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Journalism and freedom of expression trials: Week of April 25

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

April 25th, Monday

  • The sentencing hearing of the Gezi Case in which 17 people, including Osman Kavala, Can Dündar and Mehmet Ali Alabora face “attempt to abolish, replace or prevent the implementation of, through force and violence, the constitutional order of the republic of Turkey”, “damage to property”, “possession or exchange of hazardous substances without permission”, “damaging places of worship and cemeteries”, “qualified looting”, “qualified bodily injury” and “defying the Law no. 2863 on the Conservation of Cultural and Natural Property” charges will be held in the İstanbul 13th High Criminal Court, at 10:00. The “Gezi Case” held at the Istanbul 30th High Criminal Court  was merged with the “Çarşı Case” four days before the hearing scheduled for 6 August 2021. After being tried with 35 defendants of the Çarşı case for five hearings, on February 21st, 2022, the court decided to separate the case files of the 17 Gezi case defendants once again. The prosecutor Edip Şahiner who submitted his final opinion as to accusations on March 4th, 2022 requested aggravated life sentences for Osman Kavala and Ayşe Mücella Yapıcı for “attempting to abolish, replace or prevent the implementation of, through force and violence, the constitutional order of the republic of Turkey.”
  • The second hearing of the trial in which the Secretary of the Diyarbakır Provincial Coordination Board of the Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects (TMMOB) Doğan Hatun faces “publicly degrading the Turkish nation, state government and the state’s judicial bodies” charge will be held in the Diyarbakır 8th Criminal Court of First Instance, at 10:20. The indictment presents the July 14th 2020 press statement made in front of the Diyarbakır building of the General Directorate of Highways after it was announced that the remaining zones within the premises of the 9th Regional Directorate of Highways, which was already partly consigned to the Directorate of Religious Affairs for the construction of a mosque and its campus, will be opened for further development.

April 26th, Tuesday

  • The second hearing of the trial in which journalist Can Selman and 15 LGBTİ+ rights defenders who were taken into police custody during the first Eskişehir Pride March on June 30th, 2021, face “defying the Law no. 2911 on Assemblies and Demonstrations” charge will be held in the Eskişehir 8th Criminal Court of First Instance, at 11:30. The indictment presents the June 30th demonstration ban by the Eskişehir Governorship, the slogans chanted and the banners carried during the march as evidence against the rights defenders. The prosecutor also claims that someone tipped off the police via the 112 Emergency Line that “there will be molotov cocktails thrown at the police and the shopkeepers during the march.”

April 27th, Wednesday

  • The ninth hearing of the trial in which 38 people including journalists Mustafa Sönmez, Sedef Kabaş, Merdan Yanardağ and Bloomberg Business reporters Kerim Karakaya and Fercan Yalınkılıç face “defying Capital Market Law no. 6362” charge will be held in the 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.”

April 28th, Thursday

  • The 15th hearing of the trial in which Azadiya Welat and Özgürlükçü Demokrasi newspapers’ distributors Mikail Tunçdemir and Ferhat Duman face “making propaganda for a terrorist organization” and “willingly and knowingly aiding and abetting a terrorist organization” charges will be held in the Van 5th High Criminal Court, at 09:45. Tunçdemir and Duman stand trial due to news reports published in 2018 in the papers which they distributed.
  • The third hearing of the trial in which 35 people including journalist Buse Söğütlü who had attended the “March 8th Feminist Night March” in 2020, face “defying the Law on Assemblies and Demonstrations no. 2911”, “prevention of public duty” and “damage to public property” charges will be held in the İstanbul 58th Criminal Court of First Instance, at 10:00. At the first hearing, the court’s decided to send a copy of the indictment to the İstanbul Financial Office of the Ministry of Treasury and Finance on the grounds that it might be harmed by the crime committed. It caused a public reaction when the judge said “Men are getting killed too. Should we protest as well?, at the second hearing hearing of the trial held on December 30th, 2021.
  • The first hearing of the trial in which journalist Metin Cihan faces “insult by means of an oral, written or visual medium message” charge upon complaint by Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s son-in-law Berat Albayrak will be held in the İstanbul 36th Criminal Court of First Instance, at 10:20. The indictment presents a tweet Cihan had shared on his personal account on April 30th, 2020. In his one-page indictment, the prosecutor emphasizes that Albayrak was the Minister of Treasury and Finance at the time and Cihan had insulted him “because of his duties as a public official.”

April 29th, Friday

  • The seventh hearing of the trial in which exiled artist Ferhat Tunç faces “making propaganda for a terrorist organization” charge will be held in the İstanbul 37th High Criminal Court, at 11:55. The indictment presents eight tweets which Tunç had shared on his personal account and in which he criticized the Turkish army’s “Olive Branch operation” in Afrin, Syria as evidence against him.