Upcoming Trials

Journalism and free speech trials: Week of October 11

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

October 11 Monday

  • The sixth 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). The indictment presents her flights from Diyarbakır to İstanbul and phone conversations with news sources as evidence against journalist Şahin.

October 12 Tuesday

  • The second hearing of the trial where journalist Ruşen Takva faces “membership in a terrorist organization” and “defying the Law on Assemblies and Demonstrations no. 2911” charges will be held at Van 2nd High Criminal Court this week. Takva is accused of attempting to cover the press statement and the subsequent march organized under the title “Liberation and National Unity of the Kurdish People” with the participation of Democratic Social Congress (DTK) Co-Chair and HDP Ağrı MP Berdan Öztürk. The indictment claims that Takva was “one of those who organized and ran the march” and “continued with the demonstration and marching despite warnings suggesting that the event was banned” and requests up to 18 years in prison for the journalist.
  • The fourth hearing of the trial where journalist Rojda Oğuz faces “membership in a terrorist organization” and “terror propaganda” charges will be held at Van 5th High Criminal Court this week. Oğuz stands trial  among 55 defendants and evidence presented against the journalist include press statements and demonstrations she had attended as well as her social media posts. Attending a demonstration against the Roboski massacre is among the evidence. The indictment also lists a letter dated Feb 10, 2016 from the General Directorate of Press, Broadcasting and Information, which used to be affiliated to the Prime Minister’s office, stating that the institution’s records do not show that Oğuz has a press card.
  • The 13th hearing of the trial where 23 defendants including Etkin News Agency (ETHA) editor İsminaz Temel and reporter Havva Cuştan face “membership in a terrorist organization” and “terrorist propaganda” charges will be held at the İstanbul 27th High Criminal Court.  The indictment presents the press conferences and events which the journalists followed as evidence against the journalists.Temel had been released during the third hearing after a 16-month detainment.
  • The ninth hearing of the trial where journalist Hayri Demir faces  “membership in a terrorist organization” and “making terrorist propaganda” charges will be held 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.
  • The third hearing of the trial where journalist Roza Metina facesmembership in a terrorist organization” charges will be held at Diyarbakır 5th High Criminal Court this week. The indictment which has been prepared for “The Democratic Society Congress Investigation” presents her membership of the since shuttered Kurdish Authors Association and so-called forbidden publications which were found during a raid of her house as evidence against Metina. At the last hearing on September 14, the prosecutor demanded imprisonment up to 15 years for Metina.

October 13 Wednesday

  • The second hearing of the trial where eight people including journalists Ahmet Kanbal, Mehmet Şah Oruç, Jinnews reporter Rojda Aydın, Nurcan Yalçın and Halime Parlak face defying the Law on Assemblies and Demonstrations no. 2911” charges will be held at Mardin 1st Criminal Court of First Instance this week.
  • The first hearing of the trial where journalist Derya Okatan faces “making terrorist propaganda” charges will be held at Ankara 4th High Criminal Court this week. The indictment, which is the end result of an investigation led by Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office since 2019, presents the social media posts shared on Etkin News Agency’s (ETHA) accounts during the time Okatan was the editor-in-chief as evidence against the journalist. The concerned posts include the news reports on the military operation conducted by Turkish Armed Forces and Free Syrian Army in and around Efrin, in 2018 and the reactions to the operation. The prosecutor demands imprisonment for Okatan up to 8 years and 9 months.

October 14 Thursday

  • The seventh hearing of the trial where journalist Hayko Bağdat whom MLSA represents in court, faces “terror propaganda” charges will be held at İstanbul 28th High Criminal Court this week. The indictment presents nine social media posts from 2017 and 2018 as evidence against Bağdat. Social media posts that are used as evidence against Bağdat include retweeting a photo of Osman Kavala and retweeting an interview with the PKK leader Cemil Bayık. Germany has refused Turkey’s request of letters rogatory in Hayko Bağdat’s case saying it would violate freedom of speech.
  • The tenth hearing of the trial where Kurdish newspaper Xwebun columnist and Kurdish linguist Mehmet Şahin faces “founding and managing a terrorist organization” charges for his activities within Democratic Society Congress (DTK) will be held at Diyarbakır 5th High Criminal Court this week.
  • The second hearing of the trial where Mesopotamia News Agency reporter Mehmet Aslan faces “membership in a terrorist organization” will be held at İstanbul 24th High Criminal Court this week. Aslan was arrested on January 8, 2021 in Antalya based on an investigation launched by the Antalya Chief Prosecutor’s Office. The indictment against the journalist was initially returned to the prosecutor’s office by an Antalya court due to lack of jurisdiction. An Istanbul court later accepted the indictment. Aslan was held in pre-trial detention for over 5 months and was released at the first hearing held on May 26, 2021.
  • The fourth hearing of the trial where a street  artist with the pseudonym İzinsiz faces “insulting the president” and “publicly degrading the Turkish national flag” charges will be held at İstanbul 20th Criminal Court of First Instance this week. The artist is on trial for the mural interventions made to the panels of Devrim Erbil paintings that were used to enclose the Kabataş port construction site.
  • The fourth 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 Turkish Liras 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.” At the last hearing on June 17, the Court decided to wait for the finalization of the acquittal ruling passed in the criminal lawsuit concerning the same news report.
  • The fourth hearing of the trial where 31 people including journalist Sonya Bayık face  “defying the Law on Assemblies and Demonstrations no. 2911” charges will be held at Batman 1st Criminal Court of First Instance this week. Bayık was detained in 2019 while following an event at Hasankeyf and was subsequently released. The indictment also refers to the decision taken by Hasankeyf District Governorship on July 12, 2019 which effectively banned all protests, meetings and similar activities within the district at that time.