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BIANET's quarterly report documents continuing harassment of, legal action against journalists

(BIANET/IFEX) - The following is a 6 July 2007 BIANET press release:

Bianet Publishes Quarterly Media Report

The quarterly BIANET report for April to June 2007 reveals that journalists and reporters in Turkey still face harassment and legal consequences for informing the public. Four journalists are awaiting trial under Article 301.

The last three months (April to June), have witnessed the trial of 132 people and seven media organs. The quarterly BIANET media report lists information on them and many other forms of harassment.

The full report is presently available in Turkish:
and in English:

The BIANET report lists the trials at Turkish courts and appeals to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

The BIANET report is organised under:
- attacks and threats
- arrests and detentions
- trials and interferences
- corrections and seeking justice
- European Court of Human Rights
- reactions to censure
- RTÜK implementations

It has become obvious that neither the government nor the opposition is interested in changing the controversial Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code, which obstructs the freedom of expression and has arguably also led to the targeting and later murder of journalist Hrant Dink.

In the last three months, 21 court cases have continued:
- twelve cases under Article 301
- five under Article 216, for "inciting hate and hostility"
- four cases for "spreading propaganda for a terrorist organisation"

For instance, following a complaint by the Gendarmerie General Command, Ahmet Sik and Lale Sariibrahimoglu are on trial for "degrading the armed forces", with three-year sentences being demanded. The trial, to start on 24 October, is based on an interview which Sik conducted with Sariibrahimoglu for the "Nokta" magazine.

Haci Bogatekin, the owner of a local newspaper in Adiyaman (south-east Turkey), will appear in court on 25 July for "degrading the state" in an article criticising Turkey.

Eren Keskin, a lawyer and former president of the Istanbul Branch of the Human Rights Association (IHD), is on trial for using the term "Kurdistan" at a panel condemning sexual violence towards women in 2004. He is accused of "inciting hate and hostility".

Sait Bayram, a news director of Söz TV channel and a newspaper in Diyarbakir (south-eastern Turkey), and Firat Avci, a reporter for the same employer, were arrested on 18 June for alleging that a judge was transferred because he had been taking bribes. They have been accused of "insulting through the media" and are being held in a Diyarbakir prison. Their appeals have been rejected and their trial begins on 20 July at a penal court in Diyarbakir.

In the previous quarter, Sinan Kara from Batman and Mustafa Koyuncu from Afyonkarahisar were arrested over similar cases.

Twenty-three people, among them journalists and writers, were arrested in September 2006 in an operation targeting the Marxist Leninist Communist Party (MLKP).

Their trial begins on 26 October at a heavy penal court in Besiktas, Ýstanbul. Among them are Füsun Erdogan, a broadcast coordinator of Özgür radio station, Ibrahim Cicek, the editor-in-chief of the "Atilim" newspaper, and Sedat Senoglu, a publishing coordinator of the same newspaper. Life sentences of over 40 years are demanded for them and some others. The reason for their arrest is being kept secret. By the time the trial starts, they will have been in detention for 13 months.

The worst physical attacks on journalists this year were experienced when they were covering the syndicate 1 May rally in Taksim, Ýstanbul. Despite obviously being journalists, many were attacked by the police. Hundreds of journalists later marched in protest against the police and the governor.

In the last three months, there have been 17 attacks and six threats, compared with nine attacks against media institutions in the first quarter of 2007.

In this quarter, the ECHR has sentenced Turkey to paying a total of 78,250 euros (around 140,430 YTL) in 25 appeals concerning the freedom of expression. In all of 2006, Turkey had to pay a total of 398,000 YTL (approx. 227,397 euros). In the first quarter of 2007, Turkey was sentenced to paying 18,000 YTL (approx. 10,284 euros).

In three cases, courts rejected claims for compensation:
- A paper and carton company in Dalaman, MOPAK, had demanded a 300,000 YTL (approx. 171,263 euros) compensation from the "Güney Ege" newspaper. The demand was rejected.
- Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's claim for a 25,000 YTL (approx. 14,271 euros) compensation from the caricature magazine "Leman" was rejected.
- In the case of former transportation minister Binali Yildirim against journalist and writer Saruhan Oluc, the former was not successful in claiming 50,000 YTL (approx. 28,532 euros) as compensation.

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