Upcoming Trials

Journalism and freedom of expression trials: Week of May 23

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

May 24th, Tuesday

  • The third hearing of the trial in which poet and author Yılmaz Odabaşı faces “provoking the public to hatred and hostility” and “publicly degrading a section of the public on grounds of social class, race,religion, sect, gender or regional differences” charges will be held in the Alanya 6th Criminal Court of First Instance, at 09:00. The indictment presents a tweet Odabaşı had shared on his personal account and in which he criticized the state of the health system in Turkey and the influence of religious sects in the system as evidence against the poet. On May 12th, at the second hearing of the trial, the prosecutor presented his final opinion on the merits. The prosecutor requested that Odabaşı be acquitted of “provoking the public to hatred and hostility” on the grounds that there is no sufficient and concrete evidence that there is an imminent and obvious threat to the public security. However, the prosecutor requested that Odabaşı be sentenced for “publicly degrading a section of the public on grounds of social class, race,religion, sect, gender or regional differences.”
  • The third hearing of the trial in which Birgün daily Sports Editor Eren Tutel faces “insulting a public official” charge will be held in the Istanbul 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance, at 09:55. The case was brought against Tutel who reported on the scandals at Turkey Wushu Federation (TWF) upon the complaint of TWF Deputy Chairman Abdurrahman Akyüz and his daughter Elif Akyüz. The prosecution demands up to two years imprisonment for Tutel. At the first hearing on September 30, the court accepted the intervention requests by Abdurrahman Akyüz and Elif Akyüz arguing that “they might have been harmed by the crime committed.” At the second hearing held on February 1st, Abdurrahman Akyüz and Elif Akyüz’s lawyer requested that Tutel’s lawyer’s request for additional time be rejected and Tutel be sentenced immediately.
  • The third hearing of the retrial in which journalist Barış Barıştıran faces “making propaganda for a terrorist organization” charge will be held in the Diyarbakır 8th High Criminal Court, at 10:00. 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 fifth hearing of the retrial in which since-shuttered Özgür Gündem’s Editor-in-Chief Eren Keskin and Managing Editor Reyhan Çapan faces “defying the Press Law no. 5187” charge will be held in the İstanbul 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance, at 13:30. In five separate indictments prepared against Keskin and Çapan, five different news stories published in Özgür Gündem in 2013 and 2014 are cited as evidence against them. The prosecutors claim that the news stories about 14 years old Berkin Elvan who was killed by the police during the Gezi Park protests, were publications which “disclose[d] the identities of victims or perpetrators of crimes under the age of 18.”

May 26th, Thursday

  • The sixth hearing of the trial in which guerilla artist İzinsiz faces “insulting the president” and “publicly degrading the Turkish national flag” charges will be held in the İstanbul 20th Criminal Court of First Instance. 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 fourth hearing on October 14, 2021, the court decided that a committee of experts be formed so that the artistic value of the works of İzinsiz could be determined. At the fifth hearing of the trial held on January 13, 2022, the Mimar Sinan University of Fine Arts notified the court that they do not have any experts who could determine the artistic value of İzinsiz’s work. The court decided that an expert committee be formed of three experts chosen from the experts list of the Ministry of Justice.
  • The 18th hearing of the trial in which Etkin News Agency (ETHA) editor Semiha Şahin and reporter Pınar Gayıp face “membership of a terrorist organization” and “making propaganda for a terrorist organization” charges will be held in the İstanbul 23rd High Criminal Court, at 10:00. 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. Before the hearing on March 24th, the prosecutor submitted his final opinion on the merits which was not served to the journalists’ lawyers. Defining ETHA as an agency which “publishes in line with the opinions and the ideology of the MLKP terrorist organization”, the prosecutor requested that Şahin and Gayıp be sentenced for “membership of a terrorist organization” and “making propaganda for a terrorist organization.”
  • The first hearing of the retrial in which journalist Ertuğrul Mavioğlu and director Çayan Demirel face “making propaganda for an armed terrorist organization” charge will be held in the Batman 2nd High Criminal Court, at 10:00. Mavioğlu and Demirel stood trial because of their documentary Bakur (North) which they had produced in 2015 while the Solution Process was still going on. They were accused of producing a documentary which is claimed to “legitimize or praise the violent, forceful or threatening methods of the terrorist organization or incentivize others to resort to such methods.” Announcing its verdict on July 18, 2019, the Batman 2nd High Criminal Court sentenced Mavioğlu and Demirel to 4 years and 6 months in prison. After Mavioğlu and Demirel’s lawyers appealed the verdict, the 4th Penal Chamber of the Gaziantep Regional Court of Appeals overturned their conviction. The appeals court reasoned that the legal connection between the case file and the case file in which Mavioğlu was convicted of the same charge and which stands before the Court of Cassation should be evaluated. The appeals court also ruled that the sentence handed down by the Batman 2nd High Criminal Court was too high and that the local court did not consider the factors which would call for a reduction in their sentences.
  • The fourth hearing of the trial in which author, journalist Burhan Ekinci whom MLSA represents in court, faces “making propaganda for a terrorist organization” charge will be held in İstanbul 30th High Criminal Court, at 10:20. The indictment presents seven tweets which Ekinci had shared on his personal account and which the police “detected” during an “open source investigation” after Ekinci was reported to the police as evidence against the journalist. The hearing which was scheduled to be held on January 25, 2022 was postponed as judges and prosecutors were considered on administrative leave due to adverse weather conditions.
  • The 14th hearing of the trial in which Vice News reporters Philip John Pendlebury and Jacob Philip John Gingell (Jake) Hanrahan along with their translator and fixer face “membership of a terrorist organization by willingly and knowingly aiding and abetting the organization”, “making propaganda for a terrorist organization”, and “opposing the Law on the Prevention of Financing of Terrorism” charges will be held in the Diyarbakır 8th High Criminal Court, at 10:20. Pendlebury and Hanrahan came to Diyarbakır in August to document the events in Cizre, Silopi, Nusaybin and Sur where a curfew had been imposed. The reporters were arrested in Diyarbakır in August 2015 and were subsequently deported.

May 27th, Friday

  • The second hearing of the trial in which the Keçiören District President of the SOL Party Murat Güzel faces “making propaganda for a terrorist organization” charge will be held in the Ankara 27th High Criminal Court, at 10:15. The indictment in which a legally operating political party, Birleşik Devrimci Parti [United Revolutionary Party] and a high school students’ movement, Dev-Lis are listed under “terrorist organizations”, presents five social media posts Güzel had shared on his personal account as evidence against him. The social media posts in question include a retweet of the photo of Hıdır Aslan, the last person in Turkey who was sentenced to death and was executed by hanging. In the indictment, it is not clarified how the social media posts in question were detected.