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25 October

Freedom of Expression and the Press in Turkey - 265

Sabiha Temizkan handed down 15-month sentence; Eren Keskin appears in court over social media posts; prosecutor seeks conviction for Onur Emre Yağan

https://expressioninterrupted.com/
 

 

Bloomberg trial adjourned until February

The trial of Bloomberg journalists Fercan Yalınkılıç and Kerim Karakaya on the charge of “violating the Capital Market Law” over an August 2018 report on Turkey’s 2018 currency crisis resumed on 23 October 2020 at Istanbul’s 3rd Criminal Court of First Instance.

Yalınkılıç and Karakaya are on trial alongside 36 others who commented on or shared the report on social media. Among them are journalists Sedef Kabaş and Merdan Yanardağ and economist and columnist Mustafa Sönmez.

P24 monitored the fourth hearing, where none of the journalists on trial were in attendance. Lawyer Mustafa Erdoğmuş, who represents Orçun Çakır, one of the defendants who are facing arrest warrants as part of the case, told the court that the indictment was issued before the completion of the investigation and asked the court to separate his client’s file and rule for his immediate acquittal.

Issuing an interim ruling, the court decided to send the case file to an expert and to wait for the execution of the arrest warrants issued for six defendants. The court set 26 February 2021 as the date for the next hearing.

Erk Acarer’s trial on “insulting the president” charge adjourned 

A trial where journalist Erk Acarer is charged with “insulting the president” over an article published on 6 October 2016 in BirGün daily resumed this week at Istanbul’s 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance. The court adjourned the trial until 19 January 2021. Acarer faces an arrest warrant as part of this case.

Access to JinNews blocked again

Access to the website of the all-female news agency JinNews was blocked on 22 October 2020 by a decision of the Van 2nd Criminal Judgeship of Peace. The latest court decision marked the 11th access ban order issued for JinNews.

Sabiha Temizkan sentenced to 1 year and 3 months over Twitter post

Journalist Sabiha Temizkan appeared before the Istanbul 35th High Criminal Court on 22 October 2020 for the fourth hearing of her trial on the charge of “making propaganda for a terrorist organization.” Temizkan is accused over a Twitter post she shared in 2014.

P24 monitored the hearing, where Temizkan and her lawyer were in attendance. Addressing the court for her defense statement, Temizkan asserted that the Twitter post for which she is accused was a news piece. She asked to be acquitted.

Issuing their judgment at the end of the hearing, the court sentenced Temizkan to 1 year and 3 months in prison for “terrorism propaganda.” The court did not defer the sentence. The panel ruled by a majority. One of the judges on the panel wrote in their dissenting opinion that Temizkan should have been acquitted.

Eren Keskin appears in court over social media posts

Lawyer and human rights activist Eren Keskin appeared before Istanbul’s 36th High Criminal Court on 22 October 2020 for the first hearing of her trial on the charge of “terrorism propaganda.” The accusation stems from Keskin’s social media posts.

P24 monitored the hearing, where Keskin and her lawyers were in attendance. 

The prosecution addressed the panel first, asking the court to rule for the file to be merged with an ongoing trial against Keskin that is overseen by the 13th High Criminal Court of Istanbul.

Issuing an interim decision after hearing Keskin’s defense statement, the court adjourned the trial until 24 December 2020 to deliberate on whether to merge the file with the trial overseen by the 13th High Criminal Court.

Alican Uludağ and Duygu Güvenç acquitted

The seventh hearing in the trial of journalists Alican Uludağ and Duygu Güvenç on the charge of “publicly denigrating the Turkish nation, the government of the Republic of Turkey and the institutions of the state” under Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) took place on 22 October 2020 at Istanbul’s 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance.

The journalists did not attend the hearing, where they were represented by their lawyers. Presenting his final opinion, the prosecutor asked the court to convict both journalists as charged. After hearing the final defense statements by Uludağ and Güvenç’s lawyers, the court issued its judgment, acquitting both journalists.

The accusation stemmed from Uludağ and Güvenç’s reports published in Cumhuriyet daily on the developments surrounding US pastor Andrew Brunson, who remained in pre-trial detention in Turkey for two years before being released in October 2018.

Alican Uludağ and Olcay Büyüktaş Akça’s trial gets underway

A trial where Alican Uludağ, a former reporter for Cumhuriyet daily, and Olcay Büyüktaş Akça, the newspaper’s responsible managing editor, are accused of “disclosing or publishing the identities of informants” got underway on 22 October 2020 at Istanbul’s 32nd High Criminal Court.

The accusation stems from a news report on the 2015 Ankara train station bombing trial, published on 22 November 2019.

P24 monitored the hearing. Issuing an interim ruling, the court decided to review the indictment for the Ankara train station bombing trial. Granting continuance for the final defense statements, the court adjourned the trial until 12 January 2021.

Prosecutor seeks conviction for Onur Emre Yağan

The trial of journalist Onur Emre Yağan over four social media posts he shared in 2014 and 2015 resumed on 22 October 2020 at Istanbul’s Anadolu 53rd Criminal Court of First Instance.

Yağan was not in attendance. The court did not allow spectators in the courtroom due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The prosecutor presented their final opinion, asking the court to convict Yağan of “insulting the president” despite a motion filed by President Erdoğan’s lawyer during the previous hearing, through which the president withdrew his complaint.

Granting Yağan additional time to prepare his statement in response to the prosecutor’s final opinion, the court adjourned the trial until 5 November 2020.

Digital equipment confiscated from journalists during Özgür Gündem raid goes missing

The seventh hearing in the trial of 22 journalists arrested during an August 2016 raid on the now-defunct Özgür Gündem newspaper took place on 22 October 2020 at Istanbul’s 5th Criminal Court of First Instance. The journalists are charged with “insult” and “resisting police officers to prevent them from performing their duties.”

Lawyers representing the journalists requested the return of digital equipment confiscated from their clients during the raid. Announcing that the said digital equipment has gone missing, the court panel ruled that the journalists will not be given their equipment back. The court set 16 February 2021 as the date for the next hearing.

Court rejects appeal against confiscation of Can Dündar’s assets

The 15th High Criminal Court of Istanbul has rejected an appeal by journalist Can Dündar’s lawyers against the confiscation of his assets.

On 7 October 2020, the 14th High Criminal Court of Istanbul formally declared Dündar a “fugitive” and ordered the confiscation of all properties owned by Dündar and bank accounts in his name, citing his failure to appear in court for his ongoing retrial in the “MİT trucks case.”

Reviewing the objection to the 14th High Criminal Court’s ruling, the next court of first instance held that the trial court’s judgment was lawful and rejected the objection.

Court decides to apply “simple trial procedure” in Hikmet Tunç’s trial

A trial where JinNews reporter Hikmet Tunç is accused of “insult” got underway on 21 October 2020 at the Muradiye Criminal Court of First Instance in the Van province. Tunç is accused of “insulting” Erkan Savar, the government-appointed trustee who replaced the mayor of Muradiye, in a news report published in May 2019.

The court decided to apply the “simple trial procedure,” which was introduced with the 1st Judicial Reform Package. Accordingly, the defendant and the complainant were asked to submit their statements and evidence to the court in writing within 15 days. The court will then review the case file and render its judgment in writing in 30 days.

Court rules to release 2 journalists jailed in Kocaeli

A court in Kocaeli ruled to release journalists Faruk Bostan and Bülent Karagöz, who were jailed pending trial on 28 September 2020 for “libel.” Bostan, the owner of local news portal Kocaeli Halk Gazetesi, and Bülent Karagöz, the portal’s managing editor, were jailed over the website’s coverage of allegations concerning a sexual assault case in the Kartepe district.

Karagöz was released from the Kandıra Prison on 21 October 2020. However, Bostan remained behind bars due to an 8-month sentence he was given in a previous case, filed by local Derince Mayor Zeki Aygün. Bostan’s lawyers filed for his release under probation. He was expected to be released on 22 October.

Retrial of musician Hozan Cane adjourned until February

The third hearing in Kurdish-German singer Hozan Cane’s (Saide İnaç) retrial on the charge of “aiding and abetting a terrorist organization” took place on 20 October 2020 at the Edirne 3rd High Criminal Court.

Hozan Cane and her lawyer were in attendance. Cane’s lawyer told the court that they would present a detailed defense statement later and requested Cane’s acquittal. The court set 9 February 2021 as the date for the next hearing.

Trial of journalist Abdullah Kaya adjourned until March

Former Dicle news agency (DİHA) reporter Abdullah Kaya’s trial on the charges of “aiding a terrorist organization without being a member” and “terrorism propaganda” resumed on 20 October 2020 at the Ağrı 2nd High Criminal Court.

This was the ninth hearing, where Kaya and his lawyer were in attendance. Issuing an interim ruling at the end of the hearing, the court ruled to further investigate Kaya’s previous social media posts and adjourned the trial until 4 March 2021.

Prosecutor seeks conviction for lawyers who protested 2015’s Ankara train station attack

The 20th hearing in the trial of 19 lawyers who are accused of “violating the Law on Public Assembly and Demonstrations” and “terrorism propaganda” for taking part in a demonstration in front of the Istanbul Courthouse on 12 October 2015 to protest the deadly Ankara train station attack of 2015 resumed this week in Istanbul.

The hearing took place on 20 October 2020 at the 13th High Criminal Court of Istanbul. Presenting their final opinion during the hearing, the prosecutor asked the court to convict all 19 lawyers as charged. Granting continuance for the preparation of defense statements in response to the prosecutor’s final opinion, the court adjourned the trial until 15 January 2021.

Newspaper distributor Tunçdemir arrested in Van

Mikail Tunçdemir, a Van-based former distributor for the Yeni Yaşam newspaper, was arrested on 19 October 2020 after reporting to the Van Police Department to give his statement as part of an investigation against the journalists who reported on the alleged torture of two villagers after they were arrested by troops in Van.

Tunçdemir was taken to the courthouse the next day to give his statement to a prosecutor, who reportedly questioned him about recordings of his phone calls. Tunçdemir was released on 20 October after giving his statement to the prosecutor.

At least 87 journalists and media workers in prison 

As of 23 October 2020, at least 87 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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