The fourth hearing of the trial where journalist Çetin Yılmaz whom MLSA represents in court, faces “making propaganda for a terrorist organization” charge was held in the Manisa 2nd High Criminal Court. The court sentenced Yılmaz to 1 year 6 months 22 days in prison, reasoning that journalist Yılmaz committed the offense he was charged with. The court deferred the announcement of the verdict.
Journalist Çetin Yılmaz attended the sentencing hearing of the case heard by the Manisa 2nd High Criminal Court with his lawyer Erselan Aktan. After the roll call, the presiding judge stated that they will hear the lawyer statements first as per their procedure.
Taking the floor, Attorney Erselan Aktan stated that some of the social media posts included in the indictment are not of journalist Yılmaz: “The social media posts shared by the Facebook page called Qestuka do not belong to my client. Furthermore, there is no evidence proving that they do.”
Attorney Aktan continued his statement arguing that regardless of the content of the posts in question, they were all put together in an unlawful manner and reminded the court of the ruling by the Constitutional Court (AYM): “All social media posts in the indictment were detected through a method called ‘virtual patrol.” The Constitutional Court found this method to be unconstitutional and revoked the article of the law which gave the police an authority to conduct such an investigation. The Court ordered law-enforcement to stop this kind of investigation and advised local courts not to take into consideration the posts which are acquired via this method and presented as evidence for their verdict. However, in this case, both the investigation and prosecution were carried out in such an unlawful manner.”
Arguing that the posts which Yılmaz had shared on his personal account do not contain any call for violence or any praise of violence, attorney Aktan stated that they were posted with the intention of informing the public and that they were gathered and included in the indictment in an unlawful manner. Attorney Aktan requested that Yılmaz be acquitted.
Taking the floor after attorney Aktan, journalist Yılmaz stated: “I am a journalist. I have worked in different outlets over the years. For some time, I also worked as an editor. Therefore I know what kind of editorial filter a text should be put through. I uphold journalist criteria in every news story I share and I do not share every news story I come across nor do I report on everything. I am not even a member of the political party for which I vote because I believe that this would be contrary to the ethics of journalism. I do not disseminate the propaganda of any organization, group or institution including the political party which I support. I can only write about them as a journalist. I request to be acquitted”
Announcing its decision without taking a deliberation break, the court sentenced Yılmaz to 1 year 6 months 22 days in prison, reasoning that journalist Yılmaz committed the offense he was charged with. The court deferred the announcement of the verdict.
The indictment dated August 26, 2021, presents 13 social media posts shared on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook between 2015-2020 as evidence against journalist Yılmaz.
Yılmaz was detained on August 13, 2021 together with six people and was released with judicial control measures after spending a week in police custody.
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