue titled, "Lorin-Good Father Starts Work," Ucar is standing trial for an article he wrote in the 13 December 2005 issue titled, "Number 301," and Kara is standing trial for an article published in the 22 and 26 September issues titled, "Murderers on Payroll” and "Party at the Barracks." The trial will continue at the Beyoglu 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance on 17 May. Ozcan Kilic, the lawyer of the journalists stated: “301 is not only limiting freedom of expression but also threatening lives.”
On 12 February, the Supreme Court of Appeals for the 4th Judicial Circuit overturned a lower court’s decision to hand out a fine of 3 thousand YTL (1,725 euros) to Cumhur Kiliccioglu, the owner of the "Siirt'te Mücadele" (Struggle in Siirt) newspaper in a suit filed upon the complaint of Ergun Celik, an academician at the Siirt Education Faculty of the Dicle University. As legal grounds for the decision to overturn, the Supreme Court of Appeals stated that the Siirt Regional Civil Court, which exercised jurisdiction, ruled without waiting for the result of the penal trial and did not state how much fine it handed out for each news report. On 22 November 2005, Kiliccioglu, who has been working as a journalist for 52 years, was handed out a fine of 519 YTL (300 euros) remitted from a prison sentence for insulting Ergun Celik in some articles and reports about the problems of the university. The suit for damages ended in a ruling on 6 December 2005 where the court ordered 3 thousand YTL (1,725 euros) in damages. Kiliccioglu's lawyer Mehmet Ali Ozel, had appealed both rulings.
On 6 March, the Istanbul Vacation 1st Magistrate Criminal Court banned access to the global video sharing Web site YouTube, saying that a video on the Web site “consists of insults against Ataturk.” An e-fight had broken out between the Turkish and Greek Internet users during the past years, and on 5 January, the Greek Internet users uploaded the aforementioned video on the site. A group of Internet users in Istanbul gathered in front of the Sisli Court House on 8 March and said: “The way to stop this is not censorship.” The Reporters Without Borders (RSF) evaluated the decision to be "radical and disproportionate"
DTP leader Ahmet Turk, who, during a speech in Diyarbakir said: “Under the current conditions, where we are spending intensive efforts so that guns go completely silent, the fact that the isolation of Mr. Ocalan is intensifying is deepening the social concerns” was sentenced to 6 months in prison. On 7 March the Diyarbakir 2nd Magistrate Criminal Court, convicted Turk for “publicly praising crime and the criminal,” based on article 215/1 of the TCK. DTP’s Batman Province Deputy Head Mehmet Sirin Tekik, Central District Head Cemalettin Padir and party official Dicle Manap were arrested by the Vacation Court for organizing a press conference to give support to DTP Diyarbakir Province Head Hilmi Aydogdu, who had been arrested for saying “We will consider any intervention in Kirkuk as an intervention in Diyarbakir." There is an arrest warrant for DTP Batman Province Head Ayhan Karabulut.
The trial of Dicle News Agency (DIHA) reporter Rojda Kizgin, IHD’s former branch head Ridvan Kizgin and assertorwill continue on 29 March. A suit had been filed against them based on article 301/2 of the TCK because of a news report that said, "Village guards are fishing with the state’s bombs.” The Bingol Criminal Court of Peace wanted to take the testimony of assertor Adibelli. The three defendants are accused with "Publicly Humiliating the State of the Turkish Republic, Army or Security Corps,” and face up to two years in prison. Defendant Ridvan Kizgın, in his testimony, stated that he was the branch head of IHD during the period and added that Dogan Adibelli was detained by three village guards after saying that the village guards in the Elmali village of Yedisu, fish with hand grenades. The trial will continue on 26 April. Dogan Adibelli
The trial of the case brought against IHD Deputy Head Lawyer Reyhan Yalcindag Baydemir for “influencing that who is doing his duty of judgement " based on article 277 of the TCK began on 29 March at the Tarsus Heavy Penalty Court. Yalcindag, who made a statement following the release at the first hearing of six defendants, who allegedly attempted to burn the Turkish flag, is facing six months to two years in prison.
The trial of Osman Tiftikci, the writer of the book called, "The Army’s Evolution from the Ottomans to Today," and its publisher Sirri Ozturk continued on 4 March. The suit against Tiftikci and Ozturk had been filed with the complaint of the General Staff. The Istanbul 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance decided for the third time that writer Tiftikci, who has been living in Europe for the last 35 years is brought to court by force. “I am a publisher of 30 years,” said Ozturk. “I don’t remember a single month in which I did not have to stand before a court because of a book or a magazine.” The two defendants are accused with “publicly insulting the army,” based on article 301/2 of the TCK. The trial will continue on 8 May.
On 1 March, the Bagcilar Public Prosecutor served the "Yeni Asya" (New Asia) newspaper a fine of 50 thousand YTL (28,735 euros) with an advance payment for publishing the photographs of O.S., the suspected murderer of Hrant Dink"These youth are the fruits of the education system,” "Where is the youth headed to?" and "Hayal: Pamuk should behave - Samast admits murder.” The Prosecutor’s Office stated that a criminal suit would be filed unless the fine is paid within 10 days. Formerly, the Sisli Public Prosecutor Muhittin Ayata had launched an inquiry on the "Agos", "Cumhuriyet" and "Gunluk Evrensel" (Daily Evrensel) newspapers on grounds that they violated the secrecy of the investigation, that they revealed the identity of O.S. and that they published information on the procedure during the investigation period. The same prosecutor’s office fined Sahin Bayar, the manager of the “Gunluk Evrensel” newspaper and the newspaper’s licence holder Ahmet Sami Belek a total of 100 thousand YTL (57,471 euros) with an advance payment for violating article 21 of the Press Law in five separate issues. in news reports on 22, 23 and 25 January 2007. The news reports were titled:
Singer and human right activist Ferhat Tunc was detained at his home on 23 February and taken to the Istanbul Heavy Penalty Court. Tunc was one of the five human right activists, who took over Private Soldier Coskun Kirandi from the PKK and followed the developments. Kirandi had been kidnapped by the PKK in 2005. Tunc, who was facing five years in prison, was detained because he did not give his testimony in the hearing at the Malatya 3rd Heavy Penalty Court. Tunc’s lawyer Ercan Kanar, stated that it was against the procedure to bring the singer to court by force rather than a summons. The court decided that Umur Hozatli, who was also in the group, is served with a summons. Dogan News Agency (DHA) and Reuters News Agency reporter Ferit Demir, Anatolia News Agency (AA) reporter Haydar Toprakci, DIHA reporters Abdulkadir Ozbek and Rustu Demirkaya were ordered to give their testimonies in Tunceli. A suit had been filed against the activists and reporters on grounds of articles 220/8 and 53 of the Turkish Penal Code and for “making propaganda on behalf of the illegal organization and its goal.” The trial of Tunc, because of an article titled, “Leyla-A Revolutionist and a Song " published in the "Ozgur Gundem" newspaper, will continue on 7 June in the Beyoglu 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance.
A suit has been fled against the IHD Adana Branch Secretary Ethem Acikalin, who made a press statement on 16 August 2006 and demanded that the murderers of 16-year-old Feyzi Abik, who was a victim of an extrajudicial killing in Adana, are found. In the trial, which was first reported by the media in mid-February, Acikalin will be charged with “publicly insulting the security forces,” based on article 301 of the TCK. The first hearing will be held on 7 June at the Adana 4th Magistrate Criminal Court.
University student Mehmet Emin Demir was sentenced to 20 months in prison on 16 February. Demir, in a television program on private Kanal D (Channel D) presented by Abbas Guclu, had said to Erkan Mumcu, the leader of the Motherland Party: "I am Kurdish, PKK is not a reason, it is the result.” The Ankara 11th Heavy Penalty Court ruled that Demir is guilty of “making propaganda on behalf of the illegal organization or its goal,” based on article 220/8 of the TCK.
"Radikal" newspaper reporter Ismail Saymaz was acquitted on 15 February. He was on trial for violating the secrecy of the investigation on allegations that children are being tortured, by publishing the doctor’s report. The Bagcilar 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance stated that “publishing the statements of the victim and doctor reports about the victim does not constitute influencing the court,” and acquitted Saymaz, who was being tried based on article 19 of the Press Law under the topic of “Influencing the judgement.” Public Prosecutor Ali Cakir notified that the news report published on 23 February 2006 under the title; "Allegations of Torture to the 11-Year-Old Child,” included the doctor report contained in the documents collected within the framework of the investigation by the Bagcilar Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office. Saymaz had faced prosecution after refusing to pay the fine with an advance payment.
On 14 February, the Beyoglu 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance made a decision of lack of jurisdiction in the trial of Evrensel Publishing House owner Songul Ozkan. Ozkan was standing trial for a book by Ahmet Kahraman, titled "Kurdish Insurgencies.” Ozkan was being charged with "Inciting hatred and enmity,” on grounds of article 312 of the TCK. An Istanbul State Security Court had also began to try Ozkan for the same charges. When the State Security Courts were closed off, Ozkan was tried by the Istanbul Criminal Court of First Instance, which made a decision of lack of jurisdiction, and then at the Beyoglu Criminal Court of First Instance. With the latest decision of lack of jurisdiction, the case has been transferred to the Supreme Court of Appeals.
On 14 February, the Ankara 3rd Criminal Court of First Instance sentenced 13 Rights and Freedoms Party (Hak-Par) officials including former party head Abdulmelik Firat to 6 months to a year in prison. The party officials had been accused with speaking in Kurdish at the 1st Ordinary Congress and sending out Kurdish invitations to the state protocol. They were penalised for violating the Political Parties Law (SPK). The court also decided that a criminal complaint is filed with the Supreme Court of Appeals Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office so that a case can be brought for the closure of the party.
On 13 February, the Bagcilar 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance acquitted "Yeni Asya" (New Asia) newspaper’s chief editor Faruk Cakir. Cakir was being charged with “insulting the military through the media,” after publishing a news report titled, “The game backfires,” about the Council of State attack. The same court penalized Cakir for "Attempting to influence a fair trial.” Cakir was first sentenced to 6 months in prison based on article 288 of the TCK. The prison sentence was then commuted to a fine of 3 thousand 600 YTL (2,069 euros). The news report had claimed that Alparslan Aslan, who was arrested after the 17 May attack on the Council of State, belonged to a "Kizilelmaci" (an ultra nationalist) organization.
Sociologist Ismail Besikci is being charged with “inciting hatred and enmity through the media,” because of an article titled "We Didn’t Speak, We Crashed " published in the “Populer Kultur Esmer (Popular Culture Dark) magazine’s December 2005 issue. He was before a court on 12 February for the second hearing. Chief Editor Ferzende Kaya and manager Mehmet Ali Izmir, who face up to two years in prison for “publicly insulting the military forces,” did not attend the hearing. Besikci, during the hearing, criticized the expert witness practice saying it is “contrary to freedom of science and thought.” Besikci faced up to 4.5 years in prison based on article 216/1 of the TCK. The trial at the Bakirkoy 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance will continue on 18 June.
After the decision of the Supreme Court of Appeals to overturn, the Sisli 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance on 6 February restarted trying "Agos" newspaper’s Chief Editor Hrant Dink for “publicly insulting the Turkish identity.” Judge Hacer Bayraktar decided that 15 intervening parties including complainant Mehmet Soykan, the "Bitlis Association of Victims of Armenian Gang Massacres During the First World War" and Kemal Kerincsiz are no longer intervening parties. Judge Bayraktar also ruled that the decision of the Supreme Court of Appeals Judicial General Assembly is implemented. Saying that the death record of Dink is not up to date, the court decided that an updated death record is demanded from the Registration Office. The trial will continue on 14 June. In the first trial, Hrant Dink had been handed a 6-month prison sentence with a deferment. Karin Karakasli had been acquitted on grounds that she bears no responsibility under the Press Law.
On 1 February, the Kadikoy 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance acquitted Perihan Magden. She was being charged with “insulting through a publication,” because of the articles she wrote about the "Kurtlar Vadisi" (Valley of the Wolves) series and "Kurtlar Vadisi Irak" (Valley of the Wolves Iraq) film. Magden faced up to two years in prison. Magden's lawyer Ergin Cinmen, at the hearing, stated that the Kurtlar Vadisi series and Kurtlar Vadisi Irak film had the effect of imposing mafia relations on the society. “Many people, and especially children, who were influenced by this series got involved in crime,” Cinmen said. The court ruled that elements of crime were not formed and acquitted Magden.
On 27 January, the Tunceli Criminal Court of First Instance sentenced IHD Istanbul’s former head Eren Keskin to 6 months in prison for "insulting the state, the military and the security forces.” The prison sentence was commuted to a fine of 900 YTL (517 euros) and postponed. Keskin appealed the decision on 20 February. Keskin, who delivered a speech at a conference titled "Women in the Social Life” organized by the Tunceli branch of Egitim-Sen (Education and Science Employees Union) on 24 November 2002 had said, “Whether judicial or political, torture in Turkey is a state policy.”
“Gunluk Evrensel” newspaper’s license holder Ahmet Sami Belek and chief editor Sahin Bayar were acquitted in the first hearing of the trial on 24 January. They were being charged with “insulting the state’s military,” by publishing a news report titled, "JITEM people were summoned to Diyarbakir.” The Sisli 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance ruled that the news report was published as an allegation within the framework of media freedom and that it did not bear the intent of insult. The news report had claimed that former JITEM (Paramilitary Police Intelligence and Anti-Terrorism Team) members had been summoned to Diyarbakir shortly before an explosion in the Baglar area of Diyarbakir, which killed seven people.
The Diyarbakir 5th Heavy Penalty Court continued to try 56 mayors, most of whom are from the Democratic Society Party (DTP) on 23 January for sending a letter to the Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen in 2005 asking him not to close down Roj TV. The 56 mayors are being charged with "helping and abetting the PKK.” The mayors, 54 of which are from the DTP and two from the Social Democratic People’s Party (SHP) are accused with "knowingly and voluntarily helping the terrorist organization.” The public prosecutor, who presented his considered deliberation, asked for 7.5 to 15 years in prison for 53 mayors. The public prosecutor delivered the opinion that three mayors are acquitted. The trial will continue on 8 May.
On 23 January, the Supreme Court of Appeals for the 9th Judicial Circuit, rejected persistent demands by the Justice Ministry to try three reporters and one member of parliament on the basis of article 301. The General Staff had complained about the three reporters and the member of parliament. The Supreme Court of Appeals ruled that, “The request to overturn the decision was not found suitable since the reports, published for public interest, constitute news reports and fall within the framework of informing the public.” The request for "Radikal" newspaper reporter Zihni Erdem,” for a news report titled, “13 questions in Semdinli, "Milliyet" newspaper reporter Derya Sazak and manager Hasan Cakkalkurt for a news report titled, "If there is a confitent there is a state" and CHP member of parliament Esat Canan resulted in a dismissal of proceedings.
In mid-January Prime Minister Erdogan sued Tuncay Ozkan, who prepares a program called “Politics Stop” on the private “KanalTurk” television channel for 10 thousand YTL (5,747 euros) in damages. Erdogan claimed that his “personal rights had been attacked” in the program. On 16 January journalist Ergun Babahan was acquitted. He was being accused with “insulting” Professor Doctor Mehmet Haberal, the rector of Baskent University in a column published in "Sabah" newspaper, titled "Strange Relationships.” The Ankara 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance ruled that there is no element of insult in the article and that it is of critical nature.
On 12 January, it was found out that Secretary General Robert Ménard of Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and chief editor Erol Ozkoray of the quarterly "Idea Politika" magazine were acquitted. Ménard and Ozkoray stood trial because of an interview published in the “Idea Politika” magazine. Ozkoray, who found out that he had been acquitted about a year ago, stated that he had not yet been notified of the acquittal. In an interview published on 28 December 2001, Ménard had said that the "Turkish Regime is Schizophrenic.” A suit had been filed against the journalists for “insulting the military and the republic.” Both faced up to six years in prison based on article 159 of the old Penal Law.
Regulations and seeking remedy
On 30 March, the trial for the attacks on the Council of State 2nd Circuit members and the “Cumhuriyet” newspaper was held. After the defendants stated that they were regretful, Judge Orhan Karadeniz of the Ankara 11th Heavy Penalty Court chided the defendants by saying: “Everyone, who comes here, is regretful. You are very innocent.” Defendant Aykut Metin Sukre's lawyer stated that his client is to be accused of “knowingly and voluntarily aiding the organization” and underlined that his client does not have a world view that would allow him to engage in a crime because of the headscarf issue. Erhan Timuroglu's lawyer Mustafa Ergin said that his client is "an ignorant person, who drinks alcohol” and added that he would never engage in a crime with a religious motive. Murder suspect Alparslan Arslan's lawyer was absent with excuse. Thus, Arslan’s latest legal argument could not be recorded. The trial will continue on 4 May.
If, the State Secret Draft Law, which is expected to clarify many regulations passed before, such as the 1982 Constitution, Turkish Penal Code, Law on the Right to Obtain Information, if made effective without being brought into line with modern guidelines, may become “the grounds for the government’s censorships.” On 4 March, TGC Head Orhan Erinc wrote that he is concerned that it may bring less assurances in the state governed by rule of law than envisaged. Oktay Eksi, the head of the Press Council criticized the draft stating that a “secret information” section had been created for information that do not constitute “state secret.”
Journalists Tuncay Ozkan, Cuneyt Arcayurek and Mine Kirikkanat claimed that they had been interrogated on their assets during a financial investigation on the companies of the “Kanalturk" television. The three journalists on 1 March, sued Revenues Inspector Metin Olcek for 20 thousand YTL (11,495 euros) in damages each. The journalists also sued the Finance Ministry for damages of the same amount for "illegally subject to asset investigation and misdemeanor in services.”
The Initiative Against Thought Crime organized a civil disobedience to support "Agos" newspaper’s chief editor Hrant Dink, who had been the target of article 301 before he was murdered. Some of the more than 500 people, who participated in the protest were questioned on 19 February within the framework of the investigation by the Prosecutor’s Office. The group had signed a text which read, “I am Hrant Dink. I agree with his words found below, which have been considered as an element of crime and I would like to be on trial as a defendant.”
The TGC and the Press Council in mid-February, once again presented the Justice Minister Cemil Cicek and government officials their proposals on changes for article 301. In the proposals, there are some common points such as changing the notion of Turkishness, reducing the penalties and to necessitate permission for launching an investigation. CHP Head Deniz Baykal stated he is against the changes.
Over 20 organizations, all of whom are members of the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX) network, including bianet, called on the Turkish officials on 10 February to completely abate article 301 of the TCK. They also called on the officials to abate all articles that could be used to block rights about freedom of expression, secured by the European Convention on Human Rights and the United Nations Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Turkey’s European Union (EU) representative Volkan Bozkir, in an interview with the British financial newspaper "Financial Times," said that article 301 of the Penal Code could not be amended before the General Elections in November. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in a television program on the NTV channel on 17 January, in response to a question on whether "article 301 would be changed" said: "Maybe yes, maybe no. The non-governmental organizations have not yet reached a decision.”
Reactions against Censorship and Monopolisation
On 26 March, Turkish Publishers’ Union (TYB) Freedom of Publishing Committee, in its Freedom of Publishing Report, which covers last year and the first three months of this year, stated that publishers, writers and journalists function under intense limitations on freedom of expression. The TYP also referred to the BIA2 Media Monitoring Report, which found that, "In the year 2006, 293 writers, publishers, journalists, intellectuals, translators and human rights activists stood trial for expression their opinions, or publishing or translating these opinions. This number was 157 last year.” The TYB stated that a total of 44 books from 25 publishing houses were tried in 2006. “The year 2006 was one of the most negative years in terms of freedom of expression and publishing. And unfortunately problems are continuing in the year 2007,” wrote committee member Ragip Zarakolu at the beginning of the report. He stated that there are many legal regulations serving as an obstacle in front of freedom of expression.
After the Azadiye Welat newspaper was shut down, the Istanbul 13th Heavy Penalty Court suspended the broadcasts of "Guncel" (Contemporary) newspaper for 15 days for “disseminating propaganda on behalf of PKK,” and “praising Abdullah Ocalan.” The newspaper had first begun its publications on 19 Mart. The newspaper’s Chief Editor Mehmet Samur stated that there was a decision to close down a total of five Kurdish publication companies in the last six months. Samur underlined that the Kurdish problem cannot be solved by closing down the Kurdish publication companies, which call for a democratic solution to the Kurdish problem.
The proof edition of the "Hurriyet Akdeniz" newspaper dated 22 March were confiscated with the decision of the Antalya Public Prosecutor Yusuf Hakki Dogan. “Hurriyet Akdeniz” is printed at the Antalya facilities of "Hurriyet" newspaper. Oktay Eksi, the head of the Press Council used the word “rebellion” to explain his reaction, and condemned the decision by saying: “Sending out police to the printing house and seizing the proof edition is a practice of the Sultan Abdulhamit period. This is definitely illegal.” TGC Head and "Cumhuriyet" newspaper writer Orhan Erinc also reacted against the confiscation.
On 22 March, the Diyarbakir 5th Heavy Penalty Court suspended the publication of the "Azadiya Welat" newspaper for 20 days based on article 6/5 of the TMY. The newspaper was penalized for “disseminating separatist propaganda as if there is a separate state within the territories of the Republic of Turkey,” and publishing the photographs of PKK members walking on the mountains in a news report titled “Bolu Brigade Settling in Kurdistan,” published on 13 March; for publishing Abdullah Ocalan’s views on a Kurdistan Democratic Confederalism and embracing the leader of the organization by saying “Imrali is the center of cruelty,” in its 14 March 2007 issue; publishing statements that praised and embraced Ocalan, publishing pirate protests in Diyarbakir, Mersin and Siirt and talking about these provinces as “Turkish Kurdistan” in its 17 March issue. The penalty was based on "Encouraging to commit crime within the framework of the PKK terrorist organization, praising the crime and the criminals and disseminating propaganda on behalf of the terrorist organization.”
On 17 March, the Ankara branch of TGS announced that journalist Fatma Sibel Yuksek faced pressure because of her book called, "The Unknowns of the Prime Ministry.” The statement by the TGS stated that: “At a time when print and media organizations have such an important role, the freedom of expression and media freedom of societies are equally important.”
The "Yasamda Gundem" (Agenda in Life) newspaper began to be published after the publication of the "Ulkede Ozgur Gundem" newspaper was suspended for a month. The 9 March 2007 issue of the “Yasamda Gundem” newspaper was confiscated on grounds that “it is the continuation of the previous newspaper.” The Istanbul Public Prosecutor’s Office, which ordered the police to go ahead with the confiscation, demanded that the next issue of the “Yasamda Gundem” newspaper is confiscated.
The Istanbul 13th Heavy Penalty Court suspended the publication of "Ulkede Ozgur Gundem" newspaper through two separate decisions on the same day. News reports claiming that PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan was being poisoned in prison were pointed to as legal grounds for the decision to shut the newspaper down. The publication of the newspaper was suspended for a month. Even though the newspapers’ lawyers objected to the decisions, they could not produce any results. The court, pointing at the news reports dated 2 March 2007 claiming that Ocalan is being poisoned, suspended the publication of the newspaper for a month, based on article 25 of the Press Law No: 5287, titled, "Seizure, ban on distribution and sale.” The same judge took another decision on the same day, adding to the reason of suspension the news reports published on 5 March 2007. The court accused the newspaper of “praising the criminal,”“disseminating propaganda on behalf of the terrorist organization,” because of the news reports titled, "Ocalan is being poisoned,” "Kalkan: Participation in the guerilla is high,” "Ocalan call from Kurds.” and
On 9 March, "Cumhuriyet" newspaper published a “Media Analysis Report,” which was allegedly prepared by the Press Center of the Prime Ministry and presented to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. According to the news report titled, "Prime Ministry Opens Files on Certain Persons" the newspapers were studied one by one, their closeness to the government were determined and the report was presented to Prime Minister Erdogan. The Press Center of the Prime Ministry, on the other hand, stated that the news report, titled "Prime Ministry Opens Files on Certain Persons" is “baseless, ungrounded and intentional.” In the statement, it was added that one of the employees of the press center had done a content evaluation two years ago with the purpose of devising communications proposals, but that this evaluation was not found objective and meaningful. “This study was not presented to the Prime Minister,” the statement added.
On 8 March, "Nokta" (Point) magazine, published an “memorandum” published by the Public Relations Directorship of the General Staff and sent to Deputy Chief General Ergin Saygun of the General Staff with the approval of Secretary-General Major General Salih Zeki Colak of the General Staff. The memorandum was a three-page evaluation featuring "A Reevaluation of the Accredited Press and Media Organizations.” TGC, CGD, TGS and the Press Council reacted against the memorandum saying it is "very unfavourable and reclects a disadvantageous mentality,” "very strange and saddening in terms of our democracy,” "extremely unfavourable in terms of democratization,” "an illegitimate study.” The General Staff made a statement that read, “We announce to the public with respect that an investigation on the issue has been launched.” General Yasar Buyukanit, the Head of the General Staff said: “The memorandum was a draft. I did not see it.”
The alinteri.net Web site was suspended with a court order and the intervention of the Turkish Telecommunications Company, Turk Telekom, because of a news report on the working conditions of university workers, sent by an employee of the Selcuk University. Access to the Web site was made possible a week later, when on 6 March, the article was taken off the site. Employer Nusret Argun, who had filed a complaint about the news report, sued "Alinteri" Web site’s former chief editor Sakine Yalcın for 20 thousand YTL (11,495 euros) in damages. The trial will begin in April at the Konya Civil Court of First Instance.
It was the human rights activists, who defended the freedom of expression of Kenan Evren, a general of the 12 September coup d’etat and the 7the President. Evren had said that Turkey should be broken down into states. On 5 March, IHD Chairman Yusuf Alatas said: “It is impossible for us to accept the fact that an investigation has been launched because of Evren's statements.” Former Adana Public Prosecutor Sacit Kayasu, who lost his job when he launched a procedure to try Evren for his life because of the 12 September coup d’etat, said: "I would not have filed a suit against Evren because of these thoughts.”
The Free Thought and Education Rights Association (Ozgur Der) condemned that the Kirkuk Conference was outlawed with a decision of the governor’s office. The Kurdish National Democratic Working Group (KUDCG) was planning to organize the Kirkuk Conference on 4 March in Diyarbakir. The ban was based on article 17 of the Assembly and Demonstration Law No: 2911. According to this article, "The governor may outlaw if there is an open and imminent danger of crime.” In a statement, it was called on the government to once again “abandon policies of pressure and deterrence and policies, which harbour nationalistic waves.”
On 18 February, CGD reacted against a move by the Finance Ministry to probe the tax payments of "Kanalturk" television, the founders of the channel, and some programmers. CGD Head Ahmet Abakay stated that this practice meant that the government has appointed the Finance Ministry as a hood to “intimidate the media.” With a written statement by the Finance Ministry Revenue Administration Department Revenues Coordinator Metin Olcek dated 8 January 2007, the banks were asked to declare the nature and amount of the bank accounts of people and companies including Yasam Televizyonu Yayın Hizmetleri AS, Yasam Haber Ajansı Ticaret Limited Sirketi, Tuncay Ozkan, Cuneyt Arcayurek and Mine G. Kirikkanat. The statement also asked f
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