İstanbul – Media and Law Studies Association’s (MLSA) Legal Unit objected to the arrest warrant issued for journalist Cengiz Çandar as part of a trial based on a social media post.
In the petition of objection submitted to the İstanbul 30th Criminal Court of First Instance, MLSA claimed that issuing an arrest warrant against Çandar, who is charged with “praising an offence and the offender,” despite the fact that the request to take his defense from abroad through letters rogatory had been accepted, violated many elements of the right to a fair trial.
Lawyer Veysel Ok underlined that the decision to issue this warrant against Çandar creates concerns and uncertainty for future plans of the journalist and harms his psychological well-being. Ok further stated that the decision prevents Çandar from conducting activities related to his profession in Turkey.
The petition noted that issuing this arrest warrant even though the address of Çandar, who is currently residing in Sweden, was shared with the judicial authorities violates many elements of the right to a fair trial, as well as the presumption of innocence. The petition also reminded that the right to a fair trial includes the right to be granted the necessary time and means to prepare a defense and pointed out that the arrest warrant also violates the principle of proportionality.
It was emphasized that the justifications brought forward by the judicial authorities are insufficient to limit the right to freedom of the press and freedom of expression in this way and that the decision has a chilling effect not only on Çandar but also on other members of the press in Turkey.
The objection is relayed to a higher court
Istanbul 30th Criminal Court of First Instance examined the petition submitted on January 26, 2021 quickly and decided that no mistake was made in the interim decision to issue an arrest warrant. The court relayed the petition to the Istanbul 1st High Criminal Court for evaluation and to rule a final decision.
The 30th Criminal Court of First Instance stated that the appeal was groundless, pointing out that rogatory proceedings could take very long. It claimed that issuing an arrest warrant for Çandar’s testimony to be received in case he returns to Turkey was thus more appropriate with regards to the right to a fair trial within a reasonable time.
Çandar stands trial for a tweet on “the girl with the red scarf”
Journalist Cengiz Çandar faces “praising an offence and the offender” charges based on a single Twitter post shared from his personal account on May 30, 2017.
In his Tweet, Çandar, who is defended by MLSA, commemorated Ayşe Deniz Karacagil: “The girl with the red scarf, the angel with the most beautiful smile of Gezi who warmed our hearts, fell to the ground in front of Raqqa and burned our hearts again.”
The indictment claims that Karacagil died fighting for a terrorist organization in Raqqa and that praising her on social media would pose an open threat to public peace.