Upcoming Trials

Journalism and free speech trials: Week of November 15

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

November 16 Tuesday

  • The fourth hearing of the trial where journalist Dindar Karataş whom MLSA represents in court, faces “membership in a terrorist organization” charge will be held at Erzurum 3rd High Criminal Court, at 09.40. Karataş, who was arrested on November 26, was released pending trial during the first hearing that was held on February 9, 2021.The indictment presents tape recordings of Karataş’s phone conversations with his news sources and colleagues as evidence against him. In the indictment, it is also claimed that Karataş searched for opportunities to write “pro-terrorist organization” news reports and that he attempted to report on “military’s successful operations against the terrorist organization” in a light that would depict these operations “as if the people of the region were subjected to torture and cruelty.” In the indictment, Mesopotamia News Agency where Karataş worked was defined as “the media organ of the terrorist organization.”
  • The 20th hearing of the trial where since-shuttered Özgür Gündem newspaper’s editors-in-chief Hüseyin Aykol, Zana Bilir Kaya, managing editor İnan Kızılkaya and politician Hatip Dicle face “publicly degrading the government, the judiciary or the police force” and “publicly degrading the Turkish nation, the Turkish Republic and the Parliament” charges will be held at İstanbul 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance, at 11.40. The indictments present the news articles published in the newspaper as evidence against the defendants.

November 17 Wednesday

  • The third hearing of the trial where seven students of Boğaziçi University face “inciting the public to hatred and hostility” charges will be held at İstanbul 21st Criminal Court of First Instance, at 13.30. Students are charged for a work of art that includes the Kaaba, which was displayed in an on-campus exhibition that was organized as part of the protests against the appointed rector Melih Bulu. In the indictment in which the prosecutor requests imprisonment for students up to three years, it is stated that in the picture, the Kaaba was displayed together with  a basilisk figure and LGBTI+ flags. The prosecutor argued that both the figure and the LGBTI+ symbols are unacceptable as they represent things forbidden by Islam.
  • The sixth hearing of the trial where the former Chair of the Diyarbakır Bar Association Ahmet Özmen and former Executive Board members Sertaç Buluttekin, Serhat Eren, Nahit Eren, Mahsum Batı, Nuşin Uysal Ekinci, Cihan Ülsen, Muhammet Neşet Girasun, İmran Gökdere, Velat Alan and Ahmet Dağ face “degrading the Turkish nation, state of the Turkish republic, the organs and institutions of the state” and “inciting the public to hatred and hostility” charges will be held at Diyarbakır 13th High Criminal Court, at 14.00. The indictment presents the Bar’s official “April 24th Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day” statements from 2017 and 2018, its report documenting the use of military drones in Hakkari and former MP Osman Baydemir’s utterance of the word “Kurdistan” during a speech in the Assembly as evidence against the lawyers.

November 18th Thursday

  • The first hearing of the trial where journalist Yakup Önal faces “illegally obtaining or disseminating personal data” charges will be held at Şarköy Criminal Court of First Instance, at 09.45. The indictment presents the video Önal had shared on a Facebook page called Şarköy’ün Sesi (the voice of Şarköy) in which he showed and criticized the flagstones that were laid in front of the housing estate where Şarköy Deputy Mayor Adnan Sevim’s house was also located.
  • The seventh hearing of the trial where 38 people including journalists Mustafa Sönmez, Sedef Kabaş, Merdan Yanardağ. Bloomberg Business reporters Kerim Karakaya and Fercan Yalınkılıç face “defying Capital Market Law no. 6362” charges will be held at İstanbul 3rd Criminal Court of First Instance, at 10.00. The criminal investigation was launched following Turkey’s banking regulator agency BDDK’s complaint. The indictment presents finance reporting and social media posts criticizing the government’s financial policies as evidence for the accusation of “economic coup attempt.”
  • The third hearing of the trial where journalist Oktay Candemir faces “making terrorist propaganda” charges will be held at Van 5th High Criminal Court. The indictment presents the slogans in a footage which was recorded 16 years ago, footage found in digital materials confiscated from Candemir’s home during a police raid on April 5, 2019 and social media posts on his personal account as evidence against him.
  • The sixth hearing of the trial where journalist Ahmet Altan faces “insult” charges will be held at Anadolu 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance, at 10.05. Altan is tried in this case which was reopened ten years after the sentence he received in another trial was upheld by the court of appeals, for allegedly insulting the then Court of Cassation President Abdurrahman Yalçınkaya with his article titled “Preparation for a coup or shutting down Kemalism” published in Taraf newspaper in 2008. 
  • The sixth hearing of the trial where journalists Sadık Topaloğlu and Sadiye Eser face “membership in a terrorist organization” charges will be held at İstanbul 22nd High Criminal Court, at 14.00. The indictment presents Topaloğlu’s travels abroad and a guest list for an award ceremony as evidence against the journalists. Eser and Topaloğlu were detained on Nov 29, 2019 shortly after they left the Mesopotamia Agency’s office and were arrested on Dec 3, 2019. Journalists were released during the first hearing held on Mar 26, 2020.

November 19th Friday

  • The 26th hearing of the trial where 76 people including since-shuttered Dicle News Agency (DİHA) reporter Engin Eren face “membership in a terrorist organization”, “defying the Law on Assemblies and Demonstrations no. 2911” and “defying the Military Restricted Zones and Security Zones Law no. 2565” charges will be held at Batman 2nd High Criminal Court, at 09.30 am. Engin was detained in 2015 while he was following “the human shield protest” organized by civil society organizations and Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in Batman to stop the fight between PKK and the Turkish Armed Forces.