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29 July

Freedom of Expression and the Press in Turkey – 200

Top court rules that convictions against academics violate freedom of expression; academic Füsun Üstel released

The Plenary of the Constitutional Court ruled on 26 July 2019 that the convictions against 10 academics who were handed down prison sentences for signing 2016’s Academics for Peace petition violated their rights to freedom of expression. Professor Füsun Üstel, who was released from prison earlier this week under a stay of execution order, was among the 10 applicants.

The top court rendered its judgment through a majority vote of nine votes in favor versus eight votes against. The judges who voted in favor included the president of the Constitutional Court, Zühtü Arslan. The top court also ordered a retrial in all 10 applications and ruled that the government pay TL 9,000 in non-pecuniary damages to each of the applicants.

A report about the top court’s ruling can be accessed here.


213 media professionals stand trial in 2nd quarter of 2019

The latest edition of the BİA Media Monitoring Report, covering the second quarter of 2019, has found that 213 journalists stood trial and 14 journalists were taken into custody during the reporting period.

The report is issued once every three months by Erol Önderoğlu, the Turkey representative of Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

Some 197 media representatives faced 10 aggravated life sentences and 2,362 years in prison in total during the reporting period. The report said that during the second quarter of 2019, 10 journalists and/or media representatives stood trial on the charge of “disrupting the unity of the state,” facing 10 aggravated life imprisonment sentences, while eight others faced a combined prison sentence of 450 years on the charges of “espionage” or “obtaining and/or publishing classified government information.”

A total of 88 journalists faced a combined prison term of 1,341 years on terrorism-related charges such as “leading a terrorist group,” “membership in a terrorist group,” “aiding a terrorist group without being its member” in the reporting period. Four of them whose trials have concluded were handed down a combined prison sentence of 13 years 1 month and 15 days. Seventy media professionals stood trial on “propaganda” and other similar charges during the reporting period, facing a combined prison term of 493 years. In the trials that concluded, 20 of the defendants were handed down sentences. They were given a combined prison sentence of 32 years, 9 months and 2 days, and TL3,600 in judicial fine.

The report also highlighted that during the second quarter 10 journalists were targeted by assailants and three among them almost died.

Read our full weekly report here


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