Update #2 to RAN 22/16
16 May 2016 – PEN International is deeply concerned about the arrest of Cumhuriyet daily web editor Oğuz Güven, bringing the number of Cumhuriyet staff currently jailed pending trial to 13. Güven was arrested on 12 May 2017 and charged under Article 220/6 of the Penal Code “committing a crime in the name of a terrorist organisation” after publishing an online report on the death of a public prosecutor. He faces up to 7.5 years in prison if convicted.
The trial hearing of Güven’s 13 Cumhuriyet colleagues has been scheduled for 24 July 2017. The detained staff are currently being held with terror charges on pre-trial detention in Silivri F Type Prison in İstanbul, where they are not allowed to receive books or send letters. For more information about the crackdown on Cumhuriyet please refer to our latest call to action.
PEN International calls on the Turkish authorities to urgently and unconditionally release Oğuz Güven and the other detained Cumhuriyet staff as they are being held solely in connection with their peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression.
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Send appeals to the Turkish authorities:
- Calling for the immediate and unconditional release of all Cumhuriyet staff as they are being held solely in connection with their peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression;
- Urging them to end the prosecutions and detention of journalists simply on the basis of the content of their journalism or alleged affiliations;
- Calling on them to end the far-reaching crackdown on freedom of expression that has consistently escalated since the failed coup of July 2016;
Please send appeals reiterating PEN’s calls (listed above) to:
Minister of Justice
Ministry of Justice
Milli Müdafa Caddesi, 06659 Kızılay-Ankara, Republic of Turkey
Tel: (+90 312) 417 77 70
Fax: (+90 312) 419 3370
Minister of Interior Affairs
Ministry of Interior Affairs
T.C. İçişleri Bakanlığı, Bakanlıklar / Ankara, Republic of Turkey
Tel: (+90 312) 422 40 00
Çankaya Mah. Ziaur Rahman Cad. Çankaya / Ankara
Tel: (+90 312) 403 50 00
Fax: (+90 312) 422 10 00
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
Tel : (+90 312) 525 55 55
Fax : (+90 312) 525 58 31
Please copy your appeals to the Embassy of Turkey in your country. A list of embassies can be found here.
***Please send appeals immediately. Please send us copies of any appeals you send and of any responses you receive***
Send a message of support:
Please consider sending letters or postcards in a show of support and solidarity to Cumhuriyet daily addressed to all or any of the detained journalists, who are being kept in Silivri F Type Prison and are not being allowed letters or postcards:
Prof. Nurettin Mazhar Öktel Sok. No: 2
34381 Şişli / İstanbul
Tel: (+90 212) 343 72 74
Fax: (+90 212) 343 72 64
The state-owned news agency Anadolu Ajansı reported on 15 May that Güven was being charged with “aiding an illegal organisation” in relation to an online news headline on Cumhuriyet’s webpage about the death of prosecutor Mustafa Alper. Alper died on 10 May 2017 after a truck collided with his vehicle in Denizli, southwest Turkey. The headline, which Güven had not written, read “The prosecutor who prepared the first FETÖ (Fethullah Gülen Terrorist Organisation) indictment was mowed down by a truck”. Güven, who noticed after it drew criticism from readers on social media, removed it after 55 seconds. During his defense Güven explained that the expression “mowed down” is commonly used in news stories about car accidents and that he personally removed it in under a minute of it being posted, adding that the prosecutor should not be dictating editorial wording. In the charges against Güven shared by his lawyer, the prosecutor took note of the common usage of the term before arguring, however, that it could be interpreted by the public as a warning as to what could happen to prosecutors working on FETÖ cases in the future.
The arrest of Oğuz Güven is the latest in a string of attacks against Cumhuriyet. PEN International fears that the case is linked to the ongoing crackdown against the paper, known for its opposition stance.
Turkish police arrested 14 employees of Cumhuriyet on 31 October 2016. Four were released for health reasons on 4 November. The remaining nine were formally charged before the paper’s chief executive, Akın Atalay, was arrested upon his return to Istanbul on 12 November and reporter Ahmet Şık and accountant Emre İper were detained and charged on 31 December and 6 April 2017 respectively. Güven’s arrest brings the total number of Cumhuriyet staff behind bars to thirteen. These include: Murat Sabuncu (Cumhuriyet Editor-in-Chief); Güray Öz (Cumhuriyet board executive, ombudsman and columnist); Hakan Kara, Musa Kart, Bülent Utku, Mustafa Kemal Güngör and Önder Çelik (board members of the Cumhuriyet Foundation); Turhan Günay (Editor-in-Chief of the newspaper’s book supplement); Akın Atalay (Executive President of the Cumhuriyet Foundation) Ahmet Şık (investigative reporter) Emre İper (accountant) columnist Kadri Gürsel, who is also board member of the International Press Institute and Oğuz Güven (Web editor). According to media reports, prosecutors also issued detention warrants for the newspaper’s previous editor-in-chief Can Dündar, who is currently out of the country following an armed assault outside an Istanbul courthouse.
A journalist for more than 20 years, Oğuz Güven started his career at Günaydın daily, transferring to Kanal D to lead its communications division and later to CNN Türk as programme editor. He worked as broadcast coordinator at Kanal 6 ve Star Tv and is a founding member of the editorial departments of the Radikal and Yeni Yüzyıl dailies. He became web editor of Hürriyet daily before joining Cumhuriyet in August 2013. He is the author of Zordur Zorda Gülmek (It’s hard to laugh in hardship) a book published by Griffin books in 2014.
According to PEN International’s records, 163 journalists and media workers are currently behind bars, whilst 173 media outlets have been shut down since the crackdown on free expression widened following a failed coup attempt on 15 July 2017. Since then, the Turkish authorities have pursued an unprecedented crackdown against perceived critics and opponents. Counter-terrorism legislation and the prolonged state of emergency are being used to severely restrict fundamental rights and freedoms, stifle criticism and limit the diversity of views and opinions available in the public sphere.
For further information please contact Aurelia Dondo at PEN International, Koops Mill Mews, 162-164 Abbey Street, London SE1 2AN, Tel.+ 44 (0) 20 7405 0338, Fax: +44 (0) 20 7405 0339, email: Aurelia.Dondo@pen-international.org