This week, the hearings of several journalism and freedom of expression trials will be held. Below is the list of these hearings:
November 14th, Monday
The fifth hearing of the trial in which 14 Boğaziçi University students face “defying the Law no. 2911 on Assemblies and Demonstrations”, “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 and were held in pre-trial detention until the first hearing of the trial held on January 7th. 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. The third hearing of the trial, which was supposed to be held on March 23rd was adjourned because the judge left the courtroom. On 27 June 2022, at the fourth hearing of the trial, the judge refused to let lawyer Ömer Kavili into the courtroom and had the doors of the courtroom locked. At the previous hearing, lawyer Kavili had been removed from the courtroom. At the fourth hearing of the trial, the judge also decided to remove the judicial control measures imposed upon the students.
November 15th, Tuesday
The fifth hearing of the trial in which the former Diyarbakır MP and the Group Deputy Chairperson of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Çağlar Demirel faces “degrading the Turkish Nation, the state of Turkish Republic, the organs and institutions of the state” charge will be held in the Diyarbakır 4th Criminal Court of First Instance, at 09.05. In the indictment, the prosecutor presents the remarks in the speeches Demirel had delivered as a MP on 29 May 2016, 1 July 2016 and 5 November 2016 as evidence for the charge. Arguing that Demirel committed the offense she has been charged with “in a consecutive manner”, the prosecutor requests that the sentence that is to be imposed upon Demirel be increased as per Article 43 of Turkish Penal Code. On 27 September 2022, at the fourth hearing of the trial, the prosecutor presented his final opinion as to the accusations. Citing some remarks Demirel had made during her speech on 5 November 2016, the prosecutor requested that Demirel be sentenced as per Article 301/1 of the Turkish Penal Code. In his final opinion, the prosecutor also requested that the case against Demirel in connection with her 29 May 2016 and 1 July 2016 speeches be dropped on the grounds that Demirel was already tried in a separate case for these speeches and that case has already been adjudicated.
The 13th hearing of the retrial in which since-shuttered Dicle News Agency’s former reporter Ramazan Akoğul faces “membership in a terrorist organization” charge will be held in Diyarbakır 4th High Criminal Court, at 09.30. Even though Akoğul was initially acquitted of all charges in 2018, an appeals court overturned his acquittal and sent the case file back to the local court for retrial. Akoğul is accused of attending a road-blocking demonstration which he covered as a reporter. The prosecution had appealed to the acquittal decision, claiming that the fact that the demonstrators did not intervene with Akoğul shows that he has some “trust relationship” with “the organization members” and thus he should be sentenced for “membership in a terrorist organization.”
The 20th hearing of the trial in which journalist Abdullah Kaya whom MLSA represents in court, faces “membership in a terrorist organization” and “making propaganda for a terrorist organization” charges will be held in the Ağrı 2nd High Criminal Court, at 09.40. In the indictment, the footage Kaya had recorded at events he had covered in 2014-2015, social media posts he had shared on his personal account and anonymous witness statements are presented as evidence against the journalist. In addition to these, the prosecutor presents a photograph of Kaya which was taken at a Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) event as evidence for the membership charge.
The second hearing of the retrial of Evrensel daily’s former managing editor Çağrı Sarı and the daily’s former proprietor Arif Koşar face “ publicly degrading the military or security organizations of the state” charge will be held in the istanbul 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance, at 10.40. In 2017, Sarı and Koşar were sentenced to 5 months in prison because of a news article titled “Polis Nusaybin’de halkı taradı: 3 yaralı [The police fired into the crowd in Nusaybin: 3 wounded]” which was published in the daily on March 15, 2016. After Sarı and Koşar’s lawyer appealed the conviction, the 3rd Penal Chamber of the Court of Cassation reviewed the case file. The Court of Cassation ruled that Sarı and Koşar should have been acquitted as the elements of the alleged offense did not occur and sent the case file back to the local court for retrial. The first hearing of the trial held on 28 June 2022 was adjourned as the Court of Cassation’s remitter was not served to Arif Koşar.
The 25th hearing of the trial in which since shuttered Özgür Gündem daily’s former Co-Editor-in-Chief Hüseyin Aykol, former Managing Editor Reyhan Çapan and columnists Hasan Başak and Kemal Yakut face “making propaganda for a terrorist organization,” “provoking to commit an offense” and “praising an offense and an offender” charges will be held in the İstanbul 13th High Criminal Court, at 11.00. The indictment presents the news reports and articles in March 2016 in Özgür Gündem about “self-governance” in Kurdish provinces.
November 16th, Wednesday
The 33rd hearing of the trial in which 32 people, including since-shuttered Dicle News Agency (DİHA) reporter Engin Eren face “membership in a terrorist organization”, “defying the Law no. 2911 on Assemblies and Demonstrations” and “defying the Law no. 2565 Military Restricted Zones and Security Zones” charges will be held in the Batman 2nd High Criminal Court, at 13.30. Engin was detained in 2015 while he was following “the human shield protest” organized by civil society organizations and Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in Batman to stop the fight between PKK and the Turkish Armed Forces. The prosecutor presented his final opinion at the 30th hearing of the trial held on June 3, 2022. The prosecutor requested that 29 people, including Engin Eren be sentenced for “being a member of an armed organization by committing an offense on behalf of the organization”, “prevention of public duty”, “defying the Law no. 2911 on Assemblies and Demonstrations” and “defying the Law no. 2565 Military Restricted Zones and Security Zones.”
November 17th, Thursday
The fourth 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 09.45. 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 30th, 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. On 24 May 2022, at the third hearing of the trial, the court decided to send the case file to the prosecution so that the final opinion as to the accusations can be prepared.
The fourth hearing of the trial in which Jin News reporter Beritan Canözer faces “making propaganda for a terrorist organization” charge will be held in the Diyarbakır 4th High Criminal Court, at 10.30. In the indictment, 19 social media posts from four different accounts are presented as evidence against journalist Canözer. The prosecutor puts forward eight social media posts shared between 2014 and 2015 which were gathered in a 2019 “investigation report” and eleven posts from three different accounts as ground for his request for the imprisonment of journalist Canözer claiming that she “committed the offense in a consecutive manner.” On August 13, 2021, Canözer was taken into custody when her house was raided by the police. Canözer was released after having been held for four days in custody. In her statement at the police station, Canözer rejected the claim that the social media account which was later also included in the indictment, belongs to her and she stated that she was asked about it when she was detained before. In the indictment, however, the prosecutor asks the court not to take into account the statements of Canözer on the grounds that “they are statements made with the intent to “get away with the crime.” On October 12, 2021, the Diyarbakır Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office decided not to prosecute Canözer for the same charge on the grounds that there are no “enough and qualified evidence” showing that the social media account “Beritan Sarya” which is included in the indictment, belong to journalist Canözer. On March 31st, at the first hearing of the trial, the court decided to ask for the files of previous cases against Canözer. On June 21 2022, at the second hearing of the trial, the court decided to wait for the appeals court’s decision on another case in which Canözer was tried. On 13 October 2022, at the third hearing of the trial, the prosecutor presented his final opinion as to the accusations and requested that Canözer be sentenced. Arguing that Canözer committed the offense she has been charged with “in a consecutive manner”, the prosecutor requested that the sentence that is to be imposed upon Canözer be increased as per Article 43 of the Turkish Penal Code. However, in his final opinion which was comprised of nine lines, the prosecutor ignored the defense of journalist Canözer and failed to specify which social media posts constituted the offense of “making propaganda for a terrorist organization.”
The hearing of the trial in which four activists, including Etkin News Agency (ETHA) reporter Elif Bayburt face “defying the Law no. 2911 on Demonstrations and Assemblies” charge will be held in the İstanbul Anadolu 33th Criminal Court of First Instance, at 11.35. The indictment, which was filed on 30 September 2021, presents the protest the Federation of Socialist Youth Associations (SGDF) activists attempted to hold in Kadıköy on 22 September 2021 in support of the student movement called #Barınamıyoruz [We cannot find shelter]. The prosecutor also presents the banner the activists were carrying which reads “Housing is a right, we will take it” as evidence for the charges. On 29 September 2022, journalist Bayburt was taken into custody in connection with this case so that her statement can be taken. Bayburt was released after being held in police custody for one day.
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