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10 August

Freedom of Expression and the Press in Turkey – 202

News portal bianet’s website “erroneously” put on long list of websites to be blocked; peace academic acquitted after Constitutional Court ruling

The Ankara 3rd Criminal Judgeship of Peace has ruled for access to a total of 136 websites, web pages and social media accounts, including the entire website of independent news portal bianet to be blocked. Details pertaining to the court decision that were obtained by bianet’s lawyer later revealed, however, that bianet.org was erroneously included in the list of URLs to be blocked although decision remains in effect for 135 other web addresses.

Among the websites blocked by the decision are those of news portal Gazete Fersude and Etkin News Agency (ETHA). The website geziyisavunuyoruz.org, which follows the trial of Osman Kavala and 15 others facing the charge of “attempting the overthrow the government” for their involvement in the Gezi protests, is also among those that were blocked for allegedly violating Turkey’s Internet law. The ruling dated 16 July 2019 was rendered in response to a complaint submitted on the same day by the Gendarmerie Command. The complainant applied to the court the following day saying that bianet.org was erroneously included in the list, bianet reported. The court then ordered removal of bianet.org from the list but kept the ban on the remaining 135 web sources intact. A more detailed report can be accessed here.

Peace academic acquitted in “propaganda” case

A court in the western province of İzmir ruled for the acquittal of an academic who was charged with “spreading propaganda for a terrorist group” for signing the Academic for Peace statement of 2016, in what appears to be the first penal court decision to acquit a signatory following a landmark judgment from the Constitutional Court.

The top court ruled last month that the freedom of expression of a group of academic who were prosecuted and convicted for signing the peace declaration were violated. The İzmir 13th High Criminal Court cited the Constitutional Court judgment in its ruling and ordered the acquittal of defendant Ahmet Kardam as per Article 223/2-a of the Turkish Criminal Procedure Code (CMK), which states that a defendant is acquitted immediately in the event the act attributed to him/her is not defined by the law as an offence.

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