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Turkey's "black list" casts a long shadow

Independent Turkish news sources have reported a rumoured "black list" of Turkish journalists they fear police will arrest in coming weeks. The rumour comes as 12 news websites are blocked, journalists are fired from their jobs, and radio and television channels affiliated with the Hizmet movement are banned.

The Ankara police headquarters is seen through a car's broken window caused by fighting during a coup attempt in Turkey, 19 July 2016
The Ankara police headquarters is seen through a car's broken window caused by fighting during a coup attempt in Turkey, 19 July 2016

REUTERS/Baz Ratner

This statement was originally published on cpj.org on 18 July 2016.

By Özgür Öğret/CPJ Turkey Representative

Broadcast regulator bans TV, radio stations
Turkey's broadcast regulator, the RTÜK, today announced that it had in an extraordinary session cancelled the licenses of all radio and television channels affiliated with the banned Hizmet movement -- followers of Fethullah Gülen, an exiled preacher whom the Turkish government accuses of maintaining a terrorist organization and "parallel state structure" within Turkey that the government claims orchestrated a failed July 15 coup attempt. The RTÜK's brief statement did not specify which stations had lost their licenses, or on what basis regulators had determined the stations were allied with the Hizmet movement.

Russian journalist denied entry, second detained
Border control officers at Istanbul's Atatürk Airport denied entry to Valentin Trushnin and Mihail Fomichev, journalists with the Russian TV channel REN TV, the station reported today. Trushnin described being held in a windowless room for "about a day" without being allowed to make any phone calls before being sent to Baku. According to the station, the two journalists were told their names were on a list of people forbidden entry to Turkey.

At least 12 news websites blocked since failed coup attempt
Regulators have blocked access to at least 12 news websites since factions of the Turkish military unsuccessfully attempted to overthrow the government, the Turkey Journalists Association reported today. Regulators blocked access to Medyascope, Gazeteport, Rotahaber, ABC Gazetesi, Karşı Gazete, Haberdar, Aktif Haber, Postmedya, S Medya, Özgür Düşünce, Meydan and Yarına Bakış, the association said. Medyascope negotiated with authorities to have the block lifted, but the other 11 remain inaccessible to internet users in Turkey.

Sixty journalists fired from news agency
Court-appointed trustees close to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) fired some 60 reporters, editors, and technical staff from the Cihan news agency today, according to press reports. Police on March 5, 2016, used tear gas and water cannons in a raid of news agency's parent company, Feza Media Group, to implement the order to oust the group's leadership on the grounds that it was close to the Hizmet movement, former allies of the AKP whom the ruling party now blames for orchestrating the July 15 failed coup attempt.

Purported journalist 'black list' stokes journalist fears
Opposition and independent Turkish news sources have reported a rumored "black list" of Turkish journalists they fear police will arrest in coming weeks. An anonymous, pro-AKP Twitter user, @Baskentcii, who frequently writes on Twitter about behind-the-scenes political wrangling in Ankara, apparently with access to inside information, has since Saturday been naming journalists he or she claims the government plans to have arrested. Police have detained nearly 20,000 soldiers, judges, and civil servants since the July 15 attempted coup, according to press reports, leading to fears of an intensified crackdown on the press.

[July 19, 2016]

Regulators block news websites
The TİB, Turkey's telecommunications regulator, on Sunday blocked access to at least five news websites, according to press reports. The website of the Can Erzincan TV satellite station and the news websites Gazetport and Haberdar, which regulators blocked Sunday, are sympathetic to the Hizmet movement, which the Turkish government blames for last weekend's failed coup attempt. The websites Medyascope and ABC Gazetesi, which regulators also blocked, are independent in their coverage, and have often been critical of the Hizmet movement in the past.

ABC Gazetesi editor Merdan Yanardağ, in particular, is widely known in Turkey as a vocal critic of the Hizmet movement, which he blames for his imprisonment on charges of plotting against the government in 2013, when the Hizmet movement and the ruling Justice and Development Party were still in a tactical alliance to reduce the influence of the military and security agencies in politics.

Medyascope later announced they had negotiated with regulators to get the order to block the site revoked. ABC Gazetesi changed its web address to circumvent the censorship.

Dozens of youths attack Istanbul newspaper offices
Dozens of young men vandalized the offices of the local Istanbul newspaper Gazetem İstanbul last night, the newspaper reported on its website. Security camera footage the newspaper posted online seems to show the building's private security officers allowing the youths to enter unchallenged. The newspaper reported the youths told the security officers that the newspaper supported the July 15 attempted coup. In fact, Gazetem İstanbul's first headline after the attempt was, "An honorable stance against the coup." The newspaper's offices were empty at the time, and no one was injured in the attack.

Police seek to detain journalist from home before dawn
Police sought to detain Arzu Yıldız, Ankara correspondent for the news website Haberdar, from her home at 5:20 this morning, she reported. Yıldız said she was not home at the time, but said she would voluntarily go to the prosecutor's office to testify. A court in Tarsus on May 18 sentenced the journalist to 20 months in prison and suspended custody of her children, CPJ reported at the time. That sentence is suspended while she appeals the verdict.

Journalist on probation after five months in pretrial detention
Authorities released Nuri Akman, Van Province correspondent for the pro-Kurdish Dicle News Agency (DİHA) from prison today at the first hearing of his trial, DİHA and other news agencies reported. Police arrested Akman in Malatya Province in early February on suspicion of "being member of a [terrorist] organization," CPJ reported at the time, and had held him in pretrial detention since.

Akman's lawyer, Sidar Öztürk, told CPJ that the journalist's legal team did not know what charges Akman faces because the court had ordered the trial to be conducted in secret. DİHA today reported that Akman's reporting trip to the Syrian city of Kobane, and his posts to social media websites from conflict zone were introduced as evidence against the journalist in the initial investigation.

Malatya's Second Court of Serious Crimes ordered the journalist released under judicial control, pending the conclusion of his trial. He is next scheduled to appear before the court on August 16.

[July 18, 2016]

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