This week, the hearings of several journalism and freedom of expression trials will be held. Below is the list of these hearings:
7 September Tuesday
- The third hearing of the trial where journalist Dindar Karataş faces “membership in a terrorist organization” charge will be held at Erzurum 3rd High Criminal Court this week. 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 twelfth hearing of the trial where since shuttered Dicle News Agency’s former reporter Selman Keleş faces “membership in a terrorist organization” charge will be held at Van 5th High Criminal Court this week. The indictment presents the pictures taken by the reporter as “crime elements” claiming that they were taken for the purposes of “exploration for the terrorist organization”. Keleş was arrested alongside journalist Arif Aslan on 30 March 2017 while taking photos near Van Municipality building as terror suspects and they were released after eight months in prison at the first hearing of their trial, which was held on 21 November 2017. Keleş and Aslan were tried together until the eighth hearing which was held on Sept 3, 2020 and in which Keleş’s file was separated.
- The fifth hearing of the trial where 28 people including Jiyan Haber’s proprietor journalist İdris Yayla will be held at Batman 1st Criminal Court of First Instance this week. 27 people and Yayla who was following the press statement in 2016 which renounced the trustee appointed to Batman Municipality face the charge of “defying the Law on Assemblies and Demonstrations no. 2911” The former MP Sebahat Tuncel is also among those who are tried.
9 September Thursday
- The first hearing where author Yavuz Ekinci faces “making terrorist propaganda” charges will be held at Istanbul 34th High Criminal Court this week. The indictment presents Ekinci’s social media posts which he shared between 2013-2014 as evidence to the charges.The posts in question are about Diyarbakır Newroz celebrations and support to Kobani.
- The twelfth hearing of the trial where Azadiya Welat and Özgürlükçü Demokrasi newspapers’ distributors Mikail Tunçdemir and Ferhat Duman face “membership in a terrorist organization” charges will be held at Van 5th High Criminal Court this week. Tunçdemir and Duman stand trial due to news reports published in 2018 in the papers they distributed.
- The fourth hearing of the trial where former Die Welt Turkey correspondent Deniz Yücel, whom MLSA represents in court, faces “insulting a public official” charge will be held at İstanbul 24th Criminal Court of First Instance. The indictment presents a tweet Yücel posted on Feb 20, 2019 and which was about the prosecutor who prosecuted Yücel but was also leading the investigation on Osman Kavala as evidence to the charges.
- The second hearing of the retrial of since shuttered Zaman newspaper columnists Şahin Alpay, Ali Bulaç, Mümtaz’er Türköne and editor Mehmet Özdemir will be held at İstanbul 13th High Criminal Court this week. The Court of Cassation’s 16th Penal Chamber completed its appellate review of the Zaman newspaper case and overturned the convictions of Alpay, Bulaç and Türköne, ruling that their actions do not constitute “membership in a terrorist organization” and that they should be tried for “aiding and abetting a terrorist organization without being a member” charge. The court also overturned the acquittal decision for editor Özdemir, ruling that his actions constitute “membership in a terrorist organization” and therefore should be tried for this charge.
- The hearings of three separate trials where journalist and former President Abdullah Gül’s press advisor Ahmet Sever faces various charges for his 2018 book İçimde Kalmasın/Tanıklığımdır will be held at İstanbul 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance. The charges Sever faces: “insulting the President” per President Erdoğan’s complaint; “insulting a public officer” per AKP Tekirdağ MP and the Speaker of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey Mustafa Şentop’s complaint; “insulting a public officer” per the Minister of Industry and Technology Mustafa Varank’s complaint.
- The ninth hearing of the trial where since shuttered TV10’s former cameraman Kemal Demir and TV10 employee Kemal Karagöz face “aiding and abetting a terrorist organization without being a member” charges will be held at Istanbul 28th High Criminal Court. In the indictment, it is claimed that Demir and Karagöz were “acquiring equipment to set up a television for PKK/KCK terrorist organization” and purchase records are presented as evidence to this claim. At the hearing which was held on February 9,2019, Demir was released from prison after a detention period of over a year. The court has yet to lift the international ban imposed on Demir and Karagöz.
10 September Friday
- The fifth hearing of the trial where journalist Aziz Oruç, whom MLSA represents in court, faces “membership in a terrorist organization” and “terrorist propaganda” charges will be held at the Ağrı 2nd High Criminal Court this week. Oruç was arrested on December 18, 2019 in Ağrı’s Doğubayazıt Province on the grounds that he entered the country in an illegal manner. Oruç remained in pre-trial detention for 11 months until being released pending trial during the third hearing which was held on November 9, 2020.