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Appellate court reverses judgement regarding journalist Seda Taşkın

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Ankara – Erzurum Regional Court’s 6th Penal Chamber reversed the local court’s judgement regarding Mesopotamia Agency (MA) journalist Seda Taşkın, who was sentenced to 7 and a half years in prison last fall. The appellate court sentenced Taşkın to 1 year 11 months and 11 days in prison for “terrorist propaganda,” deferred the sentence. The court acquitted Taşkın for “aiding and abetting a terrorist organization” charges.

Journalist Seda Taşkın was sentenced to 7 and a half years in prison by the Muş 2nd High Criminal Court in October 2018. Her second appeal hearing was held at Erzurum Regional Court’s 6th Penal Chamber today. Seda Taşkın attended the hearing via video-conference link SEGBİS from a court in Ankara. Although the hearing was scheduled to start at 09:45 AM, it did not start until 12:25 PM due to delays in the Erzurum court.

In her final defense statement, Taşkın noted that she repeats her previous statements and added: “My journalistic activities are the only reason why I am here today. I would like to note that journalism is not a crime.”

Taşkın’s lawyer Ebru Akkal demanded her client’s acquittal on the basis of European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and relevant European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) judgements.

Akkal read a passage from the Constitutional Court’s detailed ruling on school teacher Ayşe Çelik’s case: “Disclosing, spreading, or actively, systematically and convincingly instilling ideas that are relating to the social or political atmosphere and socioeconomic inequalities, ethnic problems, differences in the population, or ideas pertaining to a demand for more freedom, or ideas that are critical of the governing regime, into others and suggesting and inspiring such ideas are protected under the right to freedom of expression even if these ideas are disturbing for state officials or a significant section of the society.”

Akkal requested freedom of expression to be considered in a larger framework by the court, further noting that the aforementioned Constitutional Court decision needs to be applied to this case as well. Akkal noted that the evidence presented against Taşkın cannot be considered as aiding a terrorist organization and demanded her acquittal.  

When asked for her final words, journalist Taşkın said: “Ever since I was taken into custody, I have acted in line with journalism. All my actions were geared towards practicing journalism. I demand my acquittal.”

Following Taşkın’s final words, Head of the 6th Penal Chamber read the final verdict out loud, revealing that they have decided to reverse the local court’s judgement. The court sentenced Seda Taşkın to 1 year 11 months and 11 days in prison for “terrorist propaganda” charges but decided to defer the sentence. The court acquitted Taşkın of “aiding and abetting a terrorist organization” charges.