Upcoming Trials

Journalism and free speech trials: Week of November 8

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

November 9 Tuesday

  • The second hearing of the trial where journalist Ayşe Kara faces “membership in a terrorist organization” charges will be held at Diyarbakır 5th High Criminal Court, at 09.30am. Kara was briefly detained on June 26, 2020 as part of an investigation launched against the Democratic Society Congress (DTK) in Diyarbakır, and was later released with judicial control measures. The indictment against Kara lists her memberships of Free Women’s Congress (KJA) and Free Journalists’ Association (ÖGC) as evidence against the journalist and claims that she was actively involved with DTK. The indictment also lists Kara’s coverage of a march organized by the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) in Mardin in 2016 as evidence for the charges.
  • The first hearing of the trial where journalist Sibel Hürtaş faces “prevention of public duty” charges will be held at Ankara 37th Criminal Court of First Instance, at 09.50 am. Journalist Hürtaş was prevented by the police from following last year’s sit-in protest of many bar association chairs in the garden of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey to protest the multiple bar association law. After insisting on following the protest as a journalist, Hürtaş was taken into custody by the police. Hürtaş claimed that she was tortured and ill-treated as she was strangled in the detention vehicle, and subsequently received a report of incapacity to work for two days. The prosecutor’s office decided not to prosecute for the criminal complaint made by Hürtaş about the policemen who physically assaulted her.
  • The next hearing of the trial where Etkin News Agency (ETHA) editor Semiha Şahin and reporter Pınar Gayıp face “membership in a terrorist organization” and “making terrorist propaganda” charges will be held at İstanbul 23rd High Criminal Court, at 10.45 am. Şahin and Gayıp were released with judicial control measures and house arrest following a 14-month detainment during the previous hearing, which was held on June 13, 2019. Their house arrest was lifted during the hearing held on December 11, 2019.
  • The fourth hearing of the trial where journalist Fatih Gönül faces “membership in a terrorist organization” and “making terrorist propaganda” charges will be held at Ankara 25th High Criminal Court, at 11.00 am. The indictment presents football matches organized by Gönül and his activities at Dicle News Agency (DİHA) which is claimed to be operating under directives from a terrorist organization as evidence against him.
  • The seventh hearing of the trial where 28 people including Jiyan Haber’s proprietor journalist İdris Yayla  face “defying the Law on Assemblies and Demonstrations no. 2911” charges will be held at Batman 1st Criminal Court of First Instance, at 13.00 pm. Journalist Yayla faces these charges for following the press statement in 2016 which renounced the trustee appointed to Batman Municipality. The former MP Sebahat Tuncel is also among those who are tried.

November 11 Thursday

  • The 18th hearing of the trial where former Dicle News Agency (DİHA) reporter Şerife Oruç faces “membership in a terrorist organization” charges will be held at Batman 2nd High Criminal Court, at 09.10 am. Oruç and two others were detained by police while reporting in the field. Oruç was arrested on July 5, 2016, on accusations of “membership of a terrorist organization”. After two years in detention in the Batman M-type prison,Oruç was released on July 9, 2018 but detained immediately at the prison gate because of an arrest warrant issued for her. She was later released on July 10, 2018.
  • The first hearing of the trial where the Chair and Executive Board Members of the Ankara Bar Association face “insulting a public official because of his religious beliefs, thoughts and convictions” charges will be held at Ankara 16th High Criminal Court, at 09.30 am. The indictment, in which the prosecutor requests imprisonment up to two years for the Chair and the Board Members, presents the press release by the Ankara Bar Association as evidence against the defendants. The press release was issued after the April 24 sermon of the President of Religious Affairs Ali Erbaş where he targeted LGBTI+ community and HIV-positive people. The press release, which was issued on April 26, condemned the hate speech by Erbaş. On the following day, the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office launched an investigation against the Ankara Bar Association.
  • The 14th hearing of the trial where journalist Kibriye Evren faces “membership in a terrorist organization” and “terrorist propaganda” charges will be held at Diyarbakır 5th High Criminal Court, at 10.30 am. The indictment presents her activities as a journalist and her social media posts as evidence against Evren. Evren was arrested on Oct 11, 2018 and was tried whilst in detention. She was released after the eighth hearing of the trial on Nov 11, 2019 following a 13-month detainment.

November 12 Friday

  • The 37th hearing  of the trial where since shuttered Taraf newspaper’s former administrators Ahmet Altan, Yasemin Çongar and Yıldıray Oğur, reporter Mehmet Baransu, and Aktüel reporter Tuncay Opçin face “establishing or managing a terrorist organization”, “procuring documents concerning the security of the state with other intentions than damaging, procuring or stealing or using said documents outside their intended purpose”, “securing classified information relating to the security of the state, Disclosing classified information relating to the security of the state”, “terrorist propaganda” and “disclosing information or documents that, due to their nature, must be kept confidential for reasons relating to the security, or domestic or foreign political interests of the State” charges will be held at İstanbul 13rd High Criminal Court, at 10.00 am. In the 276 page indictment, the prosecutor requests imprisonment for Baransu up to 75 years.
  • The 15th hearing of the trial where journalist Rüstem Batum whom MLSA represents in court, faces “publicly denigrating the state’s military and law enforcement personnel” charges pursuant to Turkish Penal Code’s notorious Article 301 will be held at İstanbul 43rd Criminal Court of First Instance, at 11.40 am. Batum faces these charges for statements he made during a TV appearance on journalist Ayşegül Doğan’s programme on İMC TV in September 2015.