OdaTV’s editor-in-chief Barış Pehlivan has pressed charges against a prison guard who he said battered him upon his arrival at the Silivri Prison on March 6.
The criminal complaint, which was filed through Pehlivan’s lawyers on March 9, asked the authorities to analyze the security camera footage that recorded the incident and demanded that it be put in the file.
“As our client was waiting for the registry procedure [for entering the prison] to be completed, the suspect approached our client from behind and hit his back twice in a harsh way…Our client does not know the suspect’s name but remembers his face in a very clear way,” read the criminal complaint.
The incident was initially made public by lawyer Hüseyin Ersöz on March 7. “Pehlivan told the lawyers who visited him about the mistreatment. We will file a criminal complaint on the issue,” Ersöz said, adding that the incident took place at the prison’s entrance.
Following Ersöz’s remarks, Bakırköy Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office released a statement denying that the journalist was subjected to mistreatment. “The incident was looked into by Silivri Prison Prosecutor’s Office. Following the examinations and reviews of security footage, it was concluded that Pehlivan was not battered or subjected to mistreatment, whether it be verbal or physical,” the prosecutor’s office said on March 7.
An Istanbul court on March 6 arrested Pehlivan over a report covering the funeral of a member of Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT) killed in Libya.
Pehlivan is accused of disclosing the identity of the intelligence agency official even though the name had been revealed by an opposition lawmaker a week earlier.
Pehlivan is the third journalist to be arrested in the case. On March 5, OdaTV news director Barış Terkoğlu and reporter Hülya Kılınç were arrested on the same charges.
Court arrests another journalist
On March 8, Yeniçağ columnist Murat Ağırel, Yeni Yaşam editor-in-chief Ferhat Çelik and the daily’s news editor Aydın Keser were detained over the same story.
Ağırel was detained on March 6, but was freed a day later on condition of judicial control. Upon the objection of a prosecutor’s office, an arrest warrant was issued for the columnist on March 8.
Keser and Çelik were also called to testify on March 6, but were referred to court with the prosecutor seeking their arrest. They were freed on condition of judicial control, but were detained again on March 8.
All three were arrested later on.
The arrests and detentions were condemned by 40 bar associations in a statement.
“Our Constitution says that the press is free and can’t be censored. Journalism is not a crime,” the statement read.