İstanbul – The trial where 23 people including Etkin News Agency (ETHA) editor İsminaz Temel and reporter Havva Cuştan face “membership in a terrorist organization” and “terrorist propaganda” charges resumed in Istanbul today. The court decided secret witnesses to be present during the next hearing and refused to lift the defendants’ international travel ban.
12 defendants and their lawyers were present during the sixth hearing of the trial, which was held at Istanbul 27th High Criminal Court today. The hearing began by reading the minutes of all previous hearings out loud since the panel of judges have been replaced. Then, the court noted that Istanbul Anti-cybercrime Bureau Directorate has not provided the requested reports on digital materials. Witness Sercan Kaya’s testimony was also read out loud and lawyers protested against this statement.
Lawyer İlknur Alcan stated, “We do not accept the witness testimonies. My clients Özlem Gümüştaş, Sezin Uçar and Gülhan Kaya are all lawyers. They are often required to attend various legal organizations’ meetings in Europe. There is no flight risk. We demand the international travel ban to be lifted considering that they are lawyers.” Lawyer Özlem Gümüştaş, who stood before the court as a defendant said the following in response to the witness testimonies, “We demand witness Sercan Kaya to be heard once again while we can confront him. His testimony was heard during a hearing where the defendants and our lawyers were absent. I was not a lawyer of this witness for their case at the Istanbul 22nd High Criminal Court as they claim I was. We do not accept their statements.”
Journalist İsminaz Temel’s lawyer Ömer Çakırgöz presented the expert opinion prepared by Article 19 regarding Temel. “Article 19 mentions in their report that relying on secret witness testimonies has negative impact on the right to a fair trial. They also stated that my client being tried for journalism is a violation of the right to free expression. We demand her acquittal and the international travel ban to be lifted,” stated Çakırgöz.
The court decided secret witnesses to be present during the next hearing and ruled other witnesses be brought to court by force. The court also refused to lift the defendants’ international travel ban and adjourned the trial until November 26th.