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Former Turkish DMOZ Editor Draws 10 Months In Jail 666

Posted by timothy
from the freedom-of-whatnow? dept.
makne writes "H. Ertas, a Turkish editor of the Open Directory Project (www.dmoz.org) has been sentenced to 10 months in prison after being found guilty of editing a category about the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK). Ertas's lawyer, Suna Coskun, explained that his client had worked as a voluntary editor at the Open Directory Project during his studies at the Euphrat-University and had been responsible for the Kurdish category. At the same time he became interested in Kurds and undertook his own research into the subject. As a voluntary editor, he had sorted the directory submissions but could not be responsible for their content. Therefore there could be no penalty under international law, according to Coskun. His activities could in no way be understood as 'support for a terrorist organisation' and thus Ertas' release was appropriate. The court sentenced Ertas to 10 months in prison and a fine of 416 million Turkish lire ($293). The sentence is not eligible for probation." (Read on for more.)
By email, makne writes "I don't know the editor personally, but the editor was first arrested two years ago, then released on parole until now. Members of the editor community have tried to help him in any way they can, with no apparent success. The editor resigned from the ODP in 2002."

Makne also provided this link to a summary (from the Kurdish point of view) of earlier attempts to stifle Kurdish sites, including a campaign to have DMOZ's then-parent company Netscape remove the Kurdish category from DMOZ.

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Former Turkish DMOZ Editor Draws 10 Months In Jail

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  • by fembots (753724) on Sunday November 28, 2004 @02:22AM (#10935813) Homepage
    Where's the news? I see four links in the summary and none of them points to the news about the sentence.
  • Guys please! (Score:2, Informative)

    by unixmaster (573907) on Sunday November 28, 2004 @02:23AM (#10935817) Homepage Journal
    As a Turkish guy I can tell you PKK is a terrorist organisation now known as Kadek.
    Guilty of killing about ~30k people including children and women.
    Please see http://www.teror.gen.tr/english/organisations/pkk. html [teror.gen.tr] for more info.
    Also note that USA acknowledged recently PKK/Kadek being a terrorist organization.
  • Re:Guys please! (Score:3, Informative)

    by unixmaster (573907) on Sunday November 28, 2004 @02:46AM (#10935909) Homepage Journal
    Stop trolling and read http://www.amnesty.org/ailib/intcam/turkey/turk3.h tm [amnesty.org]
  • by jginspace (678908) <[moc.oohay] [ta] [ecapsnigj]> on Sunday November 28, 2004 @02:57AM (#10935953) Homepage Journal
    Article in Turkish is here:
    http://www.mhanews.com/modules.php?name=News&file= article&sid=9485 [mhanews.com]

    Translation:

    DMOZ-Editor sentenced to imprisonment for KADEK propaganda

    Ankara - Construction engineer H. Ertas has been sentenced to 10 months in prison and fined after being found guilty of "Propaganda for KADEK".

    Ertas' lawyer, Suna Coskun, explained that his client had worked as a voluntary editor at the Open Directory Project (www.dmoz.org) during his studies at the Euphrat-University and had been responsible for the Kurdish category. At the same time he became interested in Kurds and undertook his own research into the subject.

    As a voluntary editor he had sorted the directory submissions but could not be responsible for their content. Therefore there could be no penalty under international law, according to Coskun. His activities could in no way be understood as "support for a terrorist organisation" and thus Ertas' release was appropriate.

    The court sentenced Ertas to 10 months in prison and a fine of 416 million Turkish lire ($293). The sentence is not eligible for probation.

    Mesopotamia News Agency

  • Re:Turkey in the EU (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 28, 2004 @03:00AM (#10935962)
    One of the conditions however is they clean up their disgusting human rights attitude.
  • by ivi (126837) on Sunday November 28, 2004 @03:12AM (#10936001)

    The European Community could well put
    some pressure on the country or maybe
    bounce Yurkey out of the EC.

    How soon a wrongly sentenced person
    might be released from prison is,
    of course, another matter.
  • Re:New plan. (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 28, 2004 @03:29AM (#10936064)
    Actually Turkey is adopting the new Turkish Lira, in effect from Jan 1 2005, with 1 YTL = 1,000,000 TL.
  • by killjoe (766577) on Sunday November 28, 2004 @03:36AM (#10936083)
    Apparently he was charged with publishing terrorist propaganda and found guilty. Similar things have happened in the US and elsewhere. People have been charged with supporting terrorists and inciting violence. For example right to life people have been charged with putting together web sites to incite people to kill doctors. In US controlled iraq sunni clerics have been arrested for publicly denoucing the occupation, urging resistance and recently for opposing the election process.

    The only thing that seems different is that the guy may not have actually posted the articles but instead compiled them in one place. I could certainly see how somebody could be charged with similar crimes in the US for the same act.

    We have had many people arrested, charged and found guilty of posting information on the internet both here and in the rest of the "first world". Here are some links

    http://www.raisethefist.com/news.cgi?artical=wir e/ -----74814smallsherm.gifIMG.article
    http://www.zo ne-h.org/en/news/read/id=785/
    http://www.nukefree zone.net/archives/000354.html
    http://cnnstudentne ws.cnn.com/2001/fyi/news/02/12/ chinese.webmaster/
    http://www.freemanz.com/politi cal/

    Arresting reporters, webmasters and other disseminators of information is very common in the US, europe, china and elsewhere. I guess I don't see why this is that special.
  • Re:Politics (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 28, 2004 @03:40AM (#10936097)
    No they have not. And they fight against efforts to recognise the genocide (not only in Turkey, but in other countries as well.)

    Further, it's to this day illegal to have an Armenian last name in Turkey.

  • Re:Politics (Score:3, Informative)

    by RWerp (798951) on Sunday November 28, 2004 @03:47AM (#10936113)
    No, it didn't and reacts angrily when there is any commemorance of the fact. Some time ago in a beautiful Polish city of Kraków members of Armenian minority wanted to organize a 'remembrence day' for the massacre. The Turkish embassy protested strongly enough to make it troublesome for the Armenians to make a public ceremony.
  • Re:Protest (Score:5, Informative)

    by moonbender (547943) <moonbender@@@gmail...com> on Sunday November 28, 2004 @04:00AM (#10936147)
    That's what I thought, but keep in mind that in another EU country you can get arrested for publicly supporting certain political parties. Namely, in Germany it's against the law to be part of certain neo-nazi ideologies and holocaust denial.
    And in fact, I'm not sure I'm opposed to that eevn though it's certainly a limitation of my right of free speech. But then, what gives me the right to tell the Turkish government which ideologies are "dangerous". I guess that's why this kind of legislation is never a good idea in the first place.

    OTOH, of course the situation is not the same. It's not illegal to report about illegal ideologies in Germany, even if you did so in a rather positive way, I guess. There certainly are Wikipedia entries about them.
  • by Looke (260398) on Sunday November 28, 2004 @05:02AM (#10936271)
    It's not the "EU" court of human rights, it's "European". Big difference.
  • by infolib (618234) on Sunday November 28, 2004 @05:16AM (#10936304)
    Right now Turkey is extremely sensitive to criticism about human rights violations since they are applying for EU membership. This is quite controversial, so it's easy to find politicians who could have an interest in bringing this case to the forefront. Try to find the representatives involved in foreign affairs.

    Disclaimer: I'm a supporter of Turkey's EU membership, but I'm an even greater supporter of free speech.
  • EU (Score:4, Informative)

    by jrockway (229604) * <jon-nospam@jrock.us> on Sunday November 28, 2004 @05:22AM (#10936316) Homepage Journal
    This is why the EU won't let Turkey join. If you want to be taken seriously in the international community, you can't do things like this.

    We complain about our loss of freedom in the US, but I don't think something like this would happen here. We are slightly freer than Europe and Turkey.
  • Re:Protest (Score:4, Informative)

    by jayminer (692836) on Sunday November 28, 2004 @06:10AM (#10936418) Homepage
    This story is bullshit. The story takes reference of the news article in: http://www.mhanews.com/modules.php?name=News&file= article&sid=9485 [mhanews.com]

    BUT... Let's take a look at the real news article in NTV MSNBC, who takes the story from AA. Anadolu Ajansi (Anatolian Agency, the official (read STATE) news agency of Turkey. The STATE news agency of the Republic of Turkey publishes this kind of story. So the state kills Kurds? Yeah right..

    http://www.ntvmsnbc.com/news/297724.asp?cp1=1 [ntvmsnbc.com]

    The first (Kurdish site which claims that it has published the information) has sentences removed from the original article! Take a look at those.

    1. The Kurdish site makes him to be seen as a Kurdish hero, but in the original article, H. Ertas claims that he does not have any kind of sympaty to the terrorist group. A hero that denies the link would of course won't be a good story.

    2. In his computer, e-mails of himself that contains propaganda of Kurdish terrorist and separatory acts has been found.

    3. His lawyer says that they'll go to appeal. Go on, it's open. The Kurdish site seems that he has been sentected without judgement.

    4. The Kurdish site is in Turkish, their TV is in Turkish, their newspaper published in several European Countries is in Turkish. Blah.

    Believe me, he wouldn't be sentenced for nothing. It's not illegal in Turkey to talk Kurdish, to be Kurdish (several ministers, even several of the most beloved prime ministers were Kurdish). It's just illegal to:

    1. Kill people in terrorist acts.
    2. Claim ownership in a territory of the country, which is known and acknowledged by the world.

    I'm sure that these are all illegal in other countries also.

    If you live in Europe, especially in northern Europe, you would not understand such dynamics and therefore you may see PKK/KADEK as a nice group claiming their rights. But maybe citizens of southern Europe countries, who know at least a little of terrorism, may see the acts of Turkey is to protect its people and its own land.
  • Sorry guys (Score:4, Informative)

    by Ilgaz (86384) on Sunday November 28, 2004 @06:18AM (#10936428) Homepage
    As a turkish citizen, even posting with my real name for years..

    I'd love to participate in this discussion, ask about how come turkish media is cencored etc or replying to each clueless european which hates Turkey for some funny reason and jumping to this discussion about how disgusting thing Turkey did to poor(!) category editor etc.

    The problem is... I don't want to. I don't care. I stopped doing such stuff years ago.

    As an unimportmant note, can I BEG you people not to compare Mandela to PKK/KADEK? I don't remember Mandela ordered black people to burn schools, kill teachers, kill all village only because they participated in election...

    I mean, for my stomach's sake, don't make me disgusted.

  • Re:Protest (Score:2, Informative)

    by jayminer (692836) on Sunday November 28, 2004 @06:50AM (#10936493) Homepage
    Yes, I also don't think that membership of Turkey to the EU is appropriate. I also have the same thought for other countries that are going to be a member.

    For Cyprus, please read my post at (and appropriate links there): http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=130990&cid=109 36357 [slashdot.org]

    The Turkey's operation was legal (as a guarantor country), even though the current Turkish state on the north is not. The current state of the world-wide known Republic of Cyprus is also illegal, as it is not approved by all the three guarantor countries (which are Turkey, Greece and the UK).

    For the human rights ussue, yes we don't provide rights for people who like to divide our country (I don't know if any other country provides this or not), but there are no problems other than that.

    Talk to a friend of yours who has visited Turkey. Every single foreign person who has visited Turkey I have ever talked says that our country is not what it is know to be.

    I don't believe that we have any other issue than economy.
  • by Jodrell (191685) on Sunday November 28, 2004 @07:10AM (#10936531) Homepage
    Please remember that the IRA that fought in the War of Independence is not the same organisation as the Provisional IRA that has conducted a terrorist campaign in Northern Ireland in recent years. So it's unfair to say that "the British government would have us think that your grandfather was a terrorist". Most people in the UK are fully aware of the appalling acts committed in our name in Ireland, and few (apart from a few rabid Unionists) would say that the Republican movement of the time didn't have a legitimate cause. The provos are an entirely different matter, and one shouldn't be confused with the other.

    As for the "one man's terrorist is another's freedom fighter, others have done a better job than I could of that [everything2.com].
  • Re:Politics (Score:3, Informative)

    by M1FCJ (586251) on Sunday November 28, 2004 @07:18AM (#10936550) Homepage
    First of all, USA and Turkey no longer have the good old relationship they used to have. That ended when Turkish parliament, much to everyone's suprise, refused to let American soldiers into Turkey to attack Iraq. America had to find other bases, much to their pain.
    Secondly, America doesn't army PKK, they arm two Kurdish factions which divvied the Northern Iraq between themselves (and to be fair, in civil var since 1960s. Reading the history of Barzani and Talibani families is much fun, how they betrayed Kurds to Iraqi and Turkish authorities, in turn is quite fascinating).

    PKK (also known as KADEK) is hated by both factions and is regarded as a terrorist organisation by all sides. Their bases in Iraq were shelled by American Army last year.

    PKK's former leader, Ocalan, was captured by Turks (or handed to them, depending on which conspiracy theory you subscribe to) also was quite a shame to Kurds, after grovelling to Turkish "Ideals" when he was on trial.

  • by dapyx (665882) on Sunday November 28, 2004 @07:42AM (#10936598) Homepage
    The average pay is probably around $2/hour, in Istanbul. Most likely, the rest of country, which is underdeveloped, has much lower wages.
  • Re:Protest (Score:5, Informative)

    by artson (728234) on Sunday November 28, 2004 @07:51AM (#10936632) Homepage Journal
    "I believe that organizations like DMOZ should have the ability to quickly react, perhaps in protest, to situations like this one."

    They do have the ability and they did react quickly, however to no avail apparently. There was great discussion inside DMOZ about this situation and editors made many suggestions, but in the end it comes down to this: the Open Directory Project's aim is to disseminate information, not to use that information for specific purposes. Initially IIRC, the category was sequestered while possible options were examined, but in the end, to paraphrase some slash-dotter, information wants to be free.

    The Turkish government may be malign, but they aren't stupid and they understood that Ertas' collection of data did have an effect. In some ways, editors function like good journalists; they don't create news, but they find it and highlight it in categories which they create and place in the larger structure of the Directory. This makes the data accessible to more people who don't have to search the whole 'net for it. Creating a category makes a statement if you think about it. It says that the information in this category is worthy of consideration because somebody has organized the data in a way which emphasizes its significance in ways which the viewer may not have imagined were it not for the efforts of the editor.

    Editors are encouraged in their efforts to make novel and interesting collections of web sites and to lodge them within the greater structure of the Directory. It's one of the things that makes the Open Directory Project great and hugely useful.

    For more information on this subject, go to the Open Directory [dmoz.org] and type kurds into the search box. Failing that, here are some relevant DMOZ categories: Ethnicity Kurdish [dmoz.org], History, Kurdistan [dmoz.org] or Kurdish Human Rights [dmoz.org]. See also this category Descriptiont [dmoz.org]

  • by Erdal Ronahi (835206) on Sunday November 28, 2004 @01:08PM (#10937833)
    Hi. I am the guy who did the first translation and posted it to the DMOZ-Forum. There are lots of reports in the Turkish press about the case.

    The guy did NOT write about the PKK, not even give a link to PKK related issues. The sites he listed were entirely about Kurdish culture and language. The category he edited is the Turkish equvalent of Turkey/Ethnical Groups/Kurds

    There is an ongoing campaign to close down the whole World/Kurdish branch of the Open Directory Project. See details here: http://www.kurdmedia.com/news.asp?id=3341 [kurdmedia.com] (note: I personally don't agree with the term "fascist")

    The campaign itself is here: http://www.kampanyaturk.gen.tr/kampanya.php?id=25 [kampanyaturk.gen.tr]

    This is not about terrorism, it is entirely about free spreech.

    Erdal Ronahi

  • Re:Protest (Score:3, Informative)

    by dunkelfalke (91624) on Sunday November 28, 2004 @03:32PM (#10938534)
    it is forbidden to use some symbols in a non-historical context.

    history books or films are perfectly ok
  • Sherman Austin (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 28, 2004 @04:14PM (#10938710)
    Sherman Austin was arrested, confessed to, and convicted of 18 U.S.C. 842(p), a 1997 "anti-terrorism" law authored by California Senator Dianne Feinstein. This federal law mandates up to 20 years in prison for anyone convicted of "distribut[ing] bombmaking information with the knowledge or intent that the information will be used to commit a violent federal crime" [emphasis added] (from http://rwor.org/a/1217/austin.htm )

    The information ITSELF is completely LEGAL and can be found at http://www-2.cs.cmu.edu/~dst/raisethefist/

    An example of one page of the material is at
    http://forbiddenspeech.org/ReclaimGuide/moloto v.sh tml

    and contains (among other things) the sentence "The most high explosive and lethal mixture is amonium-nitrate-based fertilizer mixed with gasoline. Just stuff the bottle with this mixture and light the fucker. This method should be made with a plastic bottle so that it will not break on impact. When you light it, the bottle will quickly explode so be quick. Using a fuse is a good idea. " which is typical of the whole.

    I believe in free speech. I just now exercized my free speech. But I'm posting on Slashdot, not a site whose PURPOSE IS THE VIOLENT OTHERTHROW OF THE GOVERNMENT.

    Maybe we're all better off that the Austin spent a year in jail (he's out now).

    You can access copies of Austin's site's main page as it existed in the past at http://web.archive.org/web/*/http://RaisetheFist.c om

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