Upcoming Trials

Journalism and free speech trials: Week of April 12

This week several journalism and freedom of expression trials will resume at courts. Below is a list of this week’s hearings:

13 April Tuesday

  • Third hearing of the trial where journalist and economist Mustafa Sönmez faces “insulting the President” charges for three tweets he had posted between 2015 and 2016 will be held at Anadolu 26th Criminal Court of First Instance this week. 
  • Re-trial of since shuttered Zaman newspaper columnists Şahin Alpay, Ali Bulaç, Mümtaz’er Türköne and editor Mehmet Özdemir will begin at İstanbul 13th High Criminal Court this week. The Court of Cassation’s 16th Penal Chamber completed its appellate review of the Zaman newspaper case and overturned the convictions of Alpay, Bulaç and Türköne, ruling that their actions do not constitute “membership in a terrorist organization” and argued that they should stand trial for “aiding and abetting a terrorist organization without being a member” charge. The court also overturned the acquittal decision for editor Özdemir, ruling that his actions constitute “membership in a terrorist organization.” 
  • Re-trial of HDP Co-Vice President and Van MP Tayip Temel will resume at Diyarbakır 2nd High Criminal Court this week. Temel was initially sentenced to 18 years in prison for “founding and managing a terrorist organization” while he was tried in the KCK Main Trial; however, the Supreme Court had overturned his sentence last year. Kurdish newspaper Journalism and free speech trials: Week of April 12’s former Editor-in-Chief Temel was arrested on October 8, 2011 and remained in prison until July 1, 2014. 

14 April Wednesday

  • Fifth hearing of the trial where Adıyaman-based local newspaper Gerger Fırat’s News Manager Özgür Boğatekin is accused of “slander” will be held at Gerger Criminal Court of First Instance. The journalist faces this charge for a news report published in the newspaper on May 10, 2011 titled “Allegation of Torture by the Gendarmerie” and a column Hacı Boğatekin penned on May 13, 2011 on the matter. Boğatekin is accused of slandering the gendarmerie sergeant who allegedly punched a citizen, causing him to have cardiac arrest. 
  • Third hearing of the trial where journalist Buse Söğütlü is accused of “disclosing or publishing the identity of a public official on anti-terrorist duty and identifying them as a target” will be held at İstanbul 33rd High Criminal Court this week. Söğütlü is accused of identifying former Presiding Judge of  İstanbul 37th High Criminal Court  Akın Gürlek for sharing the URL of a news report on Progressive Lawyers’ Association (ÇHD) trial with the note: “If Hitler gets up from his grave and sits on Akın Gürlek’s chair, he would’ve probably formed the same sentences. Putting occupational ethics aside, one should carry the weight of the position they hold.” 
  • Third hearing of the trial where journalists İdris Sayılğan and Naci Kaya are charged with “trespassing a military zone” will be held at Edirne 8th Criminal Court this week. Mesopotamia News Agency reporter Sayılğan, whom MLSA represents in court, was detained on Feb 29, 2020 while reporting on the refugees crossing Turkey’s Greek border in Edirne’s Pazarkule district after Turkey’s statement on opening its borders to Europe. Sayılğan was released on March 3, 2020.
  • The trial where Demokratik Ulus newspaper’s former Managing Editor Arafat Dayan faces “terror propaganda” charges will resume at İstanbul 2nd High Criminal Court this week. Journalist Dayan was sentenced to 5 years and 10 months in prison for this charge and entered prison in 2016 after the Court of Cassation upheld this sentence in May 2015. Following the enactment of the Judiciary Reform Package, which revised the article on “terror propaganda,” it was ruled that Dayan shall be retried and he was released from prison.

15 April Thursday

  • Fifth hearing of the trial where Evrensel daily’s former Managing Editor Cem Şimşek faces “insulting the president” charges for a news story on German cartoonists who drew Erdoğan will resume at Bakırköy 27th Criminal Court of First Instance.
  • Trial where Etkin News Agency (ETHA) editor Semiha Şahin and reporter Pınar Gayıp face “membership in a terrorist organization” and “making terrorist propaganda” charges will resume at İstanbul 23rd High Criminal Court. Şahin and Gayıp were released with judicial control measures and house arrest following a 14-month detainment during the previous hearing, which was held on June 13, 2019. Their house arrest was lifted during the hearing held on December 11, 2019.
  • Second hearing of the trial where journalist Cengiz Çandar and Kemal Işıktaş face “praising and offence and the offender” charges based on Twitter posts they had posted on May 30, 2017 will be held at İstanbul 30th Criminal Court of First Instance. Çandar, whom MLSA represents in court, faces this charge for a tweet about Ayşe Deniz Karacagil who was killed by ISIS while fighting in Northern Syria:  “Girl with the red scarf, the angel with the warmest smile in Gezi who warmed our hearts, fell to the ground in Raqqa and hurt our hearts by ascending to the stars.” The indictment claims that Karacagil died fighting for a terrorist organization in Raqqa and that praising her on social media would pose an open threat to public peace.
  • Trial where 32 people including journalist Metin Yoksu face “preventing a public officer from performing their duty” and defying “Law no. 2911 on Assemblies and Demonstrations” charges for attending an anti-government demonstration on 17 December 2013 will resume at İstanbul 13th Criminal Court of First Instance this week. The Istanbul Governor had banned the event, which was organized by Taksim Dayanışması (the Taksim Solidarity platform) in the aftermath of the 2013 corruption scandal in Turkey. Yoksu was following the event as a reporter at the time and was briefly detained. 

16 April Friday

  • Fourth hearing of the trial where journalist Aziz Oruç, whom MLSA represents in court, faces “membership in a terrorist organization” and “terrorist propaganda” charges will be held at the Ağrı 2nd High Criminal Court this week. Oruç was arrested on December 18, 2019 in Ağrı’s Doğubayazıt Province on the grounds that he entered the country in an illegal manner. Oruç remained in pre-trial detention for 11 months until being released pending trial during the third hearing which was held on November 9, 2020.