March1, 2012

One hundred and four journalists and 30 distributors/members of the media were imprisoned as we entered the year 2012. In 2010, there were a total of 30 journalists in prison.- Bia Media Monitoring Report

The year 2011 was a year of mass journalist arrests. The Turkish Penal Code (TCK) and the Anti-Terror Law (TMK) were applied jointly in these arrests. All the arrested journalists were accused with having “connections with a terrorist organization,” be it “armed or not.” This led to a mentality that applied “politics” rather than “law,” and did away with the right to a fair trial and the principle of legality in crime.

One hundred and four journalists and 30 distributors/members of the media were initially “arrested” for “membership in an armed group” through journalism. Some of them are on trial for “committing an offense on behalf of the group without being a member of that group,” and/or “knowingly and willingly assisting a group although not being in the hierarchical structure of the group.” Some are on trial for setting up an armed or unarmed group, motivating and directing it, and/or being a member of it. The court has delivered a judgment in some of these trials.

Journalists were presented as “terrorists” through supplemental claims such as following-up news, covering news, writing books, opposing the government through journalism, and working for the Kurdish media.

In the trials, only six journalists are directly being accused for and charged with their news reports, articles or books: Vedat Kurşun, Ruken Ergün and Ozan Kılınç, editors-in-chief of the Azadiya Welat newspaper, Erdoğan Altan, Batman representative of Dicle News Agency (DİHA), Diyarbakır representative Kadri Kaya, and Bedri Adanır, owner of the Aram Publishing and an executive of the Hawar newspaper.

Despite the fact that arrest is a precautionary measure and can be replaced with judiciary control provisions, criteria such as “danger of absconding,” “destruction, concealment, alteration of evidence,” “influencing the witnesses,” and “intense and strong suspicion of crime” were applied as ordinary and routine practices. These served as grounds for the arrest of journalist and to keep them under arrest for months or even years.

All journalists except one, and all distributors are currently in prison for “connections with a terrorist organization” under the Anti-Terror Law (TMK) and Turkish Penal Code (TCK). Sixty-four of the 104 journalists and all 30 distributors are from the Kurdish media.

BIA Media Monitoring Report 2011/Full Text