Case Monitoring

Court sentences Nurcan Kaya to 1 year 3 months in prison over Kobanê tweet

Diyarbakır – Writer, human rights defender and lawyer Nurcan Kaya was sentenced to 1 year and 3 months in prison over a tweet regarding the 2014 attack of ISIS against the city of Kobanê. The court ruled to defer the announcement of the verdict. 

The fourth and final hearing of the trial where Artı Gerçek columnist Kaya, whom the Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA) defends, faced “making terrorist propaganda” charges due to her tweets was held today at Diyarbakır 9th High Criminal Court. Kaya and her lawyer MLSA Co-Director Veysel Ok were present at the hearing where Diyarbakır Bar Association Chair Nahit Eren and lawyer Mehmet Emin Aktar also submitted defense statements.

Law enforcement officers took high security measures both inside and around the courtroom; journalists and lawyers who followed the hearing were able to enter the courtroom after being subject to body searches. The hearing was monitored by Turkey Human Rights Foundation (TİHV) Board Member lawyer Barış Yavuz, TİHV Diyarbakır Representative Murat Aba, Human Rights Association (İHD) Diyarbakır Chair lawyer Abdullah Zeytun and many members of the Diyarbakır Bar. 

Kaya: In order to sentence me, many experiments were made with various articles of the penal code

The prosecutor repeated his final opinion where he requested the punishment of Kaya as per the “terrorist propaganda” charge. The final opinion had requested up to seven and a half years imprisonment for Kaya and presented the following tweet she posted during ISIS’s 2014 attack on Kobanê as evidence for crime: “Not only Kurds but all people residing in Kobanê are in resistance. Democrat Arabs are also resisting…”

Kaya took the floor following the prosecution’s statement and noted that, as she already submitted her defense, she would now speak in detail about the initiation of the proceedings against herself. 

Kaya explained that the proceedings began after she shared a critical article about the official statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs regarding “Fountain of Peace,” the military operation conducted in Northern Syria by the Turkish Armed Forces. The Ministry’s statement had claimed that the operation was in line with the United Nations (UN) Convention and its relevant regulations. 

Kaya stated that following the aforesaid social media post, an investigation was launched, her house was raided and that she was taken into custody at the airport during her return from abroad. Noting that two separate investigations as per articles 216 and 301 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) had resulted in non-prosecution decisions, Kaya stated that, finally, an indictment was prepared as per the “making terrorist propaganda” charge. She said: “In order to sentence me, many experiments were made with various articles of the penal code. This is judicial harassment. These create the impression that there is some sort of a decision, an instruction and persistence somewhere, to prevent me from expressing my critical opinions.” 

“A human rights defender does not take their stand according to Turkey’s political positioning”

Kaya underlined that as an anti-war human rights activist, she does not believe political problems can be solved via guns; moreover she reminded the court of Amnesty and United Nations reports that confirmed the severe human rights violations by Turkey-allied armed groups in Syria. 

Repeating once again that ISIS is an internationally recognized barbarian organization that attacked the Kurdish province of Kobanê, Kaya highlighted the fact that calling for support for the city cannot constitute a crime. The human rights defender also added, back then, Turkey was also releasing statements in support of the city, and that the Democratic Union Party (PYD) leader was hosted by state officials in Ankara. Kaya also stated that as a free-willed human rights defender, she will not take her stand in accordance with Turkey’s political positioning and that she will continue to defend peace against war.

“By covering the events in Diyarbakır for the west of Turkey, Kaya attracted the attention of the police”

Taking the floor to submit his defense against the final opinion, lawyer Veysel Ok said that the documents presented by his client to the court regarding the essence of the proceeding against her, were very illuminating and should be analyzed well. 

Noting that the “virtual patrols” of police officers online are a practice that cannot be accounted for by the law, Ok said that his client had attracted the attention of the police by covering the events in Diyarbakır for the west of Turkey.

Ok requested the acquittal of his client, after emphasizing she is not only a lawyer, but also a journalist who exercised her right to free expression as per the rulings of the Constitutional Court and European Court of Human Rights. 

Diyarbakır Bar Chair Nahit Eren also submitted a defense statement on behalf of Kaya. He highlighted the fact that Turkey did not define PYD as a terrorist organization back when Kaya posted the aforementioned tweet, which according to Eren, had to be evaluated within that context. 

Lawyer Mehmet Emin Aktar told the judicial panel that the practices of ISIS were the most barbaric ones since the Nazi regime and repeated the significance and importance of the city Kobanê, both for the Kurds and for the world. 

After being asked for her final statement, Kaya requested her acquittal. 

Following a short recess, the court sentenced Kaya to 1 year and 3 months in prison for “making terrorist propaganda,” and deferred the announcement of the verdict.