Case Monitoring

Court adjourns hearing of journalists who reported on torture in Van

Van – The trial where five journalists, three of whom Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA) defends, are charged with “membership in a terrorist organization” due to the reporting on two citizens being tortured by security officials resumed today; the court lifted all judicial measures imposed upon the journalists and adjourned the hearing until January 6, 2022.

Third hearing of the trial against Mesopotamia Agency (MA) reporters Adnan Bilen, Zeynep Durgut, Cemil Uğur, JinNews reporter Şehriban Abi and freelance journalist Nazan Sala who are charged with “membership in a terrorist organization” was held today at Van 5th High Criminal Court. 

Bilen, Uğur, Abi and Sala were arrested on October 9, 2020 following MA’s coverage of the torture of Osman Şiban and Servet Turgut by security officials; journalists were later released at their first hearing which was held on April 2, 2021. 

Journalist Bilen, lawyers Murat Timur, Resul Temur, Ekin Yeter and Barış Oflas were present in the hearing whereas Uğur, Durgut, Abi and Sala had requested to be excused. Dicle Fırat Journalists Association and many other journalists followed the hearing in solidarity. 

A limited number of journalists and monitors were admitted to the courtroom. Following the identity checks, the first one to speak at the hearing was defendant Bilen. Bilen stated he repeated his previous statements. 

Lawyer Timur spoke after Bilen and requested the lifting of the judicial measures upon his client. Timur also requested the return of the seized work equipment of the defendants, such as their hard discs and cameras, which are crucial for them to do their job. Other defense lawyers reaffirmed Timur’s request on behalf of their clients. 

The judicial panel recessed for a short while following the statements of the defense lawyers; after the recess the court announced its interim decision and ruled to accept the request of the defense on lifting all judicial measures, however rejected the request to return the seized materials to the defendants. Additionally, the panel of judges decided to issue a writ in order to inquire about the ongoing investigation against journalist Sala.