Case Monitoring

Özgür Gündem police raid trial adjourned until November

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İstanbul – Fourth hearing of the trial where 22 journalists who were taken into custody while the police was raiding since shuttered Özgür Gündem daily’s office on 16 August 2016 was held at İstanbul 5th Criminal Court of the First Instance today. Each of the defendants are tried on charges of “resisting a public officer to prevent them from performing their duty” and “insulting a public officer,” with a request of 8 years and 4 months prison sentence.

The court decided Özgürlükçü Demokrasi editor Reyhan Hacıoğlu to attend the hearing via SEGBİS video-conference link since Hacıoğlu is tried whilst in detention in a different case. Similar to previous hearings, Hacıoğlu refused to attend and did not want to join via SEGBİS.

The fact that journalists’ confiscated digital materials have not been returned since the raid, which took place over two years ago, came up during this hearing once again. The judge decided to ask the General Directorate of Security about the defendants’ mobile phones in writing.

Lawyer Özcan Kılıç took the floor next and reminded the court that İMC TV was on live broadcast while the raid was happening. Kılıç urged that the court should watch this footage, which has also been confiscated during the raid, in addition to the footage the anti-terror police recorded before reaching a verdict.

The trial is adjourned until 5 November, 09:30 AM.

Case background

İstanbul 8th Criminal Court of Peace ruled to shut down Özgür Gündem newspaper on “making propaganda on behalf of a terrorist propaganda” charges on 16 August 2016. Upon this ruling, anti-terror police immediately went over to Özgür Gündem’s headquarters and raided the office. During this raid, the police took the newspaper’s editors, Editor-in-Chief and İMC TV reporters who were at the building for an interview at the time into custody. Although the journalists were later released, a lawsuit was filed against them on charges of “resisting a public officer to prevent them from performing their duty” and “insulting a public officer.”

During the third hearing of the trial which was held in January 2019, five anti-terror police officers testified before the court–one as the complainant and four as witnesses.