This week, the hearings of several journalism and freedom of expression trials will be held. Below is the list of these hearings:
June 7th, Tuesday
- The fourth hearing of the trial in which journalist Cihan Ölmez faces “making propaganda for a terrorist organization” charge will be held in the Diyarbakır 5th High Criminal Court, at 11:40. Journalist Ölmez was in Cizre at the time when a city-wide curfew was in place and gave interviews on the grave human rights violations in the region during the curfew. The indictment presents the news reports which contained his statements on human rights violations during the curfew and which he also had shared on his social media accounts back in 2016, as evidence against the journalist. The indictment also defines media outlets such as Evrensel daily and bianet as “so-called media outlets” and claims that they “support PKK/KCK.”
- The third hearing of the trial in which journalists Olcay Büyüktaş Akça, Ozan Alper Yurtoğlu, Serkan Ozan and Hazal Ocak face “insult by means of an oral, written or visual medium message” charge upon complaint by Bilal Erdoğan will be held in the İstanbul 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance, at 13:30. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s son Bilal Erdoğan filed a criminal complaint against journalists after a news story penned by Ocak titled “Burak and Bilal Erdoğan’s friend Başçı won 5 public tenders worth 26,4 million Turkish liras: The friend is tenders rich” was published in Cumhuriyet daily on January 31, 2021. In the indictment, it is claimed that the expressions in the report like “Bilal Erdoğan’s lucky friend”, “the friend is tenders rich” and the displaying Bilal Erdoğan’s photos in the report can be considered to constitute insult and libel. Presenting his final opinion as to the accusations in the hearing held on February 8th, the prosecutor claimed that journalists “publicly insulted the complainant in a consecutive manner” and requested that they be sentenced to prison for up to 4 years.
- The eighth hearing of the trial in which 9 people face “defying the Law no. 2911 on Demonstrations and Assemblies” charge will be held in the İstanbul 22nd Criminal Court of First Instance, at 14:30. One of the defendants has been additionally charged with “prevention of public duty.” The testimony of a police officer who claims that the defendant “bit his finger” and a medical report are cited as evidence for this additional charge. Presenting his final opinion as to the accusations in the hearing held on April 7th, the prosecutor requested that the defendants be sentenced for “attending unlawful assemblies and marches unarmed and failing to disperse after being warned.” The prosecutor also requested that one defendant be additionally sentenced for “prevention of public duty.” At the same hearing, it was also revealed that the expert’s report submitted to the case file was prepared by the police.
June 9th, Thursday
- The fourth hearing of the trial in which 7 women and LGBTİ+, including journalist Şehriban Alkış face “defying the Law no. 2911 on Demonstrations and Assemblies”, “preventing the activities of a public institution” and “damage to public property” charges will be held in the İstanbul 23rd Criminal Court of First Instance, at 09:35. The seven people were taken into police custody by being battered after they hung up a banner on the İstanbul Provincial Directorate of the Ministry of Family Labor in order to protest the government’s decision to withdraw from the İstanbul Convention. The prosecutor who cites the slogans about “women’s rights and femicide” as evidence also claims that the defendants damaged a public property as they “broka a decorative vase.”
- The 25th hearing of the “KCK Press trial” where 46 journalists including Dilek Demiral whom MLSA represents in court, face terror-related charges will take place in the İstanbul 3rd High Criminal Court, at 11:35. 32 journalists out of the 46 who were taken into custody on December 20, 2011 were arrested on December 24 as part of an operation towards Kurdish media including Dicle News Agency, Özgür Gündem, Azadiya Welat, Demokratik Modernite and Fırat Distribution Inc. The indictment presents interviews, photos, press briefs that the journalists attended, correspondence with news resources and many other journalistic activities as evidence against the journalists. The trial has been going on for the past 10 years.