İstanbul – Third hearing of the trial where Cumhuriyet’s former web editor Atakan Sönmez faces “successively making terrorist propaganda” charges was held at İstanbul 13th High Criminal Court today. Articles published on Cumhuriyet’s web site during Turkey’s military operation in Afrin, Syria were presented as evidence against Sönmez. During today’s hearing, the judge told Sönmez that he could be granted additional time to present his defense statement as to the accusations at a later date.
Sönmez noted that he wanted to present his defense now and stated the following: “We are being tried right now although the prosecutor gave a non-prosecution decision about the exact same news stories before. In one of the two news stories that are included in the indictment, Noam Chomsky’s statements are presented as criminal evidence. Chomsky’s statements are published all around the world. I practice journalism with respect to universal principles. In Turkey, the state’s official media outlets have broadcast a live feed from Qandil. Let’s talk about more recent developments, Anadolu Agency has reported on Öcalan’s message right before the mayoral election. TRT has broadcast Osman Öcalan’s statements. We cannot practice journalism in accordance with the political conjuncture. The same news stories are considered a crime one day and deemed completely acceptable on another day according to the ever-shifting conjuncture. I demand my acquittal.”
The court decided the case-file to be examined closely to reach a verdict and adjourned the trial until November 7th, 2019.
The indictment claimed that Cumhuriyet newspaper’s website had allegedly published articles that support the operations of YPG/YPJ in Syria. The indictment specifically listed two articles as evidence for the alleged crime: “YPG’s statement on the loss endured during the Olive Branch Operation” and “13 academics call for peace in Afrin, including David Harvey and Noam Chomsky.”