Turkey Released Detained American Journalist Dion Nissenbaum
Christof Lehmann (nsnbc) : Turkish authorities released, on Friday, the jailed U.S. American journalist Dion Nissenbaum. The Wall Street Journal journo had been held for nearly three days for allegedly violating a government ban on publication of images from an ISIS video.
Wall Street Journal journo Dion Nissenbaum was reportedly held for nearly three days without permission to contact his family or attorneys. Thee 49-year-old journalist was released and returned with his family to the United States on Friday.
Sources in Turkey who wish to remain anonymous due to the enforcement of strict media censorship and a severe crackdown on media and journalists following the “failed” military mystery coup in the country on July 15, 2016, noted that Nissenbaum was arrested because he released a video showing Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL, Daesh) insurgents burning two Turkish soldiers alive in Syria. Publication of the video had been banned by Turkish authorities.
Gerard Baker, editor in chief of the Wall Street Journal, commented: “While we are relieved that Dion was released unharmed after nearly three days, we remain outraged at his peremptory detention, without any contact with his family, legal counsel or colleagues” .
On new year night a bomb killed several, reportedly more than 30 at a night club in Istanbul. While nsnbc international would have liked to cover the incident that reportedly claimed the lives of 39 people, the government has again enforced a media gag order, so other than “official and officially vetted” information is difficult to acquire. We have thus chosen to report on the incident later, as we can verify information “independently”.
nsnbc does not implicitly endorse the Wall Street Journal or its editorial policy. nsnbc does, however, condemn any crackdown and oppression of journalists. We have chosen to focus on Turkey’s recent media track record instead and we will be covering the deadly events at the night club a.s.a.p.
Scores of journalists were arrested in the wake of the mystery coup in July this year. The coup, largely blamed on ¨the self-exiled cleric Fetullah Gülen and the Gülenist Hizmet and other linked networks resulted in a sweeping purge. Ironically, this purge targeted more sectarian intellectuals and scholars, members of the leftist HDP and journalists, than actual hard-core “Gülenists”.
The networks around Fetullah Gülen have long been known as closely linked to Turkey’s military and intelligence services as well as to NATO intelligence networks. Gülenists were also implicated in planting false evidence in the so-called Ergenekon and Balyoz trials that led to a previous purge, primarily of secular military officers.
In September a Belgian journalist working at the Belgian office of Turkey’s Zaman newspaper said he was approached by an advisor to the Turkish AKP government and pressured to provide a list of subscribers to the opposition-linked newspaper.
The Belgian journalist’s statement with consistent with Turkey’s oppression of media and its at times deadly approach to dealing with journalists. Late July 27 Turkish authorities shut down dozens of media organizations including 16 TV channels, 23 radio stations, 45 newspapers, 15 magazines as well as 29 publishing houses. The complete list was published in the official government gazette.
The three news agencies affected by the latest crackdown are the Cihan News Agency, Muhabir News Agency and Sem News Agency. The crackdown also affects the daily Zaman and its English subsidiary Today’s Zaman, the daily Taraf, the daily Begün, as well as Millet, among many others. Among the 16 TV channels are Kanaltürk and Samanyolu.
Also in September the office of the prosecutor in Istanbul issued 47 arrest warrants for former employees of the Zaman media group. The group was already targeted in March, when the government evicted core staff and appointed a “panel of trustees”. Earlier this week Turkish authorities issued 42 arrest warrants for what they described as “terrorism linked journalists”.
The AKP’s History of Intimidation and Fatal Incidents
In February 2015 a Ulusal Kanal TV reporter “earned her wings” when she was water-cannoned while covering a demonstration. Hüsna Sarı had started working at Ulusal Kanal two months prior to the incident. She commented that she loves her job and intends to continue working.
At the Ankara Assembly in Güvenpark on February 13, 2015, Sari got hit by water-cannons. The hits were so powerful that Sarı flung forward, thus attaining the nickname, “The woman who flew.” Sarı held on to her microphone. “I thought I was going to die,” she admitted. “But today, I am on my feet, and I will show them that I am still on the job” she said.
In a leaked wiretap from 2014, published in nsnbc, between the then Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and the 75-year-old business magnate Erdoğan Demirören, Erdogan showed his willingness to bully media bosses into censoring any news which he does not deem acceptable.
Erdoğan strongly, complained about a news story in Demirören’s daily Milliyet newspaper from 28 February 2013, which revealed details of the negotiation process between PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan and the state.
The terms he used for Namık Durukan, who wrote the piece, and Derya Sazak, the paper’s chief editor at the time, are directly translated to English “honourless”, “wicked”, or “crooked” (ahlaksız, namussuz).
Erdogan’s up close and personal bullying had the media boss break out in tears. Not surprisingly, the leaked video / audio has since been “blocked“, but a transcript still exists. (HERE).
October 2014, two days after the US American journalist of Lebanese origin, Serena Shim, said that Turkish intelligence had accused her of spying, she died in a car crash. Her car collided with another vehicle when she was returning from an in situ report in Suruç, a rural district of Şanlıurfa Province of Turkey.
Serena Shim covered the trafficking weapons to Islamist insurgents in Syria via Turkey. Her death and the accident have never been fully investigated as a possible crime.
In September 2012 Journalist Maya Naser was shot dead by a sniper in Damascus. The timing of the assassination indicates that Maya Naser may have been targeted because he came dangerously close to revealing serious war crimes of the Turkish government.
Maya Naser wrote, ”while I was covering the military operations in Aleppo, we saw the ID documents of 13 Turkish insurgents. When checking their identities we discovered that one of the fighters was the brother of the 2003 HSBC bomber from Istanbul”.” Such information”, Maya Naser wrote, ”led us to believe that the Turkish government is sending those convicted or under suspicion of being Al-Qaeda members to fight as insurgents in Syria”.
In subsequent, personal conversations between Maya Naser and the author of this article, he reiterated that there is further evidence that corroborates the suspicion that the government of Turkey is sending prisoners who have received a death sentence and those who serve life time sentences to Syria as an opportunity to be released from prison and as a chance to clear their record.
International lawyer Christopher Black responded to Maya Naser’s information, stating that if his information was correct, then the Turkish government is committing a war crime under the Rome Statute, which forbids forced service of non-combatants in war.
According to Christopher Black it would be possible to file a complaint with the ICC against Turkey and NATO if corroborating evidence could be produced, stating that if Turkey is involved in these crimes, then its partners are equally guilty. Two days later Maya Naser was shot by a sniper when he and his cameraman rushed to the scene of a double bomb attack in Damascus.
Further inquiries revealed that insurgents supported by Turkish special forces and intelligence were monitoring Maya Nasr’s Twitter feeds prior to the assassination. Further investigations by nsnbc international also revealed that the sniper team that assassinated Nasr was on location about two hours before the bomb blast that prompted Maya Nasr and his colleague Hossein Mortada to come to the scene of the bombing.
Disturbingly, the AKP government is now pushing for constitutional change, the introduction of an executive presidential system and the reintroduction of the death penalty while Erdogan stressed that there is no distinction between terrorists who use firearms and terrorists who use their pen. The developments in Turkey bring to mind the words of the renown author Albert Camus who wrote “A free press can, of course, be good or bad, but, most certainly, without freedom, the press will never be anything but bad”.
CH/L – nsnbc 01.01.2017