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Six Turkish journalists sentenced to over 16 years in prison
 06 Apr 2021
Republican People's Party (CHP) Eskişehir MP Utku Çakırözer, also a former journalist, has released his monthly Press Freedom Report.

The report of the main opposition MP has shown that nearly 100 journalists, including Olcay Büyüktaş, Nagehan Alçı, İpek Özbey, Hakan Aygün, Mustafa Sönmez, appeared before the judge in March 2021.

Six journalists, including Odatv Ankara News Director Müyesser Yıldız, Tele1 Ankara Representative İsmail Dükel and sendika.org executive Ali Ergin Demirhan were sentenced to 16 years, 2 months in prison. Demirhan's prison sentence was changed into a judicial fine. Sözcü columnist Yılmaz Özdil and journalist Alican Uludağ also faced investigations.

Çakırözer's report has also indicated that Hazım Özsu, a radio presenter of a local channel in Bursa, was shot to death by a person who had been following his program for a year. Halk TV presenter and Diken columnist Levent Gültekin was attacked by a group of 25 people with punches and kicks in front of the Halk TV office in Bakırköy, İstanbul.

Three journalists, including Enver Aysever and Yağmur Kaya, a Artı Gerçek reporter following up the Boğaziçi University protests, were detained.

The MP has reminded the public that the Constitutional Court has found the "public ad cut" imposed on Korkusuz Newspaper by the Press Advertisement Institution (BİK) against the Constitution.

Çakırözer has raised concerns that the BİK cut the public ads of daily BirGün for two days and those of Evrensel newspaper for 5 days despite the top court ruling. The Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) also gave 4 separate administrative fines to Tele1 and Halk TV.

Sharing details about the access blocks as well, Çakırözer's report has noted that an access block was imposed on the websites of Etkin News Agency (ETHA) and Mezopotamya Agency (MA) in March. According to the data compiled by the Freedom of Expression Association (İFÖD), access blocks were imposed on news reports with 16 different contents.

According to the report, the official Twitter account of the CHP, the opposition MPs' social media messages about the economy and the website of the İFÖD itself were also faced with access blocks.

That is, an access block was imposed on an İFÖD content about an access block. Among the news faced with access blocks in March were also the ones about a meat fraud scandal and HalkBank case in the US.

Commenting on the violations of press freedom in March, CHP's Çakırözer has raised concerns that "the BİK is now also defying the Constitutional Court rulings, following suit of other institutions."

Criticizing the BİK for keeping on cutting public ads of newspapers despite the top court's recent ruling of right violation, Çakırözer has said that this attitude means "floating the law." He has underlined that "the fines imposed by the BİK on newspapers and by the RTÜK on channels, along with incrementally increasing access blocks on news and websites, hinder people's right to get information and freedom of press."

"Without removing the obstacles standing in the way of press freedom, one cannot talk about democracy in Turkey," he has noted.


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