Judicial harassment of newspaper publisher makes journalism impossible in provincial region

first_img Follow the news on Turkey March 16, 2010 – Updated on January 20, 2016 Judicial harassment of newspaper publisher makes journalism impossible in provincial region News April 2, 2021 Find out more News TurkeyEurope – Central Asia Reporters Without Borders is outraged by the latest sentence to be passed on Haci Bogatekin, an independent journalist based in Gerger, in the southeastern province of Adiyaman. The owner and publisher of the Gerger Firat biweekly and editor of the Gergerfirat.net website, Bogatekin was sentenced by a provincial court on 2 March to five years, one month and seven days in prison.“This is just the latest stage in the judicial system’s harassment of Bogatekin,” Reporters Without Borders said. It is the fourth time he has been convicted by an Adiyaman court and he is still being prosecuted by the local authorities in other cases. The sentences he has received now total 10 years, eight months and 14 days in jail.The disproportionate sentences permitted by the Turkish criminal code for “insult,” obstructing justice and “offending the authorities” is a constant source of problems. Bogatekin’s case is indicative of the degree to which, in the hands of prosecutors often acting as judge and plaintiff at the same time, they pose a major obstacle to freedom of expression.Bogatekin is critical both of the army and judicial system (guardians of the secularism bequeathed by the Turkish republic’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk) on the one hand, and the religious conservatism of the ruling AKP party on the other. As a result, he has been caught in the crossfire of political and social tensions in Turkey.In an article entitled “Feto and Apo” that was published on 4 January 2008, Bogatekin suggested that the war against the armed Kurdish separatists of the PKK, led by Abdullah “Apo” Öcalan, was diverting attention from another threat, the growing influence of religious communities such as the one led by Fethullah “Feto” Gülen.As result of the article, Bogatekin was summoned by Gerger state prosecutor Sadullah Ovacikli for allegedly praising an outlawed organisation, the PKK. But when he appeared before the prosecutor, Ovacikli told him: “You can say what you want about this terrorist (Apo). But how dare you use the name ‘Feto’ to refer to our master Fethullah Gülen, someone who is loved by millions of people? Either you apologise in your next issue or thing will go badly for you.”When Bogatekin quoted Ovacikli’s comments in his newspaper and referred to him as a Gülen sympathiser, he was charged with insulting the prosecutor under article 125 of the criminal code and trying to influence the course of justice under article 288. It was on these charges that Bogatekin was convicted on 2 March.The winner of the 2008 Press Freedom Prize awarded by the Association of Turkish Journalists (TGC) and a prize awarded last year by the Contemporary Association of Journalists (ÇGD), Bogatekin has become a symbol of the Turkish judicial system’s dysfunction. Still free pending the outcome of his appeal, he said: “The conditions for practising journalism in Gerger have disappeared.”The six-month jail sentence imposed under article 288 on Cumali Badur, the editor of the Gergerim.com website, for relaying what Bogatekin had reported about Ovacikli, was finally commuted to a fine of 1,500 euros. But the same court sentenced Bogatekin’s son, Özgür Bogatekin, to one year, two months and 17 days in prison on 2 March for intervening in a case of police violence he witnessed.Read the previous releases on this subject:Read the Reporters Without Borders report on Haci Bogatekin’s detention (June2008) RSF_en to go further Help by sharing this information Newscenter_img April 28, 2021 Find out more News TurkeyEurope – Central Asia Organisation Journalists threatened with imprisonment under Turkey’s terrorism law April 2, 2021 Find out more Receive email alerts Turkey’s never-ending judicial persecution of former newspaper editor Human rights groups warns European leaders before Turkey summitlast_img

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