Case Monitoring

Journalists Sibel Hürtaş and Hayri Demir’s trial dragged by the Ministry

Ankara – The trial where Artı TV Ankara correspondent Sibel Hürtaş and journalist Hayri Demir face “making terrorist propaganda” and “inciting the public to hatred and animosity charges” for their social media posts criticizing the military operation in Afrin, Syria resumed in Ankara today. The Ministry of Justice has not responded to the court’s request to extend the case and try the defendants pursuant to Turkish Penal Code’s Article 301. The court adjourned the trial for this reason and refused to lift Hürtaş and Demir’s international travel ban. 

Seventh hearing of the trial was held at Ankara 15th High Criminal Court today. Journalists Sibel Hürtaş, Hayri Demir and their defense lawyers were present in the courtroom. The court usher did not allow journalists to use their phones during the hearing, which started 45 minutes late. Presiding Judge Muhammet Karaca informed the defendants that the Ministry of Justice has not responded to the court’s request to extend the case and try the defendants pursuant to Article 301. 

Sibel Hürtaş and Hayri Demir were asked if they had anything to say at this point in the trial and they both requested the case file to be completed in a timely fashion. Defendant Lezgin Tekay’s lawyer Alişan Şahin noted that Article 301 of the Penal Code, which is titled “Degrading the Turkish Nation, State of Turkish Republic, the Organs and Institutions of the State” violated the Constitution and added: “This article is against the equal protection of law and the rights to freedom of thought and expression, which are all protected under the Constitution. Thus, your court shall apply to the Constitutional Court requesting a review of norms and ask this article to be revoked. The prosecution must be put on hold until this application is finalized.”

Journalists Hürtaş and Demir’s lawyers demanded their clients’ international travel ban to be lifted and said that this judicial control measure has turned into a punishment. 

When public prosecutor Sultan Çavundurluoğlu was asked for a response to these requests, the prosecutor demanded to wait for the Ministry’s reply and asked the court to reject all requests made by the defense lawyers.  

The court announced its interim decision and rejected lawyer Alişan Şahin’s request to apply to the Constitutional Court about Article 301 without any justification. The court also refused to lift the travel ban in effect for the defendants, citing the long-awaited response by the Ministry as the main reason for this decision. The court insisted that the judicial control measures were restrained when taken into consideration the nature of the imputed crime.

The court ruled to wait for the Ministry of Justice’s response to their warrant and adjourned the trial until December 3rd, 2019.