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Three Turkish journalists arrested due to coverage of Berat Albayrak’s hacked emails

Three of 6 Turkish journalists are arrested after 24 days in custody. 

Due to the news about the Minister of Energy Albayrak’s e-mails, 6 journalists who have been under police custody for 24 days have been transferred to the court with an arrest warrant. Consequently three of them were arrested while some journalist and media establishments protested in front of the courthouse.

Within the scope of the operation against Istanbul-based journalists, the prosecution of 6 journalists detained on 25 December 2016 and has been completed after 24 days. The prosecutor referred the journalists to the 8th Criminal Court of Justice at the request of arrest.

While journalists Mahir Kanaat, Tunca Öğreten and Ömer Çelik are arrested, other three journalists, Derya Okatan, Eray Sargın, Metin Yoksu are released with a court control condition.

The crimes attributed to journalists are as follows: 

Tunca İlker Öğreten: “Membership in the armed terrorist organization” and “Acquiring or spreading personal data against the law”

Ömer Çelik: “Making terrorist propaganda” and “Membership in the armed terrorist organization”

Metin Yoksu: “Making terrorist propaganda”

Mahir Kanaat:  “Membership in the armed terrorist organization”

Eray Sargin: “Making terrorist propaganda”

Derya Okatan: “Making terrorist propaganda”

“I am a member of Freedom and Solidarity Party (ÖDP), and have nothing to do with the Hizmet movement”

In his statement to the judge at the court, the journalist from BirGün, Mahir Kanaat has expressed that “I am a member of Freedom and Solidarity Party. I have no relation with the Hizmet movement. Neither I nor anyone from my family did not have anything to do with the movement. I do not accept none of the allegations made against myself, I am not an administrative official at the newspaper but only a redactor”.

His baby was born while he was in custody

Defendant’s lawyer, Atilla Bahçıvan has stated the following in his defense:

“30-day police custody, confidentiality in the filings and limitation to the lawyer’s access are the results of the laws generated under the state of emergency. The allegations against my client are associated with those of FETO. In order to mitigate any unlawful motion, the prosecutor decided to tangle anyone of the journalists to the FETO/PDY.  As of now, my client is being accused of being a member of the organization which he has so far been against.Reminding that while Mahir Kanaat was at police custody, his baby was born, lawyer added that not being able to see his newborn is itself a torture.

“Allegation of making a terrorist propaganda does not make any sense”

According to a news reported by dihaber, Metin Yoksu, in his statement to the prosecutor, said that “I worked as correspondent at DIHA news agency. With state of emergency laws, DIHA news agency has been shut down and I started working at dihaber internet news portal.” He added that “I am being accused of e-mail and tweets, which are news from “known past”.

No subject/persons are mentioned in those news. It is not true that I have made any terrorist propaganda. Regarding the Minister of Energy Berat Albayrak’s e-mails, the person who hacked the password to his email account form a group over Twitter and reached me with those emails. This hacker included me into this group. I have no acquaintance with Mahir Kanaat whose name appears in that Twitter group.  I have known some of the journalists only through their journalistic work. Other than that, I have no personal ties with none of them”.

“I was included into that group without my knowledge”

Journalist Ömer Çelik in his statement mentioned that “I have been working as director for 7 years at DIHA new agency. When Minister Albayrak’s emails were shared in public domain, I was included into Twitter group due to my work as a journalist. Whoever starts the group can add any name into the group. Whenever there was any news value to any posting, I have followed the group as well. As soon as I noticed that there has been political statements being exchanged within the group, I decided to quit. I don’t recall how long I was in the group. Among the group members, I do know Metin Yoksu personally since he was working for our news agency. I know Mahir Kanaat, Derya Okatan and Tunca Öğreten as journalists, not personally. I have observed the hacked emails of Minister being posted within the group. Within my job capacity and experience, I have regarded them as news, I have followed the links. At the same time I made this news. I just posted information that informed the public and carried news value. I have not shared anything personal and private life. I am aware of that Redhack has hacked these emails. I don’t know anyone from this group. I have followed their Twitter group for news purposes”.

What does “proletarian” mean?

Yoksu’s Twitter profile description of himself as “a proletarian reporter”  was one of the questions that the prosecutor prepared.

The retweets of Ömer Çelik are regarded as criminal elements.

Retweets in Twitter

Managing Director of Etkin New Agency (ETHA), Derya Okatan was asked about the retweets of the hacked emails of Minister Albayrak and why there were reported as news. In her statement, she expressed that she has been working as journalist for 10 years and any retweets and posting done at ETHA’s twitter account are done in the agency’s behalf.  She also mentioned that all these postings and retweets needs to be evaluated within the press laws.

“$1 bill” question

As to the “$1 bill” found in her house, Okatan replied that “the $1 bill does not belong to me. Using this as evidence, it is not possible to come with an allegation of being members of a group”. She expressed that she does not accept any allegations against her.

Journalist from Birgun newspaper, Mahir Kanaat, stating that he does not know anyone from Redhack, said that “all of the postings are still on the public domain”. He demanded to be released.


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