Upcoming Trials

Journalism and free speech trials: Week of March 22

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

23 March Tuesday

  • Three separate court cases where journalist and former President Abdullah Gül’s press advisor Ahmet Sever faces various charges for his 2018 book İçimde Kalmasın/Tanıklığımdır will resume at İstanbul 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance. Sever faces three separate trials for the book; he is on trial for “insulting the President” per President Erdoğan’s complaint, for “insulting a public officer” for AKP Tekirdağ MP and Parliament Head Mustafa Şentop per Şentop’s complaint, and faces another court case for “insulting a public officer” per Minister of Industry and Technology Mustafa Varank’s complaint.

24 March Wednesday

  • 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.” 
  • Second hearing of the trial where Yeni Yaşam newspaper reporter Hatice Şahin faces “membership in a terrorist organization” charges will be held at Diyarbakır 9th High Criminal Court this week. Şahin was taken in police custody with 144 other people on October 9, 2018 as part of an investigation against Democratic Society Congress (DTK), a pro-Kurdish NGO. The indictment lists her flights from Diyarbakır to İstanbul and conversations with news sources as evidence against journalist Şahin.

25 March Thursday

  • First hearing of the trial where 46 defendants who were detained while the police attacked Saturday Mothers/People’s 700th Week meeting at Istanbul’s Galatasaray Square are accused of “resisting the police” per the Law on Assemblies and Demonstrations will be held at İstanbul 21st Criminal Court of First Instance this week. 46 people who were detained on August 25, 2018 include members of the Saturday Mothers/People, human rights defenders and journalists who were reporting on the meeting.
  • Seventh hearing of the trial where journalist Hayri Demir is accused of “membership in a terrorist organization” and “making terrorist propaganda” charges will resume at Ankara 15th High Criminal Court this week. This new 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.
  • Second hearing of the trial where Cumhuriyet reporter Hazal Ocak is sued by former Minister of Treasury and Finance Berat Albayrak with a request of 200k TRY will be held at İstanbul 8th Civil Court of First Instance this week. Ocak is sued for a news report published in Cumhuriyet on January 20, 2020 titled “Son-in-law knows the deal” which revealed that Albayrak had purchased land on the Kanal İstanbul route. The petition claims that Ocak’s reporting “twists the truth, is unrealistic and insulting” while also aiming to “defame Albayrak and slander his reputation.”