Case Monitoring

Court adjourns hearing of journalists İdris Sayılğan and Naci Kaya until April

Edirne – Trial where Mezopotamya Agency (MA) reporters İdris Sayılğan and Naci Kaya are accused of “trespassing a military zone” resumed today at Edirne 8th Criminal Court of First Instance.

Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA) represented journalist İdris Sayılğan at the hearing where the court took the witness statement of the law enforcement officer who conducted the detainment procedures. The officer stated that journalists were recording with cameras in their hands where hundreds of refugees were present. The officer also said he did not know how they entered the military zone, as the area was quite large and technically difficult to track.

Defense lawyers stated that one should enter the forbidden zone “secretly and under false pretences” in order for the constitution of the moral element of the crime. They added that their clients Sayılğan and Kaya went to the border during the time when state officials were encouraging press members to cover the developments, and that they were there to do their job. Lawyers presented the news reports penned by their clients regarding the refugees’ journey towards the border and how they were treated when they arrived.

The court ruled to send the case file to the prosecution for the preparation of the final opinion. Hearing was adjourned until April 14.

Case background

Following the death of 33 Turkish Army soldiers on February 27, 2020, Turkey had declared that refugees would be allowed to enter Europe. Following the official statement, thousands of people set out on a journey towards the borders, however they were not allowed to enter European countries. One such border gate is located in Pazarkule, Edirne. Here, refugees were met with the intervention of Greek military forces, and thus forced to return. Many journalists were present on site to cover the events, and were detained on the grounds that they were “trespassing a military zone.” A number of lawsuits were filed against these journalists, most of which resulted in their acquittal.

Among those detained were journalists Sayılğan and Kaya. Sayılğan was detained and arrested on the grounds that he crossed the border despite the “ne exeat regno” order in his name. He was released after one day, as he was there as a journalist to cover the events, and not to cross the border.