Upcoming Trials

Journalism and free speech trials: Week of December 20

This week, the hearings of several journalism and freedom of expression trials will be held. Below is the list of these hearings:

21 December Tuesday

  • The tenth hearing of the trial where journalist Hayri Demir faces  “membership in a terrorist organization” and “making propaganda for a terrorist organization” charges will be held at Ankara 15th High Criminal Court, at 11:20. The trial received media attention because evidence presented in the indictment included footage and photographs taken by Demir while he was covering news in Syria. This footage was inside a memory card from a camera that was stolen from Demir’s home in Ankara.
  • The 12th hearing of the trial where Fırat Yeşilçınar, Doğan Güzel, Sinan Balık, Davut Uçar, Elif Aydoğmuş, Reyhan Hacıoğlu, Zeki Erden, Özgür Paksoy, Mesut Kaynar, Hüseyin Gündüz, Kemal Bozkurt, Burcu Özkaya, Sevdiye Ergürbüz, Önder Elaldı, Ender Öndeş, Gülfem Karataş, Gökhan Çetin and  Yılmaz Bozkurt face “prevention of public duty” and “insulting a public official” charges will be held at İstanbul 5th Criminal Court of the First Instance, at 11:30. On August 16, 2016, İstanbul 8th Criminal Court of Peace had closed down the Özgür Gündem daily on the charges of “spreading terrorist propaganda.” The police raided the Özgür Gündem daily’s on the very same day and took 22 journalists in custody. The journalists were held in custody for 14 days and were referred to the prosecutor’s office. The trial of the journalists began on February 9, 2018 at İstanbul 5th Criminal Court of the First Instance. On the ninth hearing of the trial, the court had decided to separate the files of four defendants from the case file.

23 December Thursday

  • The sixth hearing of the retrial of 38 people including HDP Co-Vice President and Van MP Tayip Temel and HDP Mardin MP Pero Dündar will be held at Diyarbakır 2nd High Criminal Court, at 09:10. 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. The indictment presents journalistic activities as evidence against Kurdish newspaper Azadiye Welat’s former Editor-in-Chief Temel. Temel was arrested on October 8, 2011 and remained in prison until July 1, 2014.
  • The third hearing of the retrial where since-shuttered Özgür Gündem’s Editor-in-Chief Eren Keskin and Managing Editor Reyhan Çapan faces “defying the Press Law no. 5187” charges will be held at İstanbul 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance, at 11:40. In five separate indictments prepared against Keskin and Çapan, five different news stories published in Özgür Gündem in 2013 and 2014 are cited as evidence against them. The prosecutors claim that the news stories about 14 years old Berkin Elvan who was killed by the police during the Gezi Park protests, were publications which “disclose[d] the identities of victims or perpetrators of crimes under the age of 18.”
  • The first hearing of the trial where journalists İzel Sezer and Doğan Ergün faces “libel”, “insult” and “unlawful disclosure of data obtained by recording non-public conversations between people via the press”  charges will be held at İstanbul 33rd Criminal Court of First Instance, at 09:30. The indictment, which was prepared after the investigation per the complaint of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s former lawyer Mustafa Doğan İnal, cites two news reports published on the website of İleri Haber and dated December 2, 2020 and December 16, 2020 as evidence against the journalists.
  • The 15th hearing of the trial where journalist Can Dündar faces “publishing or distributing the publications of terrorist organizations” charges will be held at İstanbul 22nd High Criminal Court, at 10:10. Dündar stands trial for showing solidarity with the shuttered Özgür Gündem daily as an Editor-in-Chief on Watch. The indictment cites a news article published in the newspaper on the day when Dündar was the Editor-in-Chief on Watch as evidence against the journalist. The prosecution requests imprisonment for Dündar for up to three years. An arrest warrant was issued for Dündar on December 22, 2016.
  • The hearings of three separate trials where journalist and former President Abdullah Gül’s press advisor Ahmet Sever faces various charges for his 2018 book İçimde Kalmasın/Tanıklığımdır will be held at İstanbul 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance, at 10:45. The charges Sever faces: “insulting the President” per President Erdoğan’s complaint; “insulting a public officer” per AKP Tekirdağ MP and the Speaker of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey Mustafa Şentop’s complaint; “insulting a public officer” per the Minister of Industry and Technology Mustafa Varank’s complaint.
  • The hearing of the trial where musician Ferhat Tunç faces “making propaganda for a terrorist organization” and “membership in a terrorist organization” charges will be held at Diyarbakır 5th High Criminal Court, at 11:00. The prosecution requests imprisonment for Tunç for up to 20 years, citing his social media posts as evidence against the musician and claiming that he is a Democratic Society Congress (DTK) delegate.

24 December Friday

  • The 16th hearing of the trial where 27 defendants including journalist and translator Meşale Tolu face “membership in a terrorist organization” and “making propaganda for a terrorist organization” charges will be held at Istanbul 29th High Criminal Court, at 10:00.