Yeni Hayat | Imprisoned in Turkey | July 26, 2016

Job:Internet Reporter, Print reporter
Medium:Internet, Print
Beats Covered:Corruption, Crime, Human Rights, Politics, War
Local or Foreign:Local
Length of Sentence:Not Sentenced
Reported Health Problems:No

Police in Istanbul detained Bayram Kaya, a former reporter for the daily newspaper Zaman and later Yeni Hayat, on July 26, 2016, as part of a sweeping purge of journalists and others suspected of following exiled preacher Fethullah Gülen, according to press reports . The government accuses of Gülen maintaining a terrorist organization and "parallel state structure" (or FETÖ/PDY, as the government calls it) within Turkey that it blames for orchestrating a failed military coup on July 15, 2016.

Istanbul's Fifth Court of Penal Peace on June 30, 2016, arraigned Kaya and 16 other journalists, ordering them jailed pending trial on charges of "being members of an armed terrorist organization," according to the media monitoring group P24.

The daily newspaper Hürriyet reported that the 17 journalists were questioned by prosecutors on accusations of "being members of an armed terrorist organization," "founding or leading an armed terrorist organization," "knowingly and willingly helping [a terrorist] organization without being involved in the organization's hierarchical structure," and "committing crimes in the name of a [terrorist] organization without being a member."

A court in March 2016 ordered Zaman's parent company, the Feza Media Group, put under trustees selected by the government, saying the company and the newspaper had ties to the Gülenist network. After the government-appointed trustees took control of Zaman and the newspaper's editorial line changed accordingly, a group of Zaman journalists founded the newspaper Yeni Hayat. That newspaper stopped publishing after the failed July 2016 coup attempt.

CPJ research shows that authorities have targeted dozens of former Zaman journalists with arrest and prosecution on terrorism charges since the failed July 2016 coup.

In the original indictment, all but one of 17 c-accused in Kaya's case were charged with "being a member of an armed [terrorist] organization," which carries up to 10 years in prison, according to reports. The indictment accused the defendants of manipulating public perception of FETÖ to turn people against the government, which, prosecutors argued, made them members of the group.

CPJ found the indictment to be similar to those presented at trials of other journalists in Turkey. Prosecutors cited as evidence journalistic activity or acts of free speech and communication, or cited circumstantial evidence such as being employed by a certain media outlet or having an account at a bank allegedly linked to Gülenists.

In Kaya's case, prosecutors cited as evidence the journalist's three books on journalism and his social media activity as evidence of his alleged membership in the group. One of the books, Babam Sağolsun – Bakanlar ve Oğulları (Thank You Father – The Ministers and Their Sons), is about alleged government corruption; one book claims that the government secretly profiles citizens; and the third is on the 2007 assassination of journalist Hrant Dink.

When the trial started in March 2017, an Istanbul court ordered Kaya and several of the other journalists to be released while the case was heard, according to news reports. Prosecutors successfully appealed the decision, and authorities ordered an investigation into the judges who had ordered the release and they were relieved of duty, according to the reports.

Kaya was being detained in Silivri Prison, Istanbul.

This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.