This week, the hearings of several journalism and freedom of expression trials will be held. Below is the list of these hearings:
13 December Monday
- The eighth hearing of the trial where journalist Durket Süren faces “aiding and abetting a terrorist organization” and “making propaganda for a terrorist organization” charges will be held at Diyarbakır 11th High Criminal Court, at 10:05. Journalist Süren was taken into police custody on March 1, 2019 in Diyarbakır’s Lice district while she was reporting. The indictment presents her tweets, phone recordings, her selling copies of Azadiya Welat and Özgür Gündem newspapers and her TV program titled “Women’s Perspective” on April 11, 2017 as evidence against her.
14 December Tuesday
- The 12th hearing of the trial where former Gelî Kurdistan TV cameraman Rojhat Doğru faces “disrupting the unity and integrity of the state,” “membership in a terrorist organization,” and “making propaganda for a terrorist organization” charges will be held at Diyarbakır 8th High Criminal Court, at 09:10. While Doğru is tried without detention in this case, he was arrested on May 23 for sending money to a friend in prison. The indictment presents his social media posts, reporting on the Kobanî protests of October 6 – 8, 2014, several interviews he conducted, and secret witness statements as evidence against him.
- The second hearing of the retrial where newspaper distributors Veysi Altın and Ercan Yeltaş face “making propaganda for a terrorist organization” charges will be held at Diyarbakır 5th High Criminal Court, at 11:50. The Diyarbakır Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office had indicted Veysi Altın and Ercan Yeltaş along with another newspaper distributor for disseminating terrorist propaganda in 2018. The indictment was accepted by Diyarbakır 5th High Criminal Court. In the indictment, news reports in a newspaper called “Rojava Medya” and which were found by the police among the newspapers sold by Altın, were presented as evidence against the distributors. Diyarbakır 5th High Criminal Court acquitted the distributors of all charges, stating that the crimes which the defendants were alleged with had no legal basis. After the prosecution appealed the acquittal ruling, the 3rd Penal Chamber of Gaziantep Circuit Court of Appeal reviewed the case. The appeals court overturned the acquittal decisions for Altın and Yeltaş and sent the case file back to the local court for retrial.
15 December Wednesday
- The sixth hearing of the trial where journalist Engin Korkmaz faces “insulting the president” charges will be held at Antalya 19th Criminal Court of First Instance, at 09:30.The indictment presents the posts Korkmaz had shared on his social media account as evidence against him.
- The first hearing of the trial where the Chair and Executive Board Members of the Ankara Bar Association face “insulting a public official because of his religious beliefs, thoughts and convictions” charges will be held at Ankara 16th High Criminal Court, at 09.30 am. The indictment, in which the prosecutor requests imprisonment up to two years for the Chair and the Board Members, presents the press release by the Ankara Bar Association as evidence against the defendants. The press release was issued after the April 24 sermon of the President of Religious Affairs Ali Erbaş where he targeted LGBTI+ community and HIV-positive people. The press release, which was issued on April 26, condemned the hate speech by Erbaş. On the following day, the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office launched an investigation against the Ankara Bar Association.
- The 10th hearing of the trial where HDP Diyarbakır Branch’s Press Consultant Vedat Dağ faces “membership in a terrorist organization” and “making propaganda for a terrorist organization” charges will be held at Diyarbakır 11th High Criminal Court, at 10:50. The indictment presents Dağ’s attendance to HDP events as a press member, the posts he shared about these events on his social media account and secret witness testimonies as evidence against Dağ. Dağ is accused of conducting media operations for the KCK Press Committee.
16 December Thursday
- The first hearing of the retrial where novelist, columnist and the Editorial Advisory Board member of the since-shuttered Özgür Gündem daily Aslı Erdoğan faces “making propaganda for a terrorist organization” charges will be held at İstanbul 23rd High Criminal Court, at 09:30. Erdoğan was acquitted of “disrupting the unity and integrity of the state” and “membership in a terrorist organization” charges at the 16th hearing of the “Özgür Gündem Main Trial”. At the hearing, the court had also ruled to drop “making propaganda for a terrorist organization charges” on the grounds that the four-month statute of limitations for pressing charges per Press Law had expired. After the prosecution had appealed the court’s ruling, the 27th Criminal Chamber of the Istanbul Regional Court of Justice reviewed the case file and overturned the court’s decision to drop “propaganda” charges for Erdoğan. The Appellate Court remanded the case file to İstanbul 23rd High Criminal Court and ordered further investigation.
- The third hearing of the trial where Mesopotamia News Agency reporter Mehmet Aslan faces “membership in a terrorist organization” will be held at İstanbul 24th High Criminal Court, at 09:40. Aslan was arrested on January 8, 2021 in Antalya based on an investigation launched by the Antalya Chief Prosecutor’s Office. The indictment against the journalist was initially returned to the prosecutor’s office by an Antalya court due to lack of jurisdiction. An Istanbul court later accepted the indictment. Aslan was held in pre-trial detention for over 5 months and was released at the first hearing held on May 26, 2021.
- The 11th hearing of the trial where since shuttered TV10’s former cameraman Kemal Demir and TV10 employee Kemal Karagöz face “aiding and abetting a terrorist organization without being a member” charges will be held at Istanbul 28th High Criminal Court, at 10:30. In the indictment, it is claimed that Demir and Karagöz were “acquiring equipment to set up a television for PKK/KCK terrorist organization” and purchase records are presented as evidence to this claim. At the hearing which was held on February 9,2019, Demir was released from prison after a detention period of over a year. The court has yet to lift the international ban imposed on Demir and Karagöz.
- The fifth hearing of the trial where journalist Derya Okatan faces “public insult” charges will be held at İstanbul 39th Criminal Court of First Instance, at 11:05. The indictment presents a news article titled “Mersin Women’s Platform: ‘We are exposing lawyer Onur Kale as harasser’ published in Etkin News Agency (ETHA) where Okatan was then the managing editor. Okatan is put on trial upon complaint by lawyer Kale whose first complaint was dismissed by the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office. Although Kale objected to the decision of non-prosecution at the Istanbul 14th Criminal Court of Peace, the court rejected the lawyer’s objection. Thereupon, Kale applied to the 8th Penal Chamber of the Court of Cassation with the request of “overturning for the benefit of the law”. The Chamber found the objection appropriate and overturned the decision of the Istanbul 14th Criminal Court of Peace. Upon the ruling of the higher court, an investigation was launched against Okatan and the indictment against Okatan was completed on September 9, 2019, by the Press Crimes Investigation Bureau of the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office.
17 December Friday
- The first hearing of the trial where journalist Namık Koçak faces “making propaganda for a terrorist organization” charges will be held at İstanbul 22nd High Criminal Court, at 09:30. The indictment presents social media posts Koçak had shared on his personal account between 2015 and 2020 as evidence against the journalist.