Friday, May 14, 2010

Ergenekon and the Press

In relation to his coverage of the Ergenekon investigation, Radikal journalist Ismail Saymaz faces 54 years in prison. From Bianet:
A total of six trials have been filed against Radikal newspaper reporter İsmail Saymaz on the grounds of his news about the interrogations of İlhan Cihaner, detained Chief Public Prosecutor of Erzincan (north-eastern Anatolia), and İbrahim Şahin, former Deputy Head of the Special Operations Department.

Both Cihaner and Şahin are part of the Eregekon investigation carried out in Erzurum. The clandestine ultra-national Ergenekon organisation, nested within the stated and the military, allegedly planned to create chaos in the country with murders and attacks and to overthrow the government.

The cases were opened on 8, 13, 15, 16 and 21 April at the 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance in Bakırköy, Istanbul. Journalist Saymaz is facing imprisonment of up to 54 years under charges of "attempting to influence a fair trial" and "violating the secrecy of an investigation" according to articles 285 and 288 respectively of the Turkish Criminal Code (TCK).

Saymaz will appear at court on 23 June related to the allegations based on the article entitled "What Prosecutor Cihaner was asked" published in Radikal newspaper on 18 February 2010. On 15 July, he will be at court for his news item "Assassination with a tick, coup of the tea vendors" from 12 February 2010; he is summoned to court for 21 July by reason of his articles "Cihaner: I do not know Çiçek, I did not see him - Ciçek: I do not know anybody in Erzincan" and "I do not know Çiçek, that is your set up" published on 20 February. For his article "Did you meet Dursun Çiçek?" from 22 February Saymaz will have to appear at court on 20 September.

Another reason for the prosecution of Saymaz was the article entitled "The most reckless state of Ergenekon is in Erzincan" related to the defence of former İliç Public Prosecutor Bayram Bozkurt which was sent to the Ministry of Justice. Bozkurt is tried at the Erzincan High Criminal Court under allegations of "misconduct in office".

Prosecutors Remzi Yaşar Kızılhan and Pircan Barut Emre prepared the indictments that make Saymaz a defendant. The journalist told bianet that another trial has been launched against him based on his article entitled "Is Berk the leader of the organization?" published on 1 March.

Saymaz, author of the book "The postmodern Jihad", concerned with the Erzurum-Erzincan connections of the Ergenekon investigation, received a letter from the Ministry of Justice about three weeks ago, in which he was asked to reveal his source.
If the government and the prosecutors involved in the Ergenekon investigation want to allay fears about the Ergenekon investigation and open up the process, going after journalists is certainly not the way to do it. See also the case of Milliyet journalist Nedim Sener, who is also on trial for his coverage of the Hrant Dink investigation.

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