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Journalists Semiha Şahin and Pınar Gayıp are released with house arrest

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İstanbul – Fifth hearing of the trial where Etkin News Agency (ETHA) editor Semiha Şahin and reporter Pınar Gayıp are tried whilst detention was held at İstanbul 23rd High Criminal Court today. Journalists from the Journalists Union of Turkey (TGS) Women and LGBTI Commission attended the hearing in solidarity with Şahin and Pınar. Journalists Semiha Şahin and Pınar Gayıp have been imprisoned for 14 months on “making terrorist propaganda” and “membership in a terrorist organization” charges.

Semiha Şahin, who is tried whilst in detention, took the floor first and started her defense statement by greeting the journalists who were in the courtroom in solidarity with them. Şahin said, “All the offenses I am accused of are within the scope of freedom of expression and press freedom. I want my detainment to end. Journalism is not a crime. All my posts and news stories should be considered within press freedom,” and demanded her acquittal.

Pınar Gayıp took the floor after Şahin and began her remarks by greeting the journalists who were following the trial as well. Gayıp continued, “We have been detained for 1 year and 2 months now. This has turned into unjust suffering. We have been repeating the phrase ‘journalism is not a crime’ for the past 5 hearings. I demand my acquittal.”

Gayıp’s lawyer Kader Tonç said “Posts included in the indictment are not listed in the report prepared by the cyber crimes unit. My client’s agency ETHA continues its operations but my client is detained. This is unlawful,” and demanded her client’s acquittal.

Şahin’s lawyer Özcan Kılıç also demanded his client’s acquittal and added the following remarks: “The trial has begun but the court is violating the rights of detained defendants during the prosecution phase as well. While the evidence was being collected it was more acceptable but it is still ongoing. It’s been 14 months. They have been imprisoned throughout this whole time, which is a very long period. Everyone is innocent until proven guilty.”

The prosecutor requested the continuation of Gayıp’s and Şahin’s detention. However, the court ruled to release journalists Semiha Şahin and Pınar Gayıp with judicial control measures including house arrest. Trial is adjourned until 15 October.