Bitlis – Second hearing of journalist Uğur Yılmaz, defended by Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA) Legal Unit, was held at Bitlis 2. High Criminal Court. Yılmaz is charged with “membership in a terrorist organization” and “terrorist propaganda”.
Uğur Yılmaz was arrested due to anonymous witness statements, his social media posts and the press statements he reported, on 17 July 2017. Yılmaz is facing from 9,5 to 25 years in prison on “membership in a terrorist organization” and “terrorist propaganda”.
Yılmaz, who has been imprisoned in Elazığ Prison joined the hearing via the judicial conferencing system, SEGBİS. His family, lawyers, and colleagues were present in the hearing as well.
“Anonymous witness statements have victimized hundreds of people”
Yılmaz started his defense by criticizing the judicial conferencing system, noted he is a journalist and that the case was built upon his professional work, and said, “In the recent years, anonymous witness statements have victimized hundreds of people. Nobody knows what the witness is saying, what kinds of evidence they are presenting etc. What is more interesting is that there are numerous anonymous witness statements about so many people and these statements are basically identical.” He remarked that his reports and photos were presented as evidence against him and added, “If I had an ‘escape risk’ I wouldn’t have gone to depose at the police station, on my own. Nevertheless, I have been imprisoned for 18 months.”
After Yılmaz’s defense statement, MLSA Legal Unit’s Zelal Pelin Doğan took the floor and said, ”My client is a journalist and he had been working as a journalist for years. There is no reason for his detention, we request his release.”
The court requested a sound analysis from Bitlis and Elazığ Police Departments, in order to confirm whether Yılmaz had chanted any slogans during the press statement he followed as a journalist. The panel of judges decided to listen to the anonymous witness one more time at the next hearing, until which Yılmaz will remain in detention. The hearing was adjourned until 12 February.