Lawyer Veysel Ok, who defends many journalists and writers in various freedom of expression trials in Turkey, will appear before a court for the fifth time on 4 July on charges of “insulting the Turkish judiciary.”
Ok is accused of “insulting the Turkish judiciary” — a crime under Article 301 of the Turkish Criminal Court — over remarks he made in a 2015 interview.
A final verdict is expected in the case where Ok faces up to two years in prison. In the final hearing, the court had said it needed more time to examine the documents in the case, adjourning the case until July.
The hearing will take place at the 37. Criminal Court of First Instance at 9.30 am. Cihan Acar, the correspondent who conducted the interview, is also a suspect in the same trial.
The accusations against Ok are based on his remarks uttered in an interview published on 25 December 2015 in the Özgür Düşünce newspaper, which has been shut down under an emergency decree.
The case was launched following a complaint from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s office filed on 29 December 2015. The indictment was filed in August 2016, but the court did not accept the indictment until more than a year later when Ok started representing several journalists arrested following the coup attempt last year.
Request for intervention
In the second hearing of the trial, a legal representative for Erdoğan had requested a leave to intervene on behalf of the president. However, the court didn’t grant the leave on the grounds that Erdoğan had not been “directly harmed” by the lawyer’s statement.
Ok’s original statement
In the interview, Ok said: “Previously, judges could hold varying opinions. There was a possibility of being tried by judges who valued freedoms. But now all members of the judiciary come in a single color. We see the judges serving at the Criminal Judgeships of Peace. They are deaf to defense statements or objections. Where the loyalties of these judges lie is clear. Nothing changes the result..because the decisions are pre-ordered.. Either, those in power give orders to the judicial authorities before the investigation, or attack the defendant via the government press.”
About the defendant
Veysel Ok is a leading free speech and press rights advocate known for his defense of journalists rights. He is also co-founder of the Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA). He has been working in the field of freedom of the press for more than a decade and has defended some of Turkey’s most well-known journalists alongside Die Welt correspondent Deniz Yücel.