This week, the hearings of several journalism and freedom of expression trials will be held. Below is the list of these hearings:
October 25th, Tuesday
The first hearing of the trial in which Gülsüm Elvan and Sami Elvan face “insulting the president” charge will be held in the İstanbul 43rd Criminal Court of First Instance, at 09.30. The prosecutor who also prepared the indictment of the Boğaziçi Exhibition Trial presents the remarks of Gülsüm Elvan and Sami Elvan in the press statements held after the September 23, 2020 and January 29, 2021 hearings of the Berkin Elvan Trial as evidence against the parents of Berkin Elvan who was killed by the police during the Gezi Park protests. In the press statements, Berkin Elvan’s parents recalled then Prime Minister Erdoğan’s words in which Erdoğan had defended the police violence during the Gezi Park protests which also resulted in the death of 14 years old Berkin Elvan by saying “I gave the order” and “The police heroically made history in Taksim.” The prosecutor who includes in the indictment the information that criminal investigations launched separately against Berkin Elvan’s parents were merged because of the “legal and factual connection” between them, but fails to specify which expressions of Gülsüm and Sami Elvan constitute an insult to the president. Can Atalay, who is listed as one of Gülsüm and Sami Elvan’s lawyers in the indictment is currently imprisoned as he was sentenced to 18 years in the Gezi Trial.
The third hearing of the trial in which journalist İnci Aydın faces “identifying public officials on anti-terrorism duties as targets” charge will be held in the Aydın 2nd High Criminal Court, at 09.35. The indictment presents an article published in the Kadın [Women] issue of the Yeni Yaşam daily on December 15th, 2021 and when Aydın was the managing editor. The article titled “İktidara notumuz yok lafımız var: Haksızlıklarınla göndereceğiz!” penned by the Spokesperson of the HDP Women’s Assembly and Batman MP Ayşe Acar Başaran mentions Çitil’s name only twice. The prosecutor claims that via the article “Çitil is pointed as a target for PKK and KCK.” At the first hearing of the trial held on June 16, 2022, the court accepted the intervention request of Musa Çitil. On October 6 2022, at the second hearing of the trial, the prosecutor presented his final opinion as to the accusations. Reasoning that the offense Aydın has been charged with was “committed by someone else”, the prosecutor requested that Aydın be acquitted.
The third hearing of the trial in which journalists İrfan Tuncçelik, Ümit Turhan Çoşkun and 11 Peace Mothers face “committing an offense on behalf of an organization without being a member of the organization” and “defying the Law no. 2911 on Assemblies and Demonstration” charges will be held in the İstanbul 23rd High Criminal Court at 10.50. Among the evidence cited for the charges is the footage of the protest held on May 10, 2019 in front of the Bakırköy Women’s Prison to draw attention to the hunger strikes in prisons which began on November 8, 2019. The prosecutor claims that the Peace Mothers attended the said protest “wearing white head scarfs or muslins to appear sympathetic, dramatic and demagogic in the public eye.”
The fifth hearing of the trial in which 7 women and LGBTİ+, including journalist Şeriban 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 11.30. 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 and 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 “broke a decorative vase.” On June 9 2022, at the fourth hearing of the trial, a journalist was heard as a witness of the defense. The witness stated that contrary to the claims in the indictment, it was the protestors who were battered by police officers. The witness also shared with the court that he saw two women being sexually harassed by police officers that day.
The ninth hearing of the trial in which exiled musician Ferhat Tunç faces “making propaganda for a terrorist organization” and “membership in a terrorist organization” charges will be held in the Diyarbakır 5th High Criminal Court, at 13.30. The prosecution requests imprisonment for Tunç for up to 20 years, citing his social media posts as evidence against the musician and claiming that he is a Democratic Society Congress (DTK) delegate.
October 26th, Wednesday
The 10th hearing of the trial in which the proprietor of the since-shuttered Azadiya Welat newspaper Ramazan Ölçen faces “membership in a terrorist organization” charge will be held in the Diyarbakır 11th High Criminal Court, at 09.40. The indictment presents Ölçen’s proprietorship of Azadiya Welat and his possession of “illegal” publications as evidence against him. The indictment requests that Ölçen be sentenced to 15 years in prison.
The 13th hearing of the trial in which exiled artist Ferhat Tunç faces “inciting the public to hatred and hostility” charge will be held in the Büyükçekmece 4th Criminal Court of First Instance, at 10.00. The indictment presents a tweet in which Tunç criticized the 2017 Referendum as evidence against him. For the past 12 hearings, the court has been waiting for the execution of the arrest warrant issued against Tunç.
October 27th, Thursday
The third hearing of the trial in which journalist İsmail Arı faces “illegally obtaining or giving data” charge will be held in the İstanbul 58th Criminal Court of First Instance, at 09.40. Journalist Arı stands trial upon complaint by Kerem Kınık, the President of Turkish Red Crescent. The indictment presents a news report by Arı in which he revealed that Kınık and another top executive of the Turkish Red Crescent were ordered by the Directorate General for Relations with Civil Society to pay heavy fines for malpractice. At the second hearing of the trial held on May 12, 2022, the court decided to accept the intervention request of Kerem Kınık. On October 11 2022, at the third hearing of the trial, the prosecutor presented his final opinion as to the accusations. Arguing that the account information of Kınık could be seen on the bank receipt included in the news report, the prosecutor requested that journalist Arı be sentenced to up to 4 years in prison.
The 20th hearing of the trial in which 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. The indictment against Dündar and Kızılkaya was prepared by prosecutor Murat İnam upon the complaint of the former judge of the İstanbul 1st Judgeship of Peace Bekir Altun. The indictment presents the news report titled “The most useful judge of the palace regime” which was published in Özgür Gündem on June 22, 2016 and when Dündar appeared as the Editor-in-Chief of Özgür Gündem in solidarity with the newspaper. The prosecutor claims that complainant Altun was insulted by remarks such as “the judge who cleared the AKP government in the December 17-25 Corruption Investigation” and “the judge who signed for the blocking of Twitter and YouTube.” Pointing out the Kızılkaya’s statements given at the prosecutor’s office in which Kızılkaya denied the allegations and the fact that Dündar did not provide his statement during the investigation, the prosecutor claims that “it has been understood that they committed the offense they have been charged with” and requests imprisonment for Dündar and Kızılkaya.
The ninth hearing of the trial in which 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 organizations” charge will be held in the İstanbul 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance, at 11.00. 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 for “degrading the Turkish nation” and their sentences were suspended. However, Oruç and Çaksu’s files were separated because their statements could not be taken at the time. Journalist Aziz Oruç has been in pre-trial detention since June 16 2022 along with his 15 colleagues because of a separate criminal investigation led by the Diyarbakır Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office.
The first hearing of the trial in which journalists Canan Coşkun and Barış Pehlivan face “identifying public officials on anti-terrorism duties as targets” charge will be held in the İstanbul 34th High Criminal Court, at 11.20. The indictment filed on April 12, 2022 was prepared after the criminal complaint by the former presiding judge of the İstanbul 14th High Criminal Court Akın Gürlek. The prosecutor presents the remarks of journalists Coşkun and Pehlivan in which they stated that the trial of the members of the Religious Scholars Solidarity Association (DİAYDER) is to be presided by judge Akın Gürlek who is known for his decisions in political trials. Citing the tweet Canan Coşkun had shared on her personal account on December 29,2021 and in which she had shared the news report she wrote about the details of the indictment of the DİAYDER Trial and the remarks of Barış Pehlivan on the December 12th and 30th broadcasts of Halk TV’s Açıkça show, the prosecutor claims that “by specifically emphasizing the Religious Scholars Solidarity Association (Diayder) which is considered to be closely associated with the PKK/KCK Armed Terrorist Organization and by exposing the case file of the trial in question,” Coşkun and Pehlivan “identified Akın Gürlek as a target for the PKK/KCK Armed Terrorist Organization.” Akın Gürlek who is listed as “victim” in this case, had tried journalist Canan Coşkun over the same charge when he was the presiding judge of the İstanbul 26th High Criminal Court and had sentenced Coşkun to 2 years and 3 months in prison for “identifying public officials on anti-terrorism duties as targets.”
The second hearing of the trial in which 16 people who were taken into custody before the February 3, 2022 “Freedom for the ill prisoners watch” in front of the Yenibosna Forensic Medicine Institute, called by the Solidarity with the Imprisoned Initiative face “defying the Law no. 2911 on Demonstrations and Assemblies” charge will be held in the Bakırköy 51st Criminal Court of First Instance, at 12.30. Among the evidence cited against people, which the prosecutor describes as “those gathered in front of the institute to create pressure on the public” is the social media call shared on the Initiative’s accounts.
The third hearing of the trial in which journalist Sibel Hürtaş faces “prevention of public duty” charge will be held in the Ankara 37th Criminal Court of First Instance, at 14.00. Journalist Hürtaş was prevented by the police from following the protest of many bar association chairs in the garden of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey to protest the multiple bar association law. After insisting on following the protest as a journalist, Hürtaş was taken into custody by the police. Hürtaş claimed that she was tortured and ill-treated as she was strangled in the detention vehicle, and subsequently received a report of incapacity to work for two days. The prosecutor's office decided not to prosecute the policemen who physically assaulted Hürtaş. On April 12 2022, at the second hearing of the trial the court decided to subpoena two complainant police officers who failed to attend previous hearings and to inquire why the court’s previous writs were not responded to. The court also decided to file a criminal complaint according to the response given to its inquiry.
The sixth hearing of the trial in which journalist Mete Cem Bahtiyar whom MLSA represents in court, faces “making propaganda for a terrorist organization” charge will be held in the Balıkesir 3rd High Criminal Court, at 14.45. The indictment presents social media posts shared between 2015-2018 on an account claimed to be belonging to Bahtiyar. A tweet which displays the cover photo used for one of philosopher Slavoj Žižek’s articles which he had penned for sendika.org are among the social media posts which are cited as evidence.
*This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. The work may be used and redistributed for non-commercial purposes with proper attribution to the Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA).
Medya ve Hukuk Çalışmaları Derneği (MLSA) haber alma hakkı, ifade özgürlüğü ve basın özgürlüğü alanlarında faaliyet yürüten bir sivil toplum kuruluşudur. Derneğimiz başta gazeteciler olmak üzere mesleki faaliyetleri sebebiyle yargılanan kişilere hukuki destek vermektedir.