Öztürk is accused of “aiding a terrorist organization” on account of her journalistic work exploring the 15 July 2016 coup attempt and her social media posts

 

Ece Sevim Öztürk, the editor in chief of the news website Çağdaş Ses, who has been jailed pending trial since June, on 1 November appeared before an Istanbul court for the first hearing of her trial.

Öztürk is accused of “aiding a terrorist organization” on account of her journalistic work exploring the 15 July 2016 coup attempt and her social media posts.

P24 monitored the hearing at the 37th High Criminal Court of Istanbul.

Making her defense statement during the hearing, Öztürk told the court that she was an investigative journalist and that she had been in jail for five months for her journalistic work. Explaining that she had been trying for a year to unravel the less explored parts of the 15 July coup attempt, Öztürk said she wrote in her news stories about the shortcomings of the judiciary, but that she did not aim to harm the reputation of the courts.

Also speaking about her social media posts for which she is indicted, Öztürk said those were her personal opinions concerning rights violations such as lengthy detention periods, and an exercising of her right to freedom of expression.

“I stand behind every single news story I wrote and every single tweet I posted, but none of them included any criminal intent. I was just practicing journalism,” Öztürk said.

Addressing the court following Öztürk, her lawyer Efkan Bolaç said the indictment did not include any evidence to link Öztürk with a criminal organization and requested that his client be acquitted and released. Other defense lawyers also argued that indictments such as the one against Öztürk were aimed at intimidating independent journalists to prevent them from covering certain topics.

The prosecution then requested for the continuation of Öztürk’s detention. Announcing its interim ruling at the end of the hearing, the court ordered the continuation of Öztürk’s pretrial detention and adjourned the trial until 11 December 2018.