Journalist Sezgin Kartal is acquitted

Journalist Sezgin Kartal is acquitted
The court ruled to acquit journalist Kartal in a trial brought against him for “insult by means of an oral, written or visual medium message” upon complaint by Türkiye daily columnist Fuat Uğur. The sentencing hearing of the trial brought against journalist Sezgin Kartal for having criticized Uğur’s column which was published on Türkiye daily on 19 June 2021 and in which Uğur had claimed that the attack on the İzmir provincial building of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) which resulted in the death of Deniz Poyraz was the machination of HDP itself, was held in the İstanbul 24th Criminal Court of First Instance.  Kartal, whom MLSA represents in the court, attended the hearing together with his lawyer Erselan Aktan. Fuat Uğur was represented by his lawyer Hasan Çalıoğlu. The hearing started three and a half hours later than it was originally scheduled. Before the hearing began, the judge asked journalist Kartal, “Did you take a photo in front of the courtroom? Don’t do it. I am following your Twitter account.”

‘The column I criticized was not in line with the principles of journalism’

Taking the floor first, the prosecutor repeated his final opinion as to the accusations and requested Kartal to be sentenced.  Kartal began his defense by stating that he is a journalist and does not know Fuat Uğur personally. Kartal stated that “I think that the column I criticized was not in line with the principles of journalism. I believe it contained disinformation which can adversely affect not only the ongoing Deniz Poyraz murder trial but also the public. I might have posted that tweet because I think so. If I read that column today, I will probably share the same tweet. My tweet in question does not contain any insult. I request my acquittal.”

‘The complainant’s column is not in the indictment’

Lawyer Aktan began his arguments by emphasizing that the parties are journalists and it is natural for journalists to criticize each other. Presenting to the court the column which was not included in the indictment, Aktan stated that “You told that the tweet was a response to the column. You mentioned the column. Nevertheless, the column is not in the indictment. For the first time in this case, the column in question is mentioned.” Referring to the content of said column, Aktan argued: “It is claimed that an employee of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) was murdered by another employee of the party. It is also claimed that HDP was not alone in this murder but acted together with the Gülenist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ) and the ‘gladio.’ Because this column is newsworth, every journalist is entitled to criticize it politically.” 

‘The trial is incompatible with the freedom of the press’

The judge interrupted Aktan’s defense by saying “This is a court. I don’t like political parties being mentioned.” Continuing his arguments, Aktan pointed out that the complainant tried to hack Kartal’s social media accounts. Uğur’s lawyer interrupted Aktan’s defense and objected to the allegations of hacking. Aktan continued his defense: “There are also numerous claims about the complainant. This is precisely why we consider him to be a public figure. Back in the day, it was claimed that the complainant was affiliated with FETÖ. Our client did not make such allegations. Also, in defiance of Article 160 of the Criminal Procedure Code, the evidence in favor of our client was not included in the indictment. The trial is incompatible with the freedom of the press. In matters such as this one, Article 125 of the Penal Code should not be the first article which comes to mind. Our client must be acquitted in light of Article 3 of the Press Law, Articles 26 and 28 of the Constitution, Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.”  Uğur’s lawyer began his arguments by stating that their complaint continues, lawyer Çalı argued: “We think the defendant admitted to his actions and committed the said offense. The post in question is beyond criticism. The elements of the offense occurred. We do not accept the allegations about our client and demand the defendant to be sentenced.” Reasoning that the elements of the offense Sezgin Kartal was charged with did not occur, the court ruled to acquit the journalist. *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.