MARCH 2019

1 March

Flash TV says it taking a two-month hiatus because it can no longer cope with administrative, political and financial pressures.

Eren Erdem, a former Republican People’s Party (CHP) MP and former editor-in-chief of the now-closed Karşı newspaper, is sentenced to four years and two months in prison on aiding a terrorist organization without being a member.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls on the Turkish government to desist from interfering with international journalists' work in the country and to renew accreditation for journalists who are waiting for new documentation. In recent days, the Turkish government has refused to extend accreditation for ZDF Turkey correspondent Jorg Brase and Tagesspiegel reporter Thomas Seibert.

Journalists Erdoğan Alayumat and Nuri Akman, who were captured and charged with membership in a terrorist organization and espionage due to photos they took while covering a story, are acquitted by the Hatay 2nd Court of Serious Crimes. Alayumat, who was released in May 2018, spent 10 months in prison in the case.

2 March

Police confiscate images from Pir News Agency (PİRHA) reporter İsmet Sefer as he covers the Peoples' Democratic Congress (HDK) Peoples and Beliefs Commission’s second Mother Tongue Gathering.

3 March

Faruk Bildirici, Hürriyet's reader representative and ombudsman, is fired after 27 years at the paper.

4 March

The Istanbul 30th Court of Serious Crimes accepts an indictment against journalist Can Dündar and 15 others regarding the 2013 Gezi Uprising. The prosecutor in the case is demanding aggravated life sentences for the suspects on the charges of “attempting to overthrow the government of the Turkish Republic or prevent it from discharging its duties" and “financing the Gezi incidents.”

5 March

TV5 ends Çağlar Cilara’s program after he asked questions about the LGBTI community during an interview with Republican People’s Party (CHP) mayoral candidate in Istanbul’s Beyoğlu district, Alper Taş.

A libel case against former Evrensel Editor Cem Şimşek that was opened by Treasury and Economy Minister Berat Albayrak over a 13 July 2018 story regarding the minister’s plans for workers is postponed because the judge is on holiday.

6 March

Police in Dersim (Tunceli) detain Mezopotamya Agency reporter Semra Turan and nine others in morning raids.

Journalist İdris Yılmaz, who has been in jail for almost a year, relates some of the rights violations that are occurring in his prison. Many copies of Evrensel and BirGün are confiscated because they “threaten the security of the prison,” Yılmaz said, noting that the Yeni Yaşam newspaper is also banned. “Packages that come for us are also returned without any reason.”

Evrensel reporter Cansu Pişkin appears at the Istanbul 36th Court of Serious Crimes for a first hearing on charges of libel. The case was adjourned until 25 March.

News emerges that the prosecutor who prepared the Sözcü indictment was sentenced to prison time and ordered to pay a fine for defrauding a suspect in another case.

The Istanbul 20th Civil Court of First Instance holds a hearing against Evrensel, which is facing a 50,000 TL in fines for “violating the personal rights" of Bilal Erdoğan, the son of the president, in a story titled “Bribery is our traditional sport,” which was published on 9 March 2014. The case was adjourned until 15 October.

7 March

The Istanbul 3rd Criminal Court of Peace orders the seizure of the 15 February 2019 edition of the Yeni Yaşam newspaper following a demand from the Istanbul Chief Prosecutor’s Office.

Mezopotamya Agency reporter Semra Turan and three others are released on probation, one day after they were detained in raids in Dersim (Tunceli).

Evrensel Editor-in-Chief Fatih Polat is acquitted in a trial on charges of “violating the confidentiality of communication between people.”

8 March

At least 15 women journalists spend 8 March World Women’s Day in Turkey’s prisons.

Deputy President Fuat Oktay responds to a question from the main opposition, noting that the government has rejected 22,202 of 44,417 applications for a yellow press card in the last three years.

Mezopotamya Agency reporter Yasin Kobulan is sentenced to a suspended one year, six months and 22 days for “repeatedly conducting terrorist propaganda.”

Hürriyet Editor-in-Chief Çetin Emeç is commemorated on the 29th anniversary of his murder.

9 March

Komite Journal News Editor Çayan Akbıyık is detained in Istanbul’s Kadıköy district.

11 March

The Tunceli 1st Court of Serious Crimes hears the sixth hearing against against Evrensel Dersim (Tunceli) reporter Kemal Özer, who was arrested on 4 September 2017 on terrorist membership charges before spending 16 months behind bars. The court refused to end Özer’s probation restrictions before adjourning the final case until 27 March.

Gün Printing House License Holder Kasım Zengin and workers Erdoğan Zamur, İrfan Karaca, Mahmut Abay and İhsan Silmiş released in an ongoing trial against the workplace for printing the now-closed Özgürlükçü Demokrasi newspaper

German journalists Jörg Brase and Thomas Seibert are forced to leave Turkey after authorities refused to renew their press cards. “There’s almost no critical news anymore,” Brase said, while Seibert highlighted the more than 130 journalists in Turkish jails, noting that “it’s much tougher for our Turkish colleagues.”

12 March

The European Court of Human Rights rules that Turkey violated "freedom of expression" in the case of Ali Gürbüz, the owner of the now-closed Ülkede Özgür Gündem newspaper, ordering the country to pay 3,500 euros.

Turkey extends the press card for ZDF’s Istanbul Bureau Chief Jörg Brase. Turkey had previously refused to do so, forcing Brase to leave Turkey on 10 March.

13 March

Sabah writer Ömer Karahan targets and insults musician Ahmet Aslan after the latter denied that he was Turkish. Karahan declared that Aslan, a Dersim-born (Tunceli) musician who lives in Germany, was “rejecting his heritage,” “rejecting his country,” and “displaying a fascist stance.”

Yeni Yaşam workers Murat Sekmen and Tuba Salman are detained along with a number of others in Mersin.

14 March

A case against Fox TV anchor Fatih Portakal is dropped. The journalist had been facing charges of membership in the Gülenist organization.

Journalist Mehmet Gündem appears at the Istanbul 35th Court of Serious Crimes for a fourth hearing on charges of membership in the Gülenist organization. The court refused to release Gündem, adjourning the case until 8 May.

A court in Adana hears a first libel case opened by Dünya newspaper Adana representative Recep Şenyurt against a woman he allegedly harassed. While Şenyurt is demanding 26,000 TL in compensation, women’s groups vowed that “women who do not remain silent will be victorious.” The case was adjourned until 24 September.

15 March

The Istanbul 37th Court of Serious Crimes adjourns a second hearing in the Sözcü newspaper case until 18 April.

16 March

The One Free Press Coalition declares Cumhuriyet reporter Pelin Ünker, who has worked on the Turkish leg of the Paradise Papers, as one of the world’s most under-threat journalists.

A Turkish court upholds a decision not to pursue a case against Evrensel after Ankara University Rector Erkan İbiş filed a complaint against the paper for a story in 2017.

17 March

The Demirören Media Group publishes fakes news regarding Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) Co-Chair Sezai Temelli. “Open confession and threat from HDP Co-Chair Sezai Temelli: İmamoğlu and Yavaş won’t run Istanbul and Ankara, the HDP will,” Hürriyet said in its headline, referring to the main opposition’s candidates in the respective cities.

18 March

A case against documentary filmmaker Kazım Kızıl and 23 others for insulting the president and “violating the law on rallies and marches” is adjourned until 19 June.

19 March

Mezopotamya Agency Dersim (Tunceli) reporter Semra Turan is detained by police after they called her to the station to pick up her camera, which they had previously seized when they apprehended her.

Journalist Hacı Yusuf Topaloğlu is detained in a house raid in Semsûr’s (Adıyaman) Kahta district. The journalist was subsequently released but banned from leaving the country.

A court in Istanbul hears a case against journalist Ahmet Altan on charges that he insulted the president. The court sentenced Altan to 11 months and 20 days in prison in the case before commuting the sentence to a 7,000-TL fine.

Former Evrensel News Editor Çağrı Sarı is acquitted in a case in which she was charged over her role in reporting on the Paradise Papers.

20 March

Mezopotamya Agency reporter Ahmet Kanbal and JinNews reporter Rojda Aydın are detained while covering a story in Mêrdîn (Mardin). The pair were later released.

The witnesses in a case against journalist Beritan Canözer announce during her first hearing at the Diyarbakır 9th Court of Serious Crimes that their statements against her were taken under torture. Canözer is on trial for membership in a terrorist organization.

An appellate court conducts a hearing against journalist Seda Taşkın, who was released in an interim decision. The case was adjourned until 15 May.

Journalist Esra Solin Dal is acquitted in a case at the Diyarbakır 10th Court of Serious Crimes.

21 March

Figures reveal that Turkish state newscaster TRT Haber spent six hours and 12 months airing news against the Republican People’s Party (CHP) in the first 15 days of March. It also broadcast one hour and 38 minutes and one hour and 10 minutes against the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) and the Good Party, respectively.

The Istanbul 2nd Court of First Instance orders journalist Perihan Mağden to pay 7,000 TL in fines for insulting the president in a story that criticized a participant in Survivor. Former T24 News Editor İnan Ketenciler was acquitted in the same case.

Former Cumhuriyet News Editors Faruk Eren and Bülent Özdoğan are ordered to pay 84,000 TL over a story printed about Environment and Urban Planning Minister Mehmet Özhaseki. Eren and Özdoğan will be on probation in the case for five years.

22 March

Mezopotamya Agency reporter Semra Turan, who was detained on 19 March in Dersim (Tunceli), is released in Ankara.

Sabah newspaper is ordered to pay 1 TL in symbolic compensation to Republican People’s Party (CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu for its news alleging that he received a file on a case in which Turkey was running weapons to jihadists in Syria from former Zaman News Editor Ekrem Dumanlı.

The Van High-Security Prison censors a letter from arrested Dicle News Agency (DİHA) reporter Nedim Türfent that contained a reference to Iranian writer Daryush Shayegan's book “Wounded Consciousness.” According to the commission, Türfent's line that "Thieves are appointed to the government" was  “problematic.”

Journalist Ayşenur Arslan is detained in Eskişehir for not appearing at a hearing. Arslan was released pending her pledge to provide a statement the following day.

Mehmet Baransu, a reporter from the now-closed Taraf newspaper, and other administrators from the paper appear before the Istanbul 13th Court of Serious Crimes. The case was adjourned until 25 March.

23 March

Syrian print shop worker Adnan Hamo dies after falling into a pedal-powered cutting machine in Istanbul.

25 March

Yeni Yaşam workers Murat Sekmen and Tuba Salman, as well as 12 others who were detained on 13 March, are dispatched to a court in Mersin with a demand for their arrest.

Pro-government A Haber and Sabah writer Melih Altınok take aim at the “Güldür Güldür Show,” a comedy program, after it made fun of the pro-government media in a sketch. “A perception operation from Güldür Güldür Show on the eve of the election!” A Haber said in a tweet.

A prosecutor demands Evrensel reporter Cansu Pişkin’s punishment for “targeting a public servant involved in the fight against terrorism.” The case was adjourned until 7 May.

Mehmet Baransu, a reporter from the now-closed Taraf newspaper, and other administrators from the paper appear before the Istanbul 13th Court of Serious Crimes following an adjournment on 22 March. The court ordered Baransu to remain in prison while adjourning the case until 10-11 July.

26 March

The Istanbul 33rd Court of Serious Crimes conducts a fourth hearing against photographer and journalist Çağdaş Erdoğan on terrorist propaganda charges. The court adjourned the case until 7 May.

Journalist Ziya Ataman, who has been under arrest for close to three years, appears before a court for his sixth hearing. The court refused to release Ataman, who has difficulty standing without medical aid, and adjourned the case until 28 May, when the prosecutor is expected to present his final decision.

The Istanbul 28th Court of Serious Crimes sentences journalist İshak Karakaş to a suspended one year, six months and 22 days in prison on terrorist propaganda charges for his social media posts about Turkey’s invasion of Efrîn (Afrin).

27 March

Flash TV, which went on a hiatus on 1 March due to “administrative, political and financial” pressures, lays off 23 workers.

Evrensel Dersim (Tunceli) reporter Kemal Özer is sentenced to six years and three months in prison on terrorism membership charges. Özer, who already spent 16 months under arrest in the case, will appeal the sentence, according to his lawyers.

Etkin News Agency (ETHA) Editor Semiha Şahin and and reporter Pınar Gayıp, who have been under arrest for 11 months on terrorist membership and terrorist propaganda charges, appear for a hearing at the Istanbul 23rd Court of Serious Crimes. The court refused to release the pair, adjourning the case until 13 June.

Mezopotamya Agency reporter Lezgin Akdeniz, who was detained along with more than 140 people in October 2018, is sentenced to a suspended 15 months in prison on terrorist propaganda charges. Akdeniz was also acquitted on terrorist membership charges.

28 March

Courts in Istanbul hear and adjourn three separate cases involving the now-closed Özgür Gündem newspaper. A case into 23 writers and workers from the publication on terrorist propaganda charges was adjourned until 8 May, while another case against former Editors-in-Chief Hüseyin Aykol and Zana Kaya, as well as News Editor İnan Kızılkaya and former Democratic Society Congress Chair Hatip Dicle was postponed until 16 May. A third case against 10 journalists, including DİSK Basın-İş Chair Faruk Eren, for participating in a solidarity campaign with the newspaper was postponed until 3 April.

A case against Cumhuriyet reporter Pelin Ünker over her coverage of the Paradise Papers is dropped due to the statute of limitations.

A court conducts a second hearing against former Zaman News Editor Harun Çümen, who has been in jail for a year on terrorist membership charges. The court ordered Çümen’s continued arrest while adjourning the case until 19 June.

The Istanbul 35th Court of Serious Crimes conducts a fifth hearing against former Zaman Konya representative Şirin Kabakçı on terrorist membership charges. The court adjourned the case until 2 July to provide time for the prosecutor to prepare his final opinion in the case.

Cumhuriyet’s book supplement fails to run a piece – despite advertising on the front that cover that it was doing so – by Bülent Forta about DİSK Basın-İş Chair Faruk Eren’s new book “The Story of a Lost Revolution - Once Upon a Time in Hasköy" about his years with his older brother, Hayrettin Eren, who went missing in custody.

Yeldana Kaharman, a presenter on local television in Elazığ is found dead in her home. Her channel, Kanal 23, said her death was suspicious.

Steve Sweeney, an editor with Britain’s Morning Star, is detained as he arrives in Turkey to cover the 31 March local elections.

29 March

Steve Sweeney, an editor with Britain’s Morning Star who was detained as he arrived in Turkey the previous day to cover the 31 March local elections, is deported.

Journalist Hüseyin Torun announces that he was forced to leave his job after telling the public how Justice and Development Party (AKP) MP Ahmet Uzer insulted locals.

30 March

Police raid the house of journalist Muhammet Doğru in Istanbul’s Ataşehir district at 1.30 in the morning, but they were unable to detain him because he was not present.

31 March

Police hit and threaten JinNews reporter Gülistan Azak as she watches Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) Rezik (Bağlar) candidate Zübeyde Zümrüt cast her vote. After Zümrüt objected to the police’s actions, they beat and threatened her as well.