Journalism and free speech trials: Week of Feb 25 – Mar 1


This week several journalism and freedom of expression cases, including academic Özlem Beyarslan’s case who is defended by Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA), will be heard.

Below is a list of this week’s hearings:

February 25, Monday

  • Also known as the TRT Staff Members Trial, 42 staff members of state-owned media outlet TRT (Turkey Radio and Television Corporation) will appear before Ankara 22. High Criminal Court, on “membership in a terrorist organization” charges, for having alleged links to the Gulen Movement, which the Turkish government believes to be the mastermind behind the 2016 coup attempt. 9 out of 42 defendants are in detention.

February 26, Tuesday

  • Hearing of academic Özlem Beyarslan, defended by MLSA’s Legal Unit, will be held at İstanbul 14. High Criminal Court at 11:45 AM. Beyarslan is charged with “making terrorist propaganda” due to her participation in the peace petition titled “We will not be a party to this crime” criticizing the state’s military involvement in the predominantly Kurdish populated cities. The petition was launched by Academics for Peace Initiative.
  • Ahmet Kanbal, a reporter for the pro-Kurdish Mesopotamia News Agency, will appear before İzmir 2. High Criminal Court at 2:10 PM, on charges of “making terrorist propaganda”, based on the news reports he made regarding the Turkish Army’s military operations in Syria’s Afrin.
  • The now-shuttered pro-Kurdish Dicle News Agency (DİHA) reporter Şerife Oruç will appear before Batman 2. High Criminal Court on “membership in a terrorist organization” charges. Spending almost two years in detention Oruç was released on July 9, pending trial.

February 27, Wednesday

  • Erol Önderoğlu, Şebnem Korur-Fi̇ncanci and Ahmet Nesi̇n will appear before İstanbul 13. High Criminal Court, on “making terrorist propaganda” charges due to their participation in the “Edi̇tors-i̇n-Chi̇ef-on-Watch” solidarity campaign launched by the now-shuttered pro-Kurdish Özgür Gündem daily.

March 1, Friday

  • Also known as the Karşı Newspaper Trial, hearing of 12 people including the daily’s Editor-in-Chief and the owner, will be held at İstanbul 23. High Criminal Court. Defendants are charged with “membership in a terrorist organization”, “aiding and abetting a terrorist organization without being a member” and “violating the confidentiality of a criminal investigation”.