|Murat Aksoy, Yeni Hayat
|September 1, 2016
Police in Istanbul detained Aksoy, a former columnist for the shuttered daily newspaper Yeni Hayat, on September 1, 2016, as part of a sweeping purge of suspected followers of exiled preacher Fethullah Gülen, whom the Turkish government accuses of maintaining a terrorist organization and "parallel state structure" (FETÖ/PDY, by its Turkish acronym), and of masterminding a July 15, 2016, failed military coup.
Istanbul's First Court of Penal Peace on September 3, 2016, ordered Aksoy jailed, pending trial on charges of willingly aiding a terrorist group, FETÖ/PDY.
According to court documents seen by CPJ, 48-year-old Aksoy told the court, in response to questioning, that he wrote a column for the pro-government daily Yeni Safak until January 2014, but the newspaper fired him for "deviating from the general editorial line of the newspaper."
Aksoy said later he wrote columns for the daily newspaper Millet, which a court in October 2015 ordered placed under government-appointed trustees for what the court ruled were the newspaper's ties to FETÖ/PDY. Following Millet's takeover, Aksoy told the court, he wrote columns for news website Haberdar until June 2016, when he moved to the daily newspaper Yeni Hayat.
The state telecommunications regulator shut down Haberdar on July 17, 2016. The government used emergency powers it assumed after the July 2016 failed coup attempt to shut down Yeni Hayat by decree on July 27, 2016. Yeni Hayat was founded by journalists from the daily newspaper Zaman, after an Istanbul court in March 2016 ordered the Feza Media Group, which owned Zaman and several other media outlets, placed under the trusteeship of figures appointed by the government. The government used emergency powers it assumed after the failed July 15, 2016, military coup to order the newspaper closed by decree on July 27, 2016.
Aksoy told the court he stopped writing for Yeni Hayat after July 15, 2016, according to the documents seen by CPJ.
According to the record of his arraignment, prosecutors asked Aksoy why he deleted posts from his Twitter account before he was arrested. He was also asked about a comment he made on a TV program in September 2015. Prosecutors understood this comment as calling for a military intervention in politics, but Aksoy said he was only commenting on the mood in Turkish politics before the November 1, 2015, elections. The court records do not indicate what specific comment Aksoy made, or on what television program he made it.
Aksoy's lawyer, Meriç Eyüboglu, told the court that the defense could not see the evidence against her client, as there was court order for secrecy of the investigation, which impinged on her client's right to a fair trial. She said the prosecution's questions about Aksoy's columns and social media activity led the defense to understand that prosecutors sought the journalist's arrest for his journalistic activities.
The court, explaining its ruling to jail Aksoy pending trial, cited "concrete evidence" the journalist had aided FETÖ/PDY, without specifying what that evidence was.
As of late 2016, Aksoy had not been indicted, and there was no date set for his trial. He is in Istanbul's Silivri prison.
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