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18 October

Freedom of Expression and the Press in Turkey - 264

İshak Yasul, Arafat Dayan handed down jail sentences; Özgür Boğatekin faces new indictment; prosecutor seeks conviction for Can Dündar.

https://expressioninterrupted.com/

Journalist Sabiha Temizkan’s trial adjourned until 22 October

The third hearing of journalist Sabiha Temizkan’s trial on the charge of “terrorism propaganda” took place on 15 October 2020 at the Istanbul 35th High Criminal Court.

P24 monitored the hearing, where Temizkan did not attend due to medical reasons. Granting Temizkan additional time to make her defense statement in court, the panel adjourned the trial until 22 October.

Sadiye Eser and Sadık Topaloğlu’s trial adjourned

The second hearing in the trial of Mezopotamya news agency reporters Sadiye Eser and Sadık Topaloğlu on the charge of “membership of a terrorist organization” took place on 15 October 2020 at the 22nd High Criminal Court of Istanbul.

P24 monitored the hearing, where Eser and Topaloğlu were in attendance with their lawyers.

The prosecutor told the court they would like to present their final opinion. The presiding judge then reminded the prosecutor that the cout was scheduled to hear a witness. The prosecutor asked the court to revoke its decision. Eser and Topaloğlu asked the court to lift the judicial control measures imposed on them and to return their digital equipment, confiscated during their arrest.

Eser and Topaloğlu’s lawyer Özcan Kılıç requested the court to proceed with its previous decision to hear witness testimony.

In its interim ruling, the court decided to issue a warrant for the witness to be forcibly brought to court to testify. Ordering the continuation of the travel ban imposed on Eser and Topaloğlu, the court adjourned the trial until 9 March 2021.

Journalist İshak Yasul handed down 10-month sentence

The 10th hearing in the trial of former Özgürlükçü Demokrasi responsible editor İshak Yasul and Editor-in-Chief Yılmaz Yıldız on the charge of “printing or publishing declarations by terrorist organizations” took place on 15 October 2020 at the 26th High Criminal Court of Istanbul.

Yasul’s lawyer Özcan Kılıç was in attendance. Issuing its judgment at the end of the hearing, the court sentenced Yasul to 10 months in prison. The sentence was not deferred. The court ruled to separate the file against Yıldız, who has not given his statement yet.

Ayhan Bilgen acquitted of two charges in Özgür Gündem trial

The fourth hearing in jailed HDP politician Ayhan Bilgen’s trial over his membership in the Editorial Advisory Board of the shuttered Özgür Gündem newspaper took place on 15 October 2020 at the 24th High Criminal Court of Istanbul. 

P24 monitored the hearing, where Bilgen addressed the court from the Sincan Prison via the judicial video-conferencing network SEGBİS.

Presenting their final opinion during the hearing, the prosecutor asked the court to acquit Bilgen. In his defense statement, Bilgen told the court that he was not directly involved in the newspaper’s editorial policy. Bilgen’s lawyer Özcan Kılıç asked the court to acquit his client.

Announcing their judgment at the end of the hearing, the court panel acquitted Bilgen of “disrupting the unity of the state and the integrity of the nation” and “terrorism propaganda” charges, while they separated the “membership of a terrorist organization” charge.

Compensation case against Çiğdem Toker adjourned

A compensation case filed by the T3 Foundation against journalist Çiğdem Toker and Sözcünewspaper over a column Toker wrote on 28 January 2019 resumed on 15 October 2020 at the 3rd Civil Court of Küçükçekmece.

T3 Foundation is seeking TL 80,000 in compensation.

Granting both parties time to prepare their statements against the expert report, the court adjourned the lawsuit until 18 February 2021.

Prosecutor seeks conviction for Can Dündar in “MİT trucks trial”

The 11th hearing in exiled journalist Can Dündar’s retrial in the “MİT trucks case” took place on 14 October 2020 at the 14th High Criminal Court of Istanbul.

In his final opinion, the prosecutor asked the court to convict Dündar of “obtaining information that must be kept confidential for reasons relating to the security or domestic or foreign political interests of the State, for the purpose of political or military espionage” and “knowingly and willingly aiding a terrorist organization without being its member.”

Granting time for the preparation of the final statements, the court adjourned the trial until 4 December 2020.

A report about the hearing, monitored by P24, can be accessed here.

Journalist Buse Söğütlü’s trial gets under way

Journalist Buse Söğütlü’s trial on the charge of “Exposing those involved in the fight against terrorism as targets” got under way on 14 October 2020 at the 23rd High Criminal Court of Istanbul.

Söğütlü and her lawyer Erman Öztürk were in attendance. The court did not allow spectators inside the courtroom due to Covid-19. The court ruled to send the case file to the prosecution for the preparation of their final opinion and adjourned the trial until 30 December 2020.

Court lifts arrest warrant for Hayko Bağdat

The third hearing in journalist Hayko Bağdat’s trial on the charge of “insulting the president” took place on 14 October 2020 at Istanbul’s 50th Criminal Court of First Instance.

P24 monitored the hearing, where Bağdat, who lives abroad, did not attend. He was represented by his lawyer Erselan Aktan, who asked the court to issue a letter rogatory for Bağdat’s statement to be taken abroad.

Accepting the lawyer’s request, the court ruled to lift the arrest warrant for Bağdat and set 3 February 2021 as the date for the next hearing.

Prosecutor seeks conviction for journalist Welat Öztekin

The second hearing in the trial of journalist Welat Öztekin’s trial on the charge of “terrorism propaganda” was held on 14 October 2020 at the 9th High Criminal Court of Diyarbakır. Öztekin, a former staff member of the shuttered Kurdish newspaper Azadiya Welat, is on trial over his social media posts.

Öztekin did not attend the hearing, where he was represented by his lawyer Resul Tamur. Presenting their final opinion during the hearing, the prosecutor asked the court to convict Öztekin of “making systematic propaganda for a terrorist organization” pursuant to Article 7/2 of the Law on the Fight Against Terrorism (TMK).

Granting additional time for Öztekin’s defense statement in response to the prosecutor’s final opinion, the court adjourned the trial until 30 November 2020.

Öztekin was briefly arrested earlier this year in Istanbul after he failed to attend the first hearing of his trial in June.

RTÜK imposes administrative fine on Halk TV

The Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) ruled to impose an administrative fine on Halk TV over televised comments during a recent program by a guest about MHP Chairman Devlet Bahçeli.

Lawsuit against journalist Hazal Ocak adjourned

A lawsuit filed against journalist Hazal Ocak by the local Şahinbey Municipality in Gaziantep was scheduled to get under way on 14 October 2020 at the Gaziantep 6th Civil Court. The municipality is seeking TL 20,000 in compensation over a news report by Ocak, published in Cumhuriyet daily, about a public tender organized by the municipality. Accepting letters of excuse submitted by the lawyers representing both parties, the court postponed the lawsuit until 25 November 2020.

Taraf trial adjourned until December

The trial of former Taraf executives Ahmet Altan, Yasemin Çongar, Yıldıray Oğur and reporter Mehmet Baransu over the alleged publication of a confidential military document called “Egemen operation plan” resumed on 12 and 13 October 2020 at the 13th High Criminal Court of Istanbul.

Baransu, the only jailed defendant in the case, addressed the court from the Silivri Prison via the judicial video-conferencing network SEGBİS. Altan, Çongar and Oğur were represented by their lawyers while Suat Aytın, a retired general who requested to be a participant in the trial, was also in the courtroom.

The prosecutor requested the continuation of Baransu’s detention on remand, citing “flight risk” and the classification of the imputed offense, and asked the court to reject Baransu’s motion for further investigation of evidence. The prosecutor also asked the court to deliver the case file to the prosecution for the preparation of their final opinion.

Issuing an interim decision, the court ordered the continuation of Baransu’s detention. Rejecting the requests to revoke the participants’ standing at this point, the court ruled to inquire of the Istanbul 1st Criminal Judgeship of Peace about requests for search warrants issued during the initial investigation, and to ask the Mersin 2nd High Criminal Court for a copy of their reasoned judgment in writing concerning the file against Baransu. The court also ruled to watch footage of the search conducted in the apartment of Baransu’s ex-wife and listen to a tape confiscated during the search.

The court set 9 December 2020 as the date for the next hearing.

A report about the hearing, monitored by P24, can be accessed here.

Regional court upholds convictions in Sözcü trial

The 27th Criminal Chamber of the Istanbul Regional Court of Justice on 13 October 2020 upheld the judgment rendered by the 37th High Criminal Court of Istanbul last year in the Sözcü trial.

Seven columnists, executives and staff members of Sözcü newspaper were handed down prison sentences ranging between 2 years and 1 month and 3 years and 6 months on the charge of “aiding a terrorist organization without being its member” at the final hearing of the trial on 27 December 2019. 

The case file will next be reviewed by the Supreme Court of Appeals.

Journalist Özgür Boğatekin faces new indictment

Özgür Boğatekin, the news director of the Adıyaman-based local newspaper Gerger Fırat, is charged with “terrorism propaganda” and “exposing persons involved in the fight against terrorism” in a new indictment issued by the Tunceli Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office over two news items Boğatekin posted on Facebook in 2017.

Bianet reported this week that the new file against Boğatekin has been merged with an ongoing trial overseen by the Adıyaman 2nd High Criminal Court, where Boğatekin is charged with “terrorism propaganda.”

The trial in Adıyaman had actually concluded and Boğatekin received a prison sentence of 18 months and 22 days. When his lawyers appealed the judgment, the regional court of appeals overturned the judgment and ruled for a retrial, saying an ongoing investigation against Boğatekin in Tunceli should also be taken into consideration. When the trial court in Adıyaman inquired of the Tunceli Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office about the investigation against Boğatekin, they were sent an indictment. The trial was originally scheduled to get under way in June, but was postponed until 13 October 2020 due to the pandemic. The next hearing is set for 19 November 2020.

Ferhat Tunç’s trial on “insult” charge adjourned until May

The second hearing in exiled musician Ferhat Tunç’s trial on the charge of “insulting a public official” took place on 13 October 2020 at Istanbul’s Büyükçekmece 16th Criminal Court of First Instance. The indictment accuses Tunç of “insulting” former Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım on social media. The court ruled to wait for the response to the letters rogatory and adjourned the trial until 27 May 2021.

Court merges 2 files against Rojhat Doğru, lifts judicial control measures

The eighth hearing in journalist Rojhat Doğru’s trial over footage he recorded during 2014’s Kobani protests took place on 13 October 2020 at Diyarbakır’s 8th High Criminal Court. Doğru is charged with “disrupting the unity of the state,” “membership of a terrorist group,” “terrorism propaganda” and “willful injury” in this trial.

Doğru and his lawyer Resul Tamur were in attendance during the hearing. The panel ruled to merge another indictment where Doğru is charged with “membership of a terrorist organization” for sending money to an inmate in the Silivri Prison with the present case. Ruling to lift the judicial control measures imposed on Doğru, the court adjourned the trial until 14 January 2021.

Journalist Arafat Dayan sentenced to 5 years and 10 months in retrial

Journalist Arafat Dayan was handed down a combined prison sentence of 5 years and 10 months on two separate charges on 13 October 2020, at what marked the final hearing of his retrial by the 23rd High Criminal Court of Istanbul.

Dayan, the former managing editor of Özgür Gündem daily's weekly supplement Demokratik Ulus, was handed down 2 years and 4 months in prison for “printing or publishing declarations of terrorist organizations” and 3 years and 6 months for “terrorism propaganda.”

The case against Dayan was originally based on eight separate indictments merged into one. In May 2015, Dayan was sentenced to 5 years and 10 months in prison for “spreading propaganda for a terrorist organization” at the final hearing of the original case. After his conviction was upheld in May 2016, Dayan was sent to prison to serve his sentence. Dayan's lawyers requested a retrial based on the 2019 amendment to Article 7/2 of the Anti-Terror Law as part of the First Judicial Reform Package and Dayan was released from prison when the trial court agreed to hold a retrial.

BirGün editors and executives acquitted in “Fuat Avni” trial

BirGün daily executives İbrahim Aydın and Bülent Yılmaz and editors Barış İnce and Can Uğur appeared before the 32nd High Criminal Court of Istanbul on 13 October 2020 for the fifth hearing of their trial on the charge of “aiding a terrorist organization without being its member” over the newspaper’s coverage of Twitter posts by the anonymous account “Fuat Avni.”

Announcing its judgment after hearing the final defense statements by Aydın, Yılmaz, İnce and Uğur, the court acquitted all four defendants. İnce was also acquitted of the additional charge of “membership of a terrorist organization,” for which posts by the Twitter account named “Kaç Saat Oldu” were held as evidence. The court ruled for İnce’s acquittal for lack of convincing evidence.

Trial of former TV10 staff members adjourned 

The sixth hearing in the trial of former TV10 staff members Kemal Demir and Kemal Karagöz on the charge of “membership of a terrorist organization” was held on 13 October 2020 at the 28th High Criminal Court of Istanbul.

Demir did not attend the hearing, where Karagöz and defense lawyers were in attendance. The prosecutor asked the court to wait for the execution of the arrest warrant for witness Şükrü Yıldız to testify in court.

Issuing an interim ruling, the court ordered the continuation of the international travel ban imposed on Demir and Karagöz and decided to wait for the execution of the arrest warrant for Yıldız. The court set 26 January 2021 as the date for the next hearing.

Deniz Yücel’s trial adjourned until September 2021

The third hearing in journalist Deniz Yücel’s trial on the charge of “insulting a public official” was held on 13 October 2020 at Istanbul’s 24th Criminal Court of First Instance. P24 monitored the hearing. The court ruled to issue a letter rogatory for Yücel’s statement to be taken in Germany and adjourned the trial until 9 September 2021.

Trial of Osman Akın and Veysi Sarısözen adjourned

The fifth hearing in Yeni Yaşam newspaper’s former responsible editor Osman Akın and columnist Veysi Sarısözen’s trial on the charge of “terrorism propaganda” took place on 13 October 2020 at the 13th High Criminal Court of Istanbul. They are on trial over articles published in the newspaper’s 8 October 2018 issue. Accepting letters of excuse submitted by Akın and Sarısözen’s lawyers, the court postponed the trial until a later date.

Journalist Uğur Güç’s trial on “insult” charge adjourned

Journalist Uğur Güç appeared before the Anadolu 29th Criminal Court of First Instance on 12 October 2020 for the latest hearing of his trial on the charge of “insulting a public official.” Güç is on trial over a news report published in July 2019 on the news portal Sol Haber Portalı. He is accused of “insulting” President Erdoğan’s lawyer.

Presenting their final opinion during the hearing, the prosecutor asked the court to acquit Güç. Granting Erdoğan’s lawyer additional time for his statement in response to the prosecutor’s final opinion, the court adjourned the trial until 17 November 2020.

At least 89 journalists and media workers in prison 

As of 16 October 2020, at least 89 journalists and media workers are in prison in Turkey, either in pre-trial detention or serving a sentence.

The full list can be accessed here.



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