Last Week

Last week in free speech: Week of March 18 – 22


Several journalism and free speech trials were held last week. Below is a list of the hearings monitored by Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA) last week:

Kazım Kızıl’s final hearing will be held on 19 June

10th  hearing of the trial where 24 people including documentary filmmaker and video activist Kazım Kızıl, who was taken into custody in İzmir during a protest against the 16 April 2017 referendum and remained in prison for 3 months before being released during the first hearing, was held at İzmir 33rd Criminal Court of the First Instance. The trial is adjourned until 19 June. A verdict is expected from the next hearing.

Court acquits journalist Çağrı Sarı during Paradise Papers trial

Former Minister of Energy Berat Albayrak and his brother Serhat Albayrak had filed a lawsuit against Evrensel daily’s former Managing Editor Çağrı Sarı, claiming that she has attacked their personal rights and committed slander and defamation while reporting on Paradise Papers. The court acquitted Sarı during the sixth hearing of the trial, which was held at Bakırköy 2nd Criminal Court of the First Instance on the grounds that the elements of the imputed crime have not been constituted.

Boğaziçi students’ trial is adjourned until 16 June

Third hearing of the trial where a group of Boğaziçi University students face “making propaganda for a terrorist organization” charges for protesting against another group of students who served Turkish delight to celebrate Turkey’s military operation in Afrin, Syria on 19 March 2018 was held at the İstanbul 32nd High Criminal Court.

Court seeks Ministry’s permission to try journalist Kanbal with Article 301

In the trial where journalist Ahmet Kanbal faces “terrorist propaganda” charges, the panel of judges ruled to seek the Ministry of Justice’s permission in order to continue proceedings pursuant to the notorious Article 301, which is about denigrating the Turkish nation.  If the Prosecutor’s Office does not object to this decision within a week, the date of the next hearing will be determined following the response from the Ministry.

Ahmet Altan to pay judiciary fine for insulting the president

Final hearing of the trial where journalist and writer Ahmet Altan faced “insulting the president” charges for an article published in May 2016 was held at the İstanbul 30th Criminal Court of the First Instance. The court sentenced Altan to 11 months and 20 days in prison. The judge ruled to convert the prison sentence into a judicial fine of 7000 liras (approximately 1125 Euros).

Singer Ferhat Tunç’s trial adjourned until 31 May

Second hearing of the trial where singer Ferhat Tunç faces “insulting the president charges” for 10 tweets that he had posted in 2016 resumed at the Büyükçekmece 14th Criminal Court of the First Instance. Since Tunç has a different case with the same crime, per the decision to merge both files, the court ruled to request the other file from the relevant court in writing and adjourned the trial until 31 May.

ÇHD and HBB lawyers are convicted for “membership in a terrorist organization”

In the trial where Progressive Lawyers’ Association (ÇHD) and People’s Law Bureau (HHB) members face terrorism charges, the court announced its verdict in the absence of defendants who are in detention and their defense lawyers. All defendants were convicted; the lawyers received a combined prison sentence of 159 year 1 month 30 days. The third hearing of the trial where 20 lawyers who were members of these organizations, of whom 6 are detained, face “managing a terrorist organization” and “membership in a terrorist organization” charges resumed at the courtroom in the Silivri Penitentiaries Campus in Istanbul and the hearing lasted 3 days. Here is a recap of all three sessions, during which right to a fair trial was violated gravely:

Day 1: Detained lawyers who are on hunger strike appear before court

Day 2: Court files criminal complaint against lawyer Kozağaçlı for demanding recusal of the judge

Day 3: Lawyers receive combined prison sentence of 159 years, 1 month and 30 days

Writer Fikret Başkaya appears before court for “The Real Terror is State Terror” article

Writer Fikret Başkaya appeared before court for the first hearing of the trial where is charged with terrorist propaganda because of an article titled “The Real Terror is State Terror,” published on the Free University’s website. In his defense statement, Başkaya rejected the charges imputed on him and noted: “Finding ‘terrorist propaganda’ in an article that was written against terrorism and even condemned terrorism can only be explained by the esteemed prosecutor’s high reading and comprehension skills.” The trial is adjourned until 10 September.

Trial of human rights defenders adjourned until 16 June

Seventh hearing of the trial where 11 human rights defenders face terror related charges for attending a meeting on “digital security of human rights activists” in Istanbul, Buyukada was held at Istanbul 35th High Criminal Court. The trial is adjourned until 16 July for the prosecutor to prepare their opinion as to the accusations.

Three hearings in one day: MLSA lawyers, partners, and journalists on trial

Journalist Salih Turan was released in a trial where he faced terrorist propaganda charges, while the hearings of civil society professional Aret Demirci, who was on trial for insulting the president and Lawyer Veysel Ok, on trial for denigratıng the Turkish judiciary, were adjourned to a later date.