The first hearing of the trial where journalist and author Zekine Türkeri, whom MLSA represents in court, faces “making terrorist propaganda” charges was held at İstanbul 13th High Criminal Court, on December 2nd. The prosecutor presented his final opinion as to the merits of the case at the first hearing. The court’s accepted the request of Türkeri’s lawyer for additional time to prepare their statements against the prosecutor’s opinion and adjourned the trial until March 15, 2022.
Zekine Türkeri and his lawyer Erselan Aktan were present at the first hearing of the trial, where Türkeri faces “propaganda” charges because of several social media posts she had shared on her personal account. The hearing started after the identification of the defendant, and Türkeri was the first to speak.
Türkeri stated that the posts she had shared on her social media account were all within her freedoms of expression and criticism. Türkeri said that she has been a journalist for a long time and that she cannot be accused of commenting and criticizing about the events which took place both inside and outside Turkey and which concern her both as a citizen and a journalist. Emphasizing that none of her posts praised any illegal organization, Türkeri said: “I am a journalist who is well aware of the fact that freedom of expression has been turned into a minefield. This minefield renders freedom of expression useless and forces self-censorship on journalists. Even after all this censorship and self-censorship, we are still put on trials.”
After Türkeri, her lawyer Erselan Aktan took the floor. Aktan reminded the court of the Court of Cassation’s previous rulings and argued that propaganda charges cannot be levelled according to the whims of the prosecution and that they cannot be based on pre-judgements. Aktan argued: “Lawmakers have determined several criteria so that the article seventh of the Law on the Fight Against Terrorism cannot be functionalized by governments against the people. These criteria are intended to prevent the prosecution from preparing its indictments that are free of material elements of a case. However, in this case, these criteria and the fundamental lines of the law have been overlooked.”
After the statements of the defense, the prosecutor took the floor and presented his opinion. The prosecutor claimed that the defendant made terrorist propaganda consecutively and requested that Türkeri be sentenced for the charges.
After the prosecutor, Türkeri and her lawyer took the floor once more and requested additional time to prepare their statements against the prosecutor’s opinion.
The court’s accepted the request of Türkeri’s lawyer for additional time to prepare their statements against the prosecutor’s opinion and adjourned the trial.