Former Today’s Zaman Editor-in-Chief Kenes released after brief detention

Kenes announced his detention via the social media website Twitter, saying he had been detained at around 5:45 a.m. at the airport due to a “routine, procedural matter.” Kenes was taken to the İstanbul Police Department after a health check at the Haseki Training and Research Hospital.

On Wednesday, Kenes, along with two Today’s Zaman editors, Sevgi Akarcesme and Celil Sagır, were each given suspended prison sentences of more than a year for allegedly insulting Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in their tweets on Twitter, in a move that only contributed to the sense of deteriorating media freedoms in Turkey.

The Ankara 32nd Criminal Court of First Instance announced the ruling in a case that was filed by Davutoglu’s lawyers against the three journalists who were all included in the same legal complaint, which was apparently filed on Dec. 29, 2014.

The court sentenced Kenes — who last month announced his decision to quit his post in the face of growing government pressure on the media — and Sagır to one year and two months each and Akarcesme to one year and five months in prison. The court suspended the sentences for five years. The sentences will be enacted for the relevant individual should Kenes, Sagır or Akarcesme commit the same crime again within the next five years.

In defiance of Davutoglu, Kenes re-posted the tweets for which he was being sued, and said if Davutoglu does not want to be called a liar, then he should not lie.

In his original tweets, Kenes referenced a media crackdown that targeted respected journalists Ekrem Dumanlı and Hidayet Karaca, among others, on Dec. 14, 2014. His tweet read, “Unless Davutoglu knows that Dumanlı and Karaca went to court on Friday, he is a big liar.” Davutoglu had argued that the two journalists did not go to court to testify, and instead put on a big show when they were detained on Dec. 14. In actuality, Karaca and Dumanlı had gone to court before the detentions took place, on Dec. 12, to enquire whether legal proceedings against them were in the works, only to be turned away. Kenes stated that, as prime minister, Davutoglu should have known about this development. Davutoglu argued that they were not prosecuted due to their journalistic activities.

Kenes resigned from his post last month over the intensified and unlawful government pressure in the form of dozens of legal cases that have targeted him as part of the government crackdown designed to silence critical journalists.

In a separate case, Kenes was arrested in October for his tweets allegedly insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. After his arrest, he served five days in jail until he was released pending trial.