Upcoming Trials

Journalism and freedom of expression trials: Week of January 10

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

10 January Monday

  • The third hearing of the trial where 97 Boğaziçi University students who protested against the appointment of Melih Bulu to Boğaziçi University,  face “defying the Law no. 2911 on Assemblies and Demonstrations” charge will be held at İstanbul 32nd Criminal Court of First Instance, at 10:00. The 75 pages long indictment cites banners, flags and brochures the students carried during the protest and some social media posts tagged #bundansonrasıbizde as evidence against the students.

11 January Tuesday

  • The first hearing of the trial where journalist İskender Kahraman faces “making propaganda for a terrorist organization” charge will be held at Hakkari 2nd High Criminal Court, at 10:00. The indictment presents the social media posts which Kahraman had shared during military operations in 2018 known as “Operation Olive Branch” and in which he criticized the operations and several articles he had penned and were published in various websites as evidence against the journalist.
  • The 13th 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, at 10:05. 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 12th hearing of the trial where 15 people including journalists Eylem Sonbahar and Sema Karakurt whom MLSA represents in court face “defying the Law no. 2911 on Assemblies and Demonstrations” charge will be held at Antalya 7th Criminal Court of First Instance, at 10:10. The indictment presents 15 people’s attendance at the G20 protests on November 15, 2015, including journalists Sonbahar and Karakurt who were covering the event as evidence against the defendants.
  • The 15th hearing of the trial where journalist Rüstem Batum whom MLSA represents in court, faces “insulting the president” charge will be held at İstanbul 41st 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.
  • The second hearing of the trial where author Yavuz Ekinci faces “making propaganda for a terrorist organization” charge will be held at Istanbul 34th High Criminal Court, at 11:00. The indictment presents Ekinci’s social media posts which he shared between 2013-2014 as evidence against the author.The posts in question are about Diyarbakır Newroz celebrations and support to Kobani.
  • The seventh hearing of the trial where journalists Sadık Topaloğlu and Sadiye Eser face “membership in a terrorist organization” charge will be held at İstanbul 22nd High Criminal Court, at 11.00. 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 MA’s office and were arrested on Dec 3, 2019. Journalists were released during the first hearing held on Mar 26, 2020.
  • The first hearing of the retrial where journalist Barış Barıştıran faces “making propaganda for a terrorist organization” charge will be held at Diyarbakır 8th High Criminal Court, at 11:10. Barıştıran, who stood trial for live streaming the Democratic Society Congress, was acquitted. The prosecution appealed the acquittal decision on the grounds that Barıştıran should have been sentenced in line with his opinion and took the case to a court of appeals. Diyarbakır Regional Court of Appeals overturned the acquittal decision on September 10, 2021.
  • The third 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, at 14:00. 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.

12 January Wednesday

  • The eighth hearing of the trial where journalist Ruken Demir faces “membership in a terrorist organization” charge will be held at İzmir 19th High Criminal Court, at 10:20. The indictment presents Demir’s attendance to events which she was following as a reporter and the phone conversations with her sources as evidence against her.
  • The eighth hearing of the trial where journalist Ziya Çiçekçi faces “making propaganda for a terrorist organization” charge will be held at İstanbul 33rd High Criminal Court, at 11:35. The indictment presents 13 tweets which were shared on the Twitter account of Yeni Özgür Politika daily as evidence against the journalist.

13 January Thursday

  • The fifth 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. At the last hearing on October 14, 2021, the court’s decided that a committee of experts be formed so that the art value of the works of İzinsiz could be determined.
  • The fifth hearing of the trial where journalist Rojda Oğuz faces “membership in a terrorist organization” and “making propaganda for a terrorist organization” charges will be held at Van 5th High Criminal Court, at 10:10 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.