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Journalist appears in court after covering allegations of corruption in judiciary

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An editor for the Gerçek Gündem news website who reported news and shared social media posts about an alleged bribery network in the judiciary appeared before a court on Thursday, which ruled for his release under judicial supervision, the Gerçek Gündem reported on Thursday.

Police officers arriving at his residence in the early hours of Thursday detained Furkan Karabay and took him to the Çağlayan Courthouse in İstanbul.

The journalist was detained due to a criminal complaint filed by Bekir Altun, president of the İstanbul Judicial Commission, whose name was involved in allegations of corruption in the judiciary, on accusations of “libel.”

Karabay was subsequently released under judicial supervision after testifying to a court.

Karabay has been reporting and tweeting about an alleged bribery network in the judiciary that İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor İsmail Uçar exposed in a letter sent to the Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSK) on Oct. 6.

Uçar’s letter detailed allegations of bribery, nepotism and other irregularities within the judicial system. The letter also included accusations against Altun.

On Oct. 17 the HSK tasked three inspectors with investigating the allegations in Uçar’s letter, announced by Justice Minister Yılmaz Tunç.

On Nov. 24 the HSK suspended Sidar Demiroğlu, the presiding judge of the İstanbul 21st High Criminal Court who, according to Uçar’s claims, ruled for unlawful access bans on some online content and helped in the release of people accused of drug trafficking from jail.

On Dec. 1 an access ban was also imposed on a series of 12 tweets by Karabay in which he listed various allegations against Altun and questioned why he was not disbarred or subjected to legal action due to the allegations against him.

Meanwhile, Yunus Emre, a lawmaker from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), said on X, formerly known as Twitter, that it is a journalist’s duty to report on corruption in the judiciary.

“Forcing Furkan Karabay to give a statement under police pressure is intimidation against the press, a blow to democracy!” the MP added.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) Turkey representative Erol Önderoğlu on Thursday told Gerçek Gündem that they consider such “unnecessary” police action as taking Karabay in for questioning to be attempts to intimidate journalists.

“It is not only unnecessary but also disturbing,” Önderoğlu said.

“The judiciary, unable to clean up its internal corruption, is attempting to solve the problem by silencing those who expose this corruption through journalism,” journalist Barış Terkoğlu also tweeted.

Turkey, which is known as one of the top jailers of journalists in the world, ranks 165th among 180 countries in the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) 2023 World Press Freedom Index, which was announced in early May.

Turkey has seen an erosion in the rule of law, especially after a failed coup in July 2016, when more than 4,000 judges and prosecutors were removed under the pretext of an anti-coup fight.

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is accused of replacing the purged judiciary members with young and inexperienced judges and prosecutors who have close links to the AKP.

In a development that confirmed the erosion of the Turkish judiciary, Turkey was ranked 117th among 142 countries in the rule of law index published by the World Justice Project (WJP) in late October, dropping one rank in comparison to last year.

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