‘Government decides on what counts as terror’

The findings of the trial monitoring report, co-authored by Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA) and International Press Institute (IPI), were analyzed on MLSA TV on 10 July, Friday. Moderated by Soner Şimşek, the panel was consisted of a detailed discussion among MLSA Co-Director lawyer Veysel Ok, freelance journalist Elif Akgül, Artı TV Ankara correspondent Sibel Hürtaş, IPI Turkey Programme Coordinator Renan Akyavaş and MLSA Project Coordinator Ece Koçak.

The panel was initiated by Koçak and Akyavaş’s presentation where they informed the public about the key findings of the trial monitoring project, carried out in collaboration by MLSA and IPI. Noting that the majority of the defendants in the monitored trials consisted of journalists, Koçak stated that the defendants also included academics, authors and lawyers. She also remarked that in 98 of the 169 trials (approximately 60%) the defendants were facing terror-related accusations.

You can read the full report here.

‘Pressure on press freedom increases in parallel to growing popularity of alternative media’

Interpreting the findings of the report, Hürtaş stated, “These findings clearly designate the criminalization of journalism.” “Moreover” she added, “As it happens in times of crises, the public’s desire to be informed has risen drastically during the pandemic.” Highlighting the fact that the overall ratings of alternative media increased, Hürtaş said, “Consequently, the pressure over alternative media has also increased”.

Noting that no definition of “terror” is included in the Anti-Terror Law (TMK), lawyer Ok argued that any news story, article, or social media post can be associated with terrorism and said, “The political inclinations of the government are determinant in what counts as terror.”

‘Social reaction is effective in aligning courts with legal standards’

Freelance journalist Akgül, who was one of the monitors that gathered data as part of the trial monitoring project noted that they do not face as many problems as when they first started monitoring hearings in the courthouse. She said, “One of the most important reasons behind such relief is the publishing of these types of reports. Social reaction is very effective in aligning these courts with certain legal standards.”