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06 October

Freedom of Expression and the Press in Turkey - 210

Actor given 21-month sentence for “insulting the president”; prosecutor demands conviction of 7 journalists for sharing 2016 article

Retrial of Cumhuriyet case set for November
The 27th High Criminal Court of Istanbul will start hearing the retrial of the Cumhuriyet case on 21 November 2019. The court announced the date of the retrial on 3 October 2019.
The retrial follows on the heels of a recent ruling by the 16th Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Appeals, which overturned the convictions rendered in 2018 in the Cumhuriyet case.
The trial court had convicted 14 former staffers of Cumhuriyet daily of “aiding a terrorist organization without being its member.” The Supreme Court ruled on 12 September 2019 that all but two (Ahmet Şık and Emre İper) defendants in the case should be acquitted.
Actor Ersin Umut Güler handed down prison sentence on “insult” charge
Ersin Umut Güler, an actor with the Yolcu theatre company, appeared in the second hearing of his trial on charges of “insulting the president” and “insulting a state official” on 2 October 2019.
Güler was on trial on account of his social media posts from between 2014 and 2017. Istanbul’s 6th Criminal Court of First Instance convicted Güler of “insulting the president” and sentenced the actor to 1 year and 9 months in prison.
Prosecutor seeks conviction for 7 journalists
A trial where seven journalists and one other defendant are charged with “making those involved in combating terrorism a target” resumed on 2 October 2019 at the 9th High Criminal Court of Diyarbakır.
The case was launched after a complaint from senior gendarmerie commander Maj. Gen. Musa Çitil, who was cited in a news report published in February 2016 by the shuttered DİHA news agency. The defendants are Ömer Çelik, who was the news editor at DİHA at the time, former DİHA reporters Çağdaş Kaplan, Hamza Gündüz and Selman Çiçek, journalist Abdulvahap Taş, the shuttered Özgür Gündem newspaper’s responsible editor İnan Kızılkaya and publisher Kemal Sancılı.
The prosecutor submitted his final opinion of the case during the fourth hearing, asking the court to convict Çelik, Kaplan, Gündüz, Taş, Kızılkaya, Çiçek and Sancılı of “making those involved in combating terrorism a target.” The prosecutor also sought an additional prison term for Çiçek on the charge of “disseminating propaganda for a terrorist organization.”
In its interim ruling, the court decided to separate the file against the eighth defendant in the case, Selim Günenç, who is still at large, and adjourned the trial until 18 December 2019, granting the rest of the defendants additional time to prepare their defense statements in response to the prosecutor’s final opinion.
İnan Kızılkaya and Kemal Sancılı’s trial adjourned until November
The trial of Kemal Sancılı, the former publisher of the shuttered newspaper Özgür Gündem, and İnan Kızılkaya, the newspaper’s former responsible managing editor, on the charge of “terrorism propaganda” resumed on 2 October 2019 at the 27th High Criminal Court of Istanbul.
This was the eighth hearing in the case, where Sancılı and Kızılkaya are accused because of three news articles published in Özgür Gündem in 2016.
The presiding judge informed those in attendance that a request to merge the case file with the ongoing Özgür Gündem main trial overseen by the 23rd High Criminal Court of Istanbul was rejected.
Issuing an interim ruling at the end of the hearing, the court decided to hand over the case file to the prosecution for the drafting of their final opinion and adjourned the trial until 28 November 2019.

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