‘According to Google Maps’: The indictment against journalist Sezgin Kartal has been prepared

‘According to Google Maps’: The indictment against journalist Sezgin Kartal has been prepared
The indictment against journalist Sezgin Kartal who was arrested on January 13th over the suspicion of “membership in a terrorist organization” has been prepared. The prosecutor, who emphasized that he checked Google Maps, argued that Kartal took part in the actions of the armed terrorist organization and presented the distance between Kobanê and Suruç as evidence for his arguments. The indictment against KarşıMahalle reporter Sezgin Kartal has been prepared. The indictment which was filed on 24 January 2023 has been served to the Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA) lawyers today. The prosecutor has charged Kartal with “membership in a terrorist organization.”

‘Hair, forehead, nose and cheek structure show similarity…’

In two pages of the four-page indictment, the prosecutor talks about the history of PKK/KCK/YPG and presents a photograph dated 26 September 2014 which was found during a home search conducted on 16 September 2020 in connection with a criminal investigation led by the Adana Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, as evidence. Referring to a forensic report prepared by the Ankara District Criminal Police Lab on 10 November 2021, the prosecutor claims that “the hair, forehead, nose and cheek structure” of the person in the photo show similarity with journalist Kartal. The prosecutor also states that “a more detailed report” by the İstanbul Gendarmerie Criminal Laboratory is still expected. 

‘According to our research on Google, it is determined that the distance is 10 kilometers…’

The prosecutor presents previous lawsuits and investigations, an ongoing case and photographs found in digital material confiscated during the search of Kartal’s home as evidence for the journalist’s “connection with the terrorist organization.” The prosecutor who summarizes Kartal’s defense in six lines, states that Kartal left Istanbul two days before the photo was taken and the signal from the journalist’s phone was picked in Şanlıurfa’s Suruç district on September 26th. The prosecutor states that cell towers stopped picking up signals from Kartal’s phone between 08.19 PM and 11.06 PM on 26 September 2014 and points out that this shows that Kartal turned off his phone during that time. The prosecutor argued: “It’s been determined via Google research that the distance between Ayn el- Arab [Kobanê] and Suruç where the photo was taken is 10 KM, thus there arises a strong suspicion that the suspect left the country illegally via Şanlıurfa’s Suruç district to meet with the members of PKK/KCK/YPG terrorist organization and to take part in their armed activities…” Despite the fact that he speculates on the location of the photo, the prosecutor fails to specify that the photograph which also served as the basis for Kartal’s arrest was taken during day time. 

The first hearing is on April 4th

The prosecutor requests imprisonment for Kartal who he claims to have “penned articles in an effort to portray the actions and the ideology of the armed terrorist organization in a favorable light under the guise of journalism.” The Istanbul 22nd High Criminal Court which accepted the indictment will begin to hear the case on 4 April 2023 at 14.00.

‘It is ill-intentioned to present mere resemblance as ground for such allegations’

 Commenting on the indictment, MLSA's Co-Director lawyer Veysel Ok emphasized that the prosecution’s arguments have no legal basis. Ok stated: “The only ‘ground’ on which the prosecutor’s allegations stand is signals from Sezgin’s phone. However, it must be stressed that no prosecutor can question the whereabouts, how, when and why of journalists’ movements while carrying out their work. Furthermore, this cannot be the ground for the allegation of ‘membership in a terrorist organization.’ It is ill-intentioned to present mere resemblance as ground for such allegations especially in the absence of a criminal report. We already took Sezgin’s pre-trial detention to the Constitutional Court on the grounds that it constitutes a violation of his rights. However, seeing the indictment, Sezgin must be released immediately. In the worst case, Sezgin must be released at the first hearing. At the first hearing, we will show how this indictment has no legal basis. *This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. The work may be used and redistributed for non-commercial purposes with proper attribution to the Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA).

Medya ve Hukuk Çalışmaları Derneği (MLSA) haber alma hakkı, ifade özgürlüğü ve basın özgürlüğü alanlarında faaliyet yürüten bir sivil toplum kuruluşudur. Derneğimiz başta gazeteciler olmak üzere mesleki faaliyetleri sebebiyle yargılanan kişilere hukuki destek vermektedir.