Upcoming Trials

Journalism and freedom of expression trials: Week of March 21

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

March 21st, Monday

  • The second hearing of the trial where 14 Boğaziçi University students face “defying the Law on Assemblies and Demonstrations no. 2911”, “deprivation of liberty” and “hijacking or seizure of transport vehicles” charges will be held in the İstanbul 22nd Criminal Court of First Instance, at 09:30. The students were detained on October 4th while protesting against the appointment of yet another rector to their universities. Two of the students, Caner Perit Özen and Ersin Berke Gök, were arrested on October 6th. Mehmet Naci İnci who was appointed as the rector after Melih Bulu, is listed as the injured party in the indictment while three security guards are listed as the complainants. One of the security guards was also heard as a witness in the trial, where seven Boğaziçi University students face “inciting the public to hatred and hostility” charges because of a protest exhibition organized against the appointment of Melih Bulu as the rector. On January 7th, Caner Perit Özen and Ersin Berke Gök were released after 94 days at the first hearing of the trial.
  • The seventh hearing of the “Gezi Case” where 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.”

March 22nd, Tuesday

  • The third hearing of the retrial where newspaper distributors Veysi Altın and Ercan Yeltaş face “making propaganda for a terrorist organization” charge will be held in the Diyarbakır 5th High Criminal Court, at 09:50. The Diyarbakır Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office had indicted Veysi Altın and Ercan Yeltaş along with another newspaper distributor for disseminating terrorist propaganda in 2018. The indictment was accepted by Diyarbakır 5th High Criminal Court. In the indictment, news reports in a newspaper called “Rojava Medya” and which were found by the police among the newspapers sold by Altın, were presented as evidence against the distributors. Diyarbakır 5th High Criminal Court acquitted the distributors of all charges, stating that the crimes which the defendants were alleged with had no legal basis. After the prosecution appealed the acquittal ruling, the 3rd Penal Chamber of Gaziantep Circuit Court of Appeal reviewed the case. The appeals court overturned the acquittal decisions for Altın and Yeltaş and sent the case file back to the local court for retrial.
  • The first hearing of the trial where actor İlyas Salman faces “publicly degrading the Turkish nation, the Turkish state, the government and the state’s judicial bodies” charge will be held in the Anadolu 54th Criminal Court of First Instance, at 10:20. The indictment presents the statements of Salman in an interview as evidence against the actor. In the interview, commenting on a fellow actor’s acceptance of an award by Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Salman stated that he would never accept an award from Erdoğan and said that “He got his award with the votes of these mindless people.” After the interview, Salman was targeted by the mainstream media and was accused of “insulting the nation.”

March 23rd, Wednesday

  • The fourth hearing of the trial where Koray Çağlayan, Volkan Uyar, Leman Yurtsever, Levent Gökçek, Lezgin Özalp, Maside Ocak, Mehmet Günel, Muhammed Emin Ekinci, Ayça Çevik, Besna Koç, Cafer Balcı, Can Danyal Aktaş, Cihan Oral Gülünay, Cüneyt Yılmaz, Deniz Koç, Ercan Süslü, Ezgi Çevik, Faruk Eren, Fecri Çalboğa, Ferhat Ergen, Gamze Elvan, Hakan Koç, Hasan Akbaba, Hasan Karakoç, Jiyan Tosun, Kenan Yıldızerler, Murat Akbaş, Rober Koptaş, Onur Yanardağ, Osman Akın, Özer Oymak, Özge Elvan, Ramazan Bayram, Rüşa Sabur, Sadettin Köse, Adil Can Ocak, Ahmet Karaca, Ahmet Süleyman Benli, Ali Ocak, Ali Yiğit Karaca, Atakan Taşbilek, Ataman Doğa Kıroğlu, Saime Sebla Arcan, Sinan Arslan, Ulaş Bedri Çelik and Koray Kesik whom MLSA represents in the court, face “defying the Law on Assemblies and Demonstrations no. 2911” charge will be held in the  İstanbul 21st Criminal Court of First Instance, at 13:30. The 46 defendants who were detained when the police attacked Saturday Mothers/People’s 700th Week meeting at Istanbul’s Galatasaray Square include members of the Saturday Mothers/People, human rights defenders and journalists who were reporting on the meeting.

March 24th, Thursday

  • The 19th hearing of the trial where journalist Can Dündar and since shuttered Özgür Gündem newspaper’s former Editor-in-Chief İnan Kızılkaya face “insulting a public official” charge will be held in the İstanbul 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance, at 10:15. Dündar had participated in the “Editors-in-Chief on Watch” campaign launched in solidarity with Özgür Gündem in 2016. The indictment was prepared after judge Bekir Altun’s complaint, who claimed that the news report titled “The regime’s most useful judge,” which was published on 22 June 2016 – the day when Dündar appeared as the Editor-in-Chief of Özgür Gündem for solidarity – violates his personal rights. 
  • The 17th hearing of the trial where Etkin News Agency (ETHA) editor Semiha Şahin and reporter Pınar Gayıp face “membership in a terrorist organization” and “making terrorist propaganda” charges will be held in the İstanbul 23rd High Criminal Court, at 10:55. Şahin and Gayıp were released with judicial control measures and house arrest following a 14-month detainment during the previous hearing, which was held on June 13, 2019. Their house arrest was ended during the hearing held on December 11, 2019.
  • The second hearing of the trial where journalist Rüstem Batum whom MLSA represents in court, faces “insulting the president” charge will be held in the İstanbul 12th Criminal Court of First Instance, at 11:15. The indictment, which was prepared in 2021 presents five 2018 tweets which were included in an “open source investigation report” prepared by the Gaziantep Security Directorate on May 8th, 2018.
  • The eighth hearing of the trial where journalists Ersin Çaksu and Aziz Oruç whom MLSA represents in court, face “degrading the Turkish nation, the state of Turkish Republic, the government, the judicial bodies of the State, the military and security organisations” charge will be held in the İstanbul 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance, at 12:10. Journalists Oruç and Çaksu were tried alongside Selman Keleş, Özgür Paksoy, Kenan Kırkaya and İshak Yasul in this case. The other four defendants were each sentenced to five months in prison per “denigrating the Turkish nation” charges, their sentences were suspended. However, Oruç and Çaksu’s files were separated since their testimonies could not be taken at the time. 
  • The 20th hearing of the trial where the former Dicle News Agency (DİHA) reporter Şerife Oruç faces “membership in a terrorist organization” charge will be held in the Batman 2nd High Criminal Court, at 14:20. Oruç and two others were detained by police while reporting in the field. Oruç was arrested on July 5, 2016, on accusations of “membership of a terrorist organization”. After two years in detention in the Batman M-type prison,Oruç was released on July 9, 2018 but detained immediately at the prison gate because of an arrest warrant issued for her. She was later released on July 10, 2018. The secret witness who had testified against Oruç and whose statement led to Oruç’s arrest cannot be heard for the past four hearings as he could not be found.