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11 November

Freedom of Expression and the Press in Turkey - 215

At least 8 journalists sentenced or fined in one week; Soner Karabulut jailed pending trial; Ahmet Altan and Nazlı Ilıcak freed

Journalist Adnan Bilen fined for “insulting president”
Journalist Adnan Bilen, who was accused of “insulting the president” over two posts he made on social media back in 2015 and 2017, was ordered to pay TL 7,000 at the end of the second hearing of his trial that took place on 8 November 2019.
The 4th Criminal Court of First Instance of Van ruled to sentence Bilen to 11 months 20 days in prison for using the expression “ disgraceful” in one of his posts, while he was acquitted over the other post. The sentence was commuted to a fine worth TL 7,000.
In the indictment, which sought Bilen to be sentenced from 1 year and 2 months to 4 years and 8 months in prison for “insulting the president,” President Erdoğan was registered as the injured party.
Mehmet Çakmakçı’s trial adjourned until March
Journalist Mehmet Çakmakçı’s trial resumed at 10th High Criminal Court of Diyarbakır on 8 November 2019 for the sixth hearing in his trial on the charge of “membership in a terrorist organization.”
Çakmakçı who did not attend the hearing, was represented by his lawyer Resul Tamur. Ruling to ask after the report expected from the Diyarbakır Police Department, the court adjourned the trial until 11 March 2020.
Journalist Soner Karabulut arrested
Gazete Fersude reporter Soner Karabulut was jailed pending trial on 7 November 2019 at the Istanbul Courthouse where he had gone to testify in relation to an investigation against him. KArabulut was jailed by a judgeship without being given the opportunity to speak to a prosecutor first. Karabulut’s house was recently raided in his absence.
Journalist Atakan Sönmez given 10-month jail term
Atakan Sönmez, the former news director of Cumhuriyet daily’s online edition, appeared in court on 7 November 2019 at the 13th High Criminal Court of Istanbul for the final hearing of his trial. Sönmez was accused of “disseminating propaganda for a terrorist organization” over Cumhuriyet website’s coverage of Turkey’s 2018 military operation in Syria’s Afrin.
Announcing its ruling at the end of the hearing, the court sentenced Sönmez to 10 months in prison on the charge of “printing or publishing declarations or announcements that legitimize or praise the methods of a terrorist organization.” The sentence was suspended.
A report about the hearing, monitored by P24 can be accessed here.
Zeynep Altıok appears in court for “insulting the president”
Former CHP lawmaker Zeynep Altıok appeared in court for the first hearing of her trial for allegedly “insulting the president” on social media, at the 1st Urla Criminal Court of First Instance on 7 November 2019.
Altıok is on trial for supporting students who were arrested for carrying a banner featuring a cartoon titled “Tayyipler Alemi” during a graduation ceremony of the Middle East Technical University (ODTÜ) at the time when she was the CHP General Deputy Chair responsible for Human Rights.
Accepting the request of Altıok’s lawyers for additional time, the court adjourned the trial until 19 December 2019.
Ferhat Parlak appears in court for second hearing
The second hearing in the trial of journalist Ferhat Parlak, the owner of the shuttered newspaper Silvan Mücadele, for alleged “terrorist organization membership” took place on 6 November 2019 at the 11th High Criminal Court of Diyarbakır.
Parlak and his lawyer were in attendance at the courtroom where it was announced that the anticipated secret witness testimonies had not yet been received. While one of the three witnesses present claimed to not even know Parlak, the other two said that they knew Parlak only as a journalist and publisher in Silvan.
Reiterating its interim decision to hear the secret witnesses, the court ruled to continue the judicial control measures imposed on Parlak taking into consideration that the witness and secret witness testimonies were still expected and the minimum and maximum of the sought punishment. The trial was adjourned until 17 February 2020.

Read our full weekly report here


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