Case Monitoring

The case where journalist Cem Bahtiyar stands trial is adjourned until June

MAHKUM ABİ*

The fourth hearing of the trial where journalist Mete Cem Bahtiyar whom MLSA represents in court, faces “making propaganda for a terrorist organization” charge was held today in the Balıkesir 3rd High Criminal Court. The court decided to continue the international travel ban imposed on journalist Bahtiyar and adjourned the trial until June 2, 2022 so that the case file can be completed.

The trial of journalist Cem Bahtiyar on a terrorism-related charge because of social media posts continued today. Journalist Bahtiyar and his lawyer Erselan Aktan attended the hearing held in the Balıkesir 3rd High Criminal Court.

The court opened the hearing by dictating into the minutes the reply of the Bandırma Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office to the writ issued by the court at the previous hearing. The Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office informed the court that the criminal investigation against journalist Bahtiyar is pending.

Attorney Erselan Aktan took the floor first and reiterated that the social media posts cited as evidence against journalist Bahtiyar do not belong to him and that Bahtiyar stated this numerous times. Attorney Aktan reminded the court of the notification by Twitter in which the platform informed Bahtiyar that he can no longer access the account in question. In addition to the notification by Twitter, which was submitted to the court at the previous hearing, Attorney Aktan submitted the report by Twitter to the court. Referring to the report, Attorney Aktan stated that “In 2020, Twitter had informed the public that thousands of accounts, including verified ones, were hacked and that they were trying to recover those accounts.”

Continuing his statements, Attorney Aktan recalled the ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) and argued that “the ECtHR ordered local courts to take into account the linguistic dynamics and the structural algorithms of social media platforms in cases in which these platforms are included in one way or another. The aim of the ECtHR is both to prevent the interventions of the judiciary and to protect journalists from such cases. The Constitutional Court takes this ruling to be legal precedent for freedom of expression cases.”

Reminding the court of the criticisms of the EcTHR and the Venice Commission on the “weaponization” of the Article 7/2 of Anti-Terror Law in favor of the government, Attorney Aktan argued that Bahtiyar should be acquitted of the charges as the social media account in question does not belong to Bahtiyar.

Taking the floor after the defense, the prosecutor requested that the case file be completed.

Announcing its interim decision without a deliberation break, the court decided to inquire with the Bandırma Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office about the pending investigation against Bahtiyar, to continue the international travel ban imposed on Bahtiyar and to adjourn the trial.

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