Appellate court acquits the journalist of “aiding a terrorist organization” while sentencing her to 1 year, 11 months and 10 days in prison on the charge of “disseminating propaganda for a terrorist group”
The appellate court overseeing Mezopotamya news agency (MA) reporter Seda Taşkın’s appeal has overturned the trial court’s October 2018 verdict that sentenced the journalist to a total of 7.5 years in prison on two separate charges.
At the end of the second appeal hearing of Taşkın’s trial, held on 15 May 2019, the 6th Criminal Chamber of the Erzurum Regional Court of Justice acquitted the journalist of “aiding a terrorist organization without being its member” while giving her a prison sentence of 1 year, 11 months and 10 days on the charge of “disseminating propaganda for a terrorist organization.” The court deferred the sentence.
Taşkın addressed the 6th Criminal Chamber of the Erzurum Regional Court of Justice from the 4th High Criminal Court of Ankara via the courtroom video-conferencing system SEGBİS. P24 monitored the hearing from the courtroom in Ankara.
At the beginning of the hearing, the judges asked if the defendant Taşkın and her lawyers had additional defense statements to make since the continuance granted at the end of the first appeal hearing on 20 March.
Taşkın told the court that she was put on trial as a result of her journalistic work. “Journalism is not a crime,” Taşkın added.
In her statement, Taşkın’s lawyer Ebru Akkal made a reference to the Constitutional Court’s 9 May 2019 judgment in favor of school teacher Ayşe Çelik, who had been convicted of “propaganda” for televised comments. Akkal said: “We ask [the court] to apply those legal precedents that lay down extended boundaries for the right to freedom of expression in our case too.” Akkal requested Taşkın’s acquittal.
The court then asked Taşkın for her final words before the announcement of the verdict. Taşkın said all the accusations leveled against her were related to her journalistic work. Taşkın rejected the charges and requested to be acquitted.
Announcing its verdict at the end of the hearing, the 6th Criminal Chamber of the Erzurum Regional Court of Justice overturned the judgment of the 2nd High Criminal Court of Muş, which sentenced Taşkın to 4 years and 2 months in prison on the charge of “aiding a terrorist organization without being its member” and another 3 years and 4 months for “spreading propaganda for a terrorist organization.” The appellate court acquitted Taşkın of “aiding a terrorist organization,” however, it convicted her of “propaganda,” giving her a prison sentence of 1 year, 11 months and 10 days. The court deferred the sentence.