Case Monitoring

Court acquits journalist Ayser Çınar of ‘propaganda’ at first hearing

Ankara – Hearing of journalist Ayser Çınar, where she faces “making terrorist propaganda” charges based on her two tweets about the military operation conducted in North Syria’s Afrin by the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK), was held today at Ankara 22nd High Criminal Court. Çınar, whom Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA) defends, personally attended the hearing which was technically the second hearing, but actually the first time she appeared before court, since the first hearing was postponed due to COVID-19 measures.

‘My posts consisted of news stories’

Çınar, stated that the social media posts in question consisted solely of news stories, of which she later presented the detailed content to the court. She added, “These tweets are the newsflashes we use for the news stories. I shared the news stories of the media outlet that I worked for. I made no comments, which indicates that these posts do not constitute any crime. I request my acquittal”.

Following Çınar’s defense statement, lawyer Zelal Pelin Doğan reminded the court of the Constitutional Court decision regarding journalists Can Dündar and Erdem Gül, and remarked that her client’s posts fall under the scope of freedom of expression and press.

Doğan noted that a conviction in this case would amount to an explicit violation of freedom of expression and requested the acquittal of her client.

‘Indictment is insubstantial’

Lawyer Erselan Aktan noted that the proceedings were the result of the government’s conduct and said, “Things which did not constitute a crime in the past, come to be considered as elements of crime today. This is the result of government policy, thus does not concern the judiciary. The scope of the judiciary is strictly determined by laws. My client’s social media posts are within the scope of her professional activities and consist of the news stories published by many news outlets. Thus, we consider the indictment to be insubstantial”.

Following the defense statements, the prosecutor presented their final opinion as to the accusations and requested the acquittal of journalist Çınar because “the elements of the crime were not constituted”. Accordingly, the panel of judges ruled for the acquittal of journalist Çınar.