04 Mar 2020 Lvl. 1
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Alert created on: 07 Jan 2016 n° 2/2016 Turkey

Kurdish Media Journalists Arrested in Turkey

6 Journalists in detention
Source of threatState
CategoryDetention and imprisonment of journalists
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Nedim Oruç, correspondent for the Kurdish press agency DIHA, was arrested on 6 January 2016 by the authorities in Silopi (Turkey) and charged with “doing propaganda on behalf of an illegal organisation”. According to reports in DİHA, Mr Oruç was by force of arms taken to Yenişehir Indoor Sports Hall from a house situated in Şehit Harun neighborhood. According to testimony of eyewitnesses, journalist Oruç was beaten up during his arrest by local police. Media reports say that Mr Oruç is expected to be transferred to Şırnak F-Type Prison.
04 Mar 2020
On 3 March 2020, İdris Sayılğan, who was taken into custody on 29 February 2020 ,” has been released by a court order after his lawyers objected to his imprisonment. The 2nd Criminal Chamber of the Erzurum Regional Court of Justice ruled that Sayılğan “did not intend to violate the judicial control measure imposed on him".
02 Mar 2020
Taken into custody in Turkey's northwestern province of Edirne on 29 February 2020 while reporting on the situation of refugees heading towards the border with Greece, Mezopotamya Agency reporter İdris Sayılğan has been arrested allegedly for "attempting to cross border illegally despite being under an international travel ban" and sent to the Edirne Type F Closed Prison.
27 Nov 2019
On 27 November 2019, journalist Idris Sayılğan was released after his appeal was reviewed by the Erzurum Regional Court's 2nd Criminal Chamber. Sayılğan has been behind bars for 1137 days.
15 Nov 2019
On 25 October 2019, Uğur Akgül was released after his lawyer lodged an objection to his arrest on the basis of changes introduced by the judicial reform package that entered into force on 24 October 2019.
15 Nov 2019
On 30 October 2019, Abdullah Kaya, who had been detained since 24 December 2017, was released after his lawyer filed a request on the basis of amendments introduced by the judicial reform package that entered into force on 24 October 2019.
14 Nov 2019
On 7 July 2019, the Diyarbakir 11th High Criminal Court released Ferhat Parlak on probation, following the repentance of an anonymous witness. The journalist remains under judicial supervision pending trial.
13 Nov 2019
On 12 November 2019, Kibriye Evren was released on probation. The court imposed measures of judicial supervision and an international travel ban on the journalist. Her next hearing is scheduled on 10 March 2020.
05 Nov 2019
On 5 November 2019, journalist Berzan Güneş was sentenced to 3 years 15 months and 15 days on the charge of "terrorist propaganda" while being acquitted for "membership in a terrorist organization." Local reports stated that his lawyers will appeal the decision. Güneş remains free pending the appeal.
05 Nov 2019
On 5 November 2019, journalist Uğur Yılmaz was sentenced to 6 years 10 months and 15 days on the charge of "membership in a terrorist organiSation" while being acquitted for "terrorist propaganda." The court ordered his keeping in detention.
01 Nov 2019
On 25 October 2019, Mehmet Siddik Damar was released after his lawyer had requested the suspension of the execution of his sentence. The court ordered the journalist to be released as changes the judicial reform package entered in force on 24 October 2019 and opened the way for his retrial.
28 Oct 2019
On 25 October 2019, following an appeal based on changes in the law aimed at improving the freedoms of speech and the press that entered into force on 24 October 2019, the Court of Erciş ruled to release Idris Yilmaz.
25 Oct 2019
On 18 October 2019, the 5th High Criminal Court of Van acquitted Idris Yılmaz of “terrorism propaganda, but found him guilty of “membership in a terrorist organization” and sentenced him to 6 years and 3 months of imprisonment. The court also ruled to release Yılmaz, but he remained behind bars due to a previous conviction.
24 Sep 2019
On 24 September 2019, the Şırnak 1st Court of Serious Crime sentenced Ziya Ataman to 14 years, 3 months in prison on charge of “being a member of a terrorist organisation”. The journalist’s lawyers have stated that they will appeal against the prison sentence.
29 Jul 2019
According to media reports, Ziya Ataman's right to access healthcare are being restricted. The prison administration rejected his requests for referral to hospital though his doctor said that his intestines have a total organ failure.
03 May 2019
The Constitutional court rejected Ziya Ataman’s application on 16 April 2019. "The application is clearly baseless in terms of the claim that the person's rights to freedom and safety is violated because the arrest is not lawful and the period of arrest is not reasonable," the verdict said.
01 Apr 2019
Ziya Ataman, a reporter for the now-closed pro-Kurdish news agency DİHA, was arrested on 11 April 2016 under charges of “participating in an operation of a terrorist organisation”. Police detained Ataman after he participated in a protest in the province of Van, eastern Turkey. Ataman, who had previously been a distributor for the shut-down Özgür Gündem newspaper, had been working as an intern reporter at DİHA for seven months. The indictment was prepared in December 2017, almost 20 months after Ataman was arrested, on the basis of a witness statement claiming that Ataman had participated in one of the outlawed PKK attacks. The witness, who is also a relative of Ataman, later filed an official objection to his earlier statement, confessing that he had signed the statement “under threat and torture”. Ataman appeared in court for the first time on 2 March 2018, after almost two years in pre-trial detention, and was not able to give his defense during the second hearing, due to apparent misconnection of the video-conferencing system SEGBIS between his prison cell and the courtroom. Ataman reportedly went on a hunger strike on 1 March 2019. Ataman requested to give his defense in Kurdish at the 26 March 2019 hearing, and the court asked him to provide for translation at the next hearing, adjourning to 28 May 2019.
04 Feb 2019
On 23 January 2018, Idris Yilmaz a former reporter for the shuttered pro-Kurdish Dicle News Agency (DİHA), editor and reporter for the local online newspaper Ajans Erbil Haber and journalist for Gazete Yasam in Van province, was ordered arrested. He was convicted twice to a total of 7,5 years. The first time on 17 July 2018 to 1 year and 3 months for "insult and defamation via press". The second time on 3 January 2019 to 6 years and 3 months on "membership of a terrorist organisation." He is currently detained in Elazığ No.1 High Security Prison.
28 Jan 2019
İdris Sayılğan, a reporter for the now-closed pro-Kurdish news agency DİHA, was arrested on 24 October 2016 on charges of “membership of a terrorist organisation” and “terrorist propaganda”, and sent to a prison in the Trabzon province. The public prosecutor submitted an indictment citing Sayılğan’s news reports and transcriptions of phone calls with his source as criminal evidence. The first court hearing was held in November 2017, although Sayılğan was not physically present. After two years and three months in pre-trial detention, Sayılgan appeared in court for the first time on 25 January 2019, where he was sentenced on charges of “membership in a terrorist organisation” to 8 years and 3 months in prison. Sayılğan claims that he was subjected to torture and strip-search while in detention. On 8 October 2018, his lawyers and the London-based organisation Media Legal Defence Initiative (MLDI) filed a joint application to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). The Court has granted Sayılğan’s application priority review status. Sayılgan’s case is also pending before the local court of appeals.
17 Dec 2018
Uğur Yılmaz, a former reporter for the shut-down pro-Kurdish news agency DİHA, was arrested on 17 July 2017 in the Bitlis province. Yılmaz, who also worked in the city of Batman’s Press Department, is charged with “membership of a terrorist organisation” and “spreading terrorist propaganda”. The indictment is based on his attendance at several protests and press briefings, photos taken by him and anonymous witness statements as criminal evidence. The public prosecutor seeks a sentence of up to 25 years in prison. After about eight months of pre-trial detention in Bitlis, Yılmaz was sent to a prison in the distant city of Elazığ. The first hearing took place on 16 October 2018, after 16 months in detention, at Bitlis High Criminal Court No. 2, Yılmaz being connected to the courtroom from his cell in Elazığ via the video-conferencing system SEGBİS. Anonymous witness statements claimed seeing the journalist delivering packages on behalf of a terrorist organization, statements which the anonymous witness denied in court, saying that he did “not know the journalist” and that he had made those statements “under the influence of drugs.” At a hearing on 11 December 2018, the court decided to accept the anonymous witness’ testimony, and adjourned to 7 May 2019.
14 Dec 2018
On 11 October 2018, Kibriye Evren, a reporter of Jinha, was arrested in Diyarbakır on the charges of “membership in a terrorist organisation” and “terrorist propaganda”. She is currently held in Diyarbakır E-type prison. Her first hearing took place on 6 December 2018 during which prosecutors requested 22 years of prison time. The next hearing is scheduled on 18 July 2019.
04 Dec 2018
On 3 May 2018, Ismail Çoban, former Azadiya Welat managing editor, was arrested in Diyarbakır province, and convicted on 21 November 2018 to 5 years for "Consecutive terrorist propaganda". He is currently held in Diyarbakır D-type Prison. On 23 April 2018, he was detained in Mersin due to an arrest warrant in relation to an investigation of which he is a part, and brought before a Diyarbakır court. The court ruled to put him in pretrial detention on charges of “membership of a terrorist organization” and sent Çoban to Diyarbakır D-type prison. The accusations against him remained unclear initially as the prosecution requested a confidential sealing order on the case.
12 Oct 2018
On 28 September 2018, Mardin 2nd High Criminal Court sentenced Abdülkadir Turay to nine years in prison for "being a member of a [terrorist] organisation” and decided to keep him under arrest.
05 Sep 2018
On 8 August 20108, Uğur Akgül, a reporter for now-shuttered Dicle News Agency (DİHA), was arrested after his sentence of 2 years and 6 months was confirmed by an upper court. Akgül is charged over his journalistic work and reports during the curfew in Nusaybin district of Mardin province. Akgül was sent to the Mardin E-type prison to serve his sentence.
14 Jun 2018
Mehmet Sıddık Damar, a former reporter for the shuttered pro-Kurdish Dicle News Agency (DiHA), was re-arrested on 1 May 2018 in Istanbul over posts in his social media accounts. Damar was formerly detained and arrested on 18 August 2017 over posts he made on social media. He was taken into custody while visiting a courthouse in Mardin’s Kızıltepe district to testify in an investigation against him. The prosecutor overseeing his case sought Damar’s arrest on charges of disseminating the propaganda of a terrorist organization on social media. The court sentenced him to two years, six months, yet released him on 6 October 2017. He was being held in Mardin E-Type prison. Later the verdict was overturned by a Gaziantep district administrative court.. He is currently held in Silivri prison in Istanbul.
30 Apr 2018
On 11 April 2018, the police raided the house of Ferhat Parlak, the Silvan Mücadele newspaper owner, in Silvan district of Diyarbakir. He was transferred to the court after the police operations. On 14 April 2018, he was arrested on ongoing charges for "membership of a terrorist organisation" and he is currently held in Diyarbakır D-type Prison.
01 Mar 2018
On 28 February 2018, the Van 4 High Criminal Court ruled for the release of Ayhan Demir pending trial.
05 Sep 2017
On 5 September 2017, Emin Demir was sentenced to 4 years in prison on charges of “making propaganda for a terrorist organisation”.
21 Jun 2017
On 7 December 2016, Mehmet Güleş, Reporter of now-closed Dicle News Agency, was arrested on while reporting from a courthouse in Elazığ province, due to alleged “membership in a terrorist organisation” and “making propaganda for a terrorist organisation”. Prosecutors cited his phone calls and posts on social media as evidence. On 3 May 2017, a court convicted him and sentenced him to 9 years, 4 months and 15 days in prison. He is currently imprisoned in the Elazığ E-type prison.
30 Mar 2017
On 20 March 2017, journalist Ayhan Demir, editor of Çaldıran Haber Ajansi in the province of Van, has been arrested together with several local politicians following a police raid. Based on media reports, the journalist has been arrested for sharing several messages on social networks and is kept in jail at Van detention center since March 2017.
25 Jan 2017
On 19 January 2017, a journalist for the pro-Kurdish Dicle News Agency (DIHA) has been detained by the police based on pictures he took during a September event 2014 event in Ağrı called Peace and Nature festival in which flags and banners of the outlawed Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK) were visible. The prosecutor accused Abdullah Kaya of being a member of an illegal terrorist organisation. In May 2017, he was released pending trial but on December 2017, he was sent back to jail by the court of appeal which upheld an earlier guilty verdict. He is currently serving a four-year and two-month prison sentence for being a member of an illegal organisation.
12 Jul 2016
On 1st July 2016, the editor of Demokratik Ulus newspaper, Arafat Dayan, was arrested in Tarsus on charges of alleged violations of anti-terrorism laws. Mr Dayan had gone to the Tarsus District Police Station to renew his driver's license when police found an outstanding warrant for his arrest on charges the newspaper did not specify. Mr Dayan is imprisoned since July 2016 at the Silifke prison in Mersin.
13 Jun 2016
On 10 June 2016, a court of Cizre freed Nedim Oruç on bail of 5,000 Turkish liras, after five months' of pre-trial detention. The court banned Oruç from foreign travel.
06 Jun 2016
Emin Demir, a freelance reporter for DIHA news agency, was detained on 31 May 2016 on the basis of his social media posts on charges of "doing propaganda for an illegal organisation" and "inciting the public to hatred". (According to media report), a Court in Mersin condemned the journalist to 4 years in jail for his posts on social media .
30 May 2016
Five persons including DİHA reporter Abdulkadir Turay taken into custody in Mardin on 5 May 2016 were then arrested on charges of “aiding and abetting an [illegal] organization”. The journalist was arrested together with Kurdish politicians during a house raid by Turkish gendarmerie in Savur district of Mardin province. Turay is in detention since May 2016 at Mardin E Type closed prison.
08 Mar 2016
On 13 February 2016, Serkan Aydemir, a reporter for Bitlis Aktüel, was arrested following a police operation in the Tatvan district of Bitlis, in south-eastern Turkey. He was transferred to the Bitlis E-type prison on allegations of supporting a terrorist organisation.
28 Oct 2019
OSCE Media Freedom Representative welcomes release of several journalists in Turkey, calls for further reforms that ensure better legal protection.
Journalists in detention

Currently in detention (6):

Abdulkadir Turay; Ismail Çoban, Mehmet Güleş, Serkan Aydemir, Uğur Yılmaz, Ziya Ataman
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