Havva Karakaya, a journalist working at a local Kirsehir Postasi newspaper, has been "banned from performing her journalism duties" for 375 days on charges of a story she wrote about the personnel of the Kirsehir Municipality. This was the first time a court ruled that "a journalist cannot make journalism." Karakaya said she was sentenced for a corruption story she wrote, adding, "Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan had said no journalist who made stories against his party had been punished. I am the first journalist to be punished. I want justice."
Norway Will Not Become Police State After Attacks, Ambassador Says
Norwegian Ambassador to Turkey Cecilie Landsverk said Norway would not be a police state after double attacks staged by extreme racist Anders Breivik. Landsverk said Norway would not show the same reaction the United States showed after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Landsverk said the problem could be solved by maintaining social peace and democracy, not by becoming a police state.
Turkish FM: Norway Attacks Prove Terrorism Should Not be Linked to Religions, Islam
Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Thursday that last week's attacks in Norway showed how wrong it was to associate Islam with terrorism.
Davutoglu paid a visit to the Norwegian embassy in the capital of Ankara to offer his condolences over the deaths of scores in last Friday's double attacks in Norway's capital, Oslo, and the nearby island of Utoya.
After holding talks with Norwegian Ambassador Cecilie Landsverk, Davutoglu signed the book of condolence opened for the victims of the attacks.
"Turkey stands by the peace-loving and friendly Norwegian nation and the Norwegian government and shares their pain," Davutoglu wrote in the book. The "Turkish nation feels deeply sorry over the pain caused by these terrifying terrorist attacks."
Speaking to reporters while leaving the embassy, Davutoglu said a terrorist act, no matter what religious or ethnical background it originated from, should not be associated with any religion or nation.
"Regardless of its motives, any terrorist act is a crime against humanity," he said. "It is now clear what a great mistake it was to associate Islam with terrorism in the past."
Davutoglu also noted that all nations and believers of every faith should fight against terrorism side by side.
At least 76 people died and many others were wounded in last Friday's double attacks in Norway.
Anders Behring Breivik, a 32-year-old far-right extremist, is the main suspect of the car bomb explosion in Oslo and the bloody raid against a political youth camp in Utoya, a holiday island close to the Norwegian capital.
Among the youngsters who lost their lives at the Utoya rampage was a 17-year-old Turkish girl, Gizem Dogan, for whom a funeral service will be held next Monday.
Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu said he was planning to attend Dogan's funeral.
Young Syrians Meet in Turkey to Discuss Regime Change
Nearly 200 youth activists opposes to Syria's regime opened a four-day meeting in Istanbul Wednesday, hoping to improve coordination among the groups working to topple President Bashar al-Assad.
The group, which includes Syrians living in the country, in the United States, Europe and Saudi Arabia, are united in "trying to bring together the new Syria," said Banah Ghadbian, a 17-year-old Syrian-American.
"The objective is basically to get the activists together and put together a strategy for coordination," said Moaaz al-Sibaai, an organizer of the event. The meeting at a hotel in an Istanbul suburb opened with participants singing the Syrian national anthem, followed by a video clip set to rap music that denounced the "lies" spread by the Damascus regime.
Imaddin Rachid, a leader of the Syrian protest movement, urged the young activists "to build a civil society that transcends ideological, religious and ethnic divides."
Anti-regime activists will learn how to use technology to communicate safely and, if necessary, anonymously, particularly with protesters living in Syria, Sibaai said.
Roughly 80 percent of those at the meeting live outside the country.
Instruction on how to accurately document human rights abuses and lobby international rights groups is also on the docket.
Because foreign media have largely been banned from reporting inside Syria, many news organizations have relied on estimates from domestic rights groups to provide tallies of protesters killed, injured or arrested by the regime.
While the activists want to improve tactics to combat a government that has proved willing to brutalize its opponents, Ghadbian said its equally important to be ready for the day the regime falls.
"We are trying to train ourselves and be prepared for what happens after the revolution," Ghadbian, a native of the U.S. state Arkansas, said. "I want to go back, but I don't want to be part of the paranoia and the fear the regime has put its ordinary civilians under. My objective is to go back to a free Syria and live there," he said.
Assad's forces have killed at least 1,486 civilians since the anti-regime uprising began in mid-March, according to rights groups.
Some organizations say at least 12,000 people have been detained, but it is unclear how many are still being held and how many have been released.
Elected Opposition Deputies Appealing to European Court of Human Rights
Two elected deputies from Turkey's main opposition will apply to the European Court of Human Rights, as they have exhausted all legal avenues domestically to secure their release from jail, the party said Thursday.
"We are of the opinion in the name of our jailed deputies that the European Convention on Human Rights, the presumption of innocence, the right to fair judgment and the right to elect and be elected have been violated. We are thus applying to the European Court of Human Rights," Emine Ülker Tarhan, the deputy group leader of the Republican People's Party, or CHP, told a press conference Thursday.
According to Tarhan, the applications to the European court will be made individually by the jailed deputies, Mustafa Balbay and Mehmet Haberal, who were elected to Parliament in the June 12 general election, but were barred from being released by the courts. The CHP will contribute to the process in a legal sense and will closely follow the process, Tarhan said.
"We are working for that [their release]. The CHP is supporting our colleagues. The work is underway for Haberal. The work for Balbay has been completed," she added.
Noting that all domestic legal avenues had been exhausted in the fight to free the jailed deputies, Tarhan said they would try to apply in early August.
Tarhan criticized the way the judicial system works in Turkey, noting that young protesters had been faced with four-year jail sentences and that the judiciary took just four hours to take verbal defense statements at the Habur border gate from 34 returnees from northern Iraq, some of whom belonged to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK.
"While the judicial system decides to continue the detention of our jailed deputies, we see the inquiries into some suspects have still not been carried out after four years," Tarhan said. "The independent judiciary, which investigated the 34 terrorists within four hours, may decide to continue the detention of some suspects whose defense has failed to be taken within four years," she said.
Balbay and Haberal are in prison on charges of being part of the alleged Ergenekon plot to overthrow the government.
17 Arrested Generals Readying for Retirement
Traffic intensified in Ankara prior to the Supreme Military Board (YAS) meeting, which will begin Monday. The government is getting ready to retire 17 generals under arrest who were waiting for promotion.
There are 43 generals and admirals under arrest regarding investigation into the Balyoz Sledgehammer case. Seventeen of them are waiting for promotion.
According to Staff Law of the Turkish Armed Forces, promotion and retirement of the arrested officers are frozen.
'There Won't Be Tension' in YAS Meeting, Erdogan Says
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said: "From now on, bad will would not be responded by goodwill. We are entering a different process, whatever its cost is. Some things have gone beyond Ocalan. I do not think that there will be any tension in the Supreme Military Council (YAS) meeting. The requirements of laws will be done."
Central Bank Gov. Announces Year-End Inflation
Central Bank Governor Erdem Basci announced the year-end inflation expectation for 2011 as 6.9 percent. Basci said they did not foresee sharp down risk in economy.
Recommending to citizens who feel concern over the crisis rumors, Basci said, "unemployment drops."
"We can not say 'don't spend to those who found jobs'. He/she can spend it as they wish," he said.
Iran Cutting Down Camps in Qandil
Iran, after attacking PJAK, the Iranian branch of the PKK, dissolved the camps in Qandil, one by one.
The PKK's Murat Karayilan threatened: "We may give up Turkey and fight against Iran."
Operation of the Iranian army, which continues for two weeks, has put a heavy blow on PJAK. The organization was forced to leave the three camps, which it nested together with PKK. There are only the Koke and Eyse camps left for Iran to control Qandil.
Websites close to the organization claimed operation intelligence came from Turkey.
Albaraka Bank to Make Turkey its Base
Albaraka Director General Fahrettin Yahsi said they would open the branch of the bank in Irbil in August. Yahsi said, "Turkey will be the base of our activities in the Middle East and the Balkans."
YAS to Convene Under Erdogan's Chairmanship
The Supreme Military Council (YAS) will meet under the chairmanship of Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday. The regular August YAS meeting will take place at the General Staff headquarters in Ankara.
Besides Erdogan, Chief of General Staff Gen. Isik Kosaner, National Defense Minister Ismet Yilmaz, Land Forces Commander Gen. Erdal Ceylanoglu, Naval Forces Commander Admiral Esref Ugur Yigit, Air Forces Commander Gen. Hasan Aksay, Gendarme General Commander Gen. Necdet Ozel, Deputy Chief of General Satff Gen. Aslan Guner and other commanders will attend the meeting.
Air War Academies Commander Gen. Bilgin Balanli cannot participate in the meeting as he is under arrest within the scope of the Balyoz Sledgehammer plan investigation.
According to YAS regulations, members who cannot attend the meeting should inform the council about their non-attendance beforehand. They can notify their views in writing on issues the council is expected to discuss.
The council will designate new land forces, naval forces and air forces commanders. Chief of General Staff Gen. Isik Kosaner will continue to be in this position for two more years.
Additionally, the council will appoint new generals and admirals to military posts and discuss undisciplined or unethical behaviors and retirement of officers in its meeting.
YAS meeting will end on August 4. The council's decisions will be made public after being presented to President Abdullah Gul.
German MP Voices Anger at Denied Prison Visit Request
Claudia Roth, co-leader of the German Green Party, criticized the bureaucracy in Turkey after she was unable to visit journalist Ahmet Şık in prison. According to Roth, the denial of her request to visit Şık was not the scandalous part, but rather the "show-off" stance of the Turkish government on the issue; as it is viewed as Turkish democracy being under threat, Roth said. She also said she was upset and surprised at not being allowed to visit arrested journalists despite applications to the necessary official departments.
"We applied to the Turkish Justice Ministry and the Foreign Ministry in order to get permission to visit Ahmet Şık on behalf of 70 arrested journalists. They made us wait, however, for an hour and a half at Silivri Prison where he shared the prison with another arrested journalist, Nedim Şener," Roth said in a press conference in Istanbul Thursday.
During the conference the second Silivri Prison sent a fax to the co-president saying the request for a visit had been approved by the prison. Recalling the end of visiting hours at 5 p.m., Roth noted that she did not understand whether the administration was making fun of them, as it was not possible to arrive at Silivri prison before that time.
Because the permission only included the date of July 28, it was not possible for Roth to visit Şık on another day.
"As much as people need water and bread to survive, democracies need freedom of expression to live," said Roth, adding that neither Şık nor his lawyers were informed on the reason for the accusations.
According to her, the government is attempting to make journalists afraid of the state and to censor themselves.
Regarding the latest decision on the confessed murderer of journalist Hrant Dink, Roth said sentencing Ogün Samast to just under 23 years was not enough.
"We saw the footage of the camera, which displayed the other suspects in Dink's murder. Where are they now? Who is behind this murder?" said Roth, adding that they should be brought to the justice as well.
Stressing that the Green Party has been fighting against nuclear energy for 35 years, Roth said she could not understand how the Turkish government would consider building a reactor after Fukushima, given that it has wind and solar energy.
"The Turkish government is still insisting on constructing nuclear energy power plants such as Akkuyu and Sinop," Roth said, saying she would coordinate with the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party, or BDP, deputy Ertuğrul Kürkçü on the issue.