Upcoming Trials

Journalism and free speech trials: Week of March 15

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

16 March Tuesday

  • Eighth hearing of the trial where since shuttered Diyarbakır-based Özgür Gün TV’s former staffer Barış Barıştıran faces “terror propaganda” charges for live broadcasting the General Assembly of the Democratic Society Congress (DTK) which was held in Diyarbakır in March 2016 will be held at Diyarbakır 8th High Criminal Court this week.
  • Fifth hearing of the trial where journalists Aziz Oruç and Ersin Çaksu face “denigrating the Turkish nation” charges per Turkish Penal Code’s notorious Article 301 for various news stories published in Özgürlükçü Demokrasi newspaper between October 21 – November 1, 2016 will be held at İstanbul 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance. Journalists Oruç and Çaksu were tried alongside Selman Keleş, Özgür Paksoy, Kenan Kırkaya, İshak Yasul and Ersin Çaksu in this trial. Five other defendants were each sentenced to 5 months in prison per “denigrating the Turkish nation” charges, their sentences were suspended. Oruç and Çaksu’s files were separated since their testimonies were not taken at the time.  
  • Third hearing of the trial where Cumhuriyet daily’s former reporter Alican Uludağ and Managing Editor Olcay Büyüktaş Akça face “disclosing or publishing the identity of a public official on anti-terrorist duty and identifying them as a target via press” charges will be held at İstanbul 32nd High Criminal Court this week. Journalists stand trial for Uludağ’s news report published on 22 November 2019, which revealed that law enforcement were tipped off about the Ankara railway station bombing 8 days prior to the attack but sat on this information. Indictment claims that sharing the name and address of the whistleblower’s workplace goes beyond “the right to inform the public.” 
  • Fifth hearing of the trial where Cumhuriyet reporter Seyhan Avşar and Sözcü daily Managing Editor Necdet Önemli face “identifying a public officer as a target for terrorist organizations” charges for a news story published on 5 March 2019 titled “Sözcü prosecutor has a criminal record” will be held at İstanbul 27th High Criminal Court.
  • Sixth hearing of the trial where former Halk TV executive and journalist Hakan Aygün faces “publicly degrades the religious values of a section of the public” charges for a tweet criticizing the government for demanding donations to combat COVID-19 will be held at Bodrum 3rd Criminal Court of First Instance. Aygün was taken under police custody on April 2 for this tweet and was arrested for “inciting the public to hatred” and “insult” charges on April 3. Journalist Aygün was released pending trial during the first hearing which was held on May 6, 2020. 
  • 23rd hearing of the trial where former Dicle News Agency (DİHA) reporter Engin Eren faces “membership in a terrorist organization” charges will resume at Batman 2nd High Criminal Court this week.

17 March Wednesday

  • Tenth hearing of the trial where 22 defendants, including German-Turkish dual citizen Etkin News Agency (ETHA) reporter and social worker Adil Demirci, are tried on charges of “membership in a terrorist organization” and “making propaganda on behalf of a terrorist organization” will be held at İstanbul 25th High Criminal Court. Adil Demirci was released on February 14, 2019 after a 10-month detainment.
  • Third hearing of the trial where journalist and DİSK Basın-İş Executive board Member Ali Ergin Demirhan faces “consecutively making terror propaganda” charges will be held at İstanbul 24th High Criminal Court this week. Sendika.org Managing Editor Demirhan is accused of terror propaganda for six separate news reports on the clashes between the Turkish army and the YPG from the first three months of 2018.
  • First hearing of the trial where seven Boğaziçi University students face “inciting the people to hatred and animosity” charges will be held at İstanbul 21st Criminal Court of First Instance this week. Students are charged for a work of art that depicts Qabe, which was included in an on-campus exhibition that was organized as part of the protests against the appointed rector Melih Bulu. Students Doğu Demirtaş and Selahattin Can have been in pre-trial detention since January 30, 2021.

18 March Thursday

  • Second hearing of the trial where Cumhuriyet newspaper reporter Hazal Ocak, Managing Editor Olcay Büyüktaş, editor İpek Özbey and photojournalist Vedat Arık face “publishing the identities of state officials on anti-terror duty and/or identifying them as targets” and “violation of the privacy of personal life” charges will be held at İstanbul 26th High Criminal Court. Journalists stand trial for Ocak’s reporting on an illegal construction site in the land next to Turkish Presidency’s Communications Director Fatih Altun’s home in Kuzguncuk, which was published on April 14, 2020. The indictment claimed that “freedom of expression and dissemination of thought must at times be limited in order to protect the public and the state,” and further argued that Communications Director Altun must be considered as “having anti-terror duty and serving for this purpose when considered his statements and activities in relation to terrorist organizations.
  • Twelfth hearing of the trial where journalist Arif Aslan faces “membership in a terrorist organization” charges will resume at Van 5th High Criminal Court. Aslan and since shuttered Dicle News Agency reporter Selman Keleş were arrested on 30 March 2017 while taking photos near Van Municipality building as terror suspects and were released during the first hearing of their trial, which was held on 21 November 2017. Although Aslan and Keleş were tried in the same court case Keleş’s file was separated during the eighth hearing which was held on Sept 3, 2020 due to him residing abroad.