An expert opinion concerning the trial, penned by the British freedom of expression advocacy organization Article 19, submitted to court during the hearing

The trial of journalist Fatih Polat, the editor-in-chief of Evrensel daily, on the charge of “insulting the president” resumed on 14 May at the Bakırköy 31st Criminal Court of First Instance.

Polat is standing trial over his article titled “Erdoğan ailesiyle ilgili bu iddialara muhatapları ne diyor?” (What do those addressed say about these allegations concerning the Erdoğan family?), published in the newspaper on 28 May 2017.

An Istanbul court had ordered the column be removed from the Evrensel website. The newspaper’s lawyers objected to the court order, but their objection was rejected and the article was subsequently removed from the website. After the removal of the article, lawyers representing President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan filed a lawsuit against Polat for the column.

P24 monitored the second hearing, where Polat and his lawyers Devrim Avcı and Mustafa Söğütlü were in attendance. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) Turkey Representative Erol Önderoğlu, Turkish Journalists Union (TGS) Chairman Gökhan Durmuş as well as a number of journalists also monitored the hearing.

Lawyer Devrim Avcı submitted to the court the original news report published in the website theblacksea.eu, that was the source of Polat’s article. Avcı added that the news report was still accessible online.

Avcı also submitted to the court an expert opinion concerning Polat’s case that was penned by the London-based human rights organization Article 19. Avcı told the court that the expert opinion by Article 19 demonstrated that Craig Shaw’s news report, which Polat quoted in its entirety in his article, was nominated for the British Journalism Awards in England and the European Press Prize.

The full expert opinion by Article 19 can be accessed here.

After accepting the documents submitted by the defense lawyers, the court issued an interim ruling, in which the judge ruled to send a memo to the Journalists’ Association of Turkey (TGC) and the TGS, seeking their opinion about the legitimacy of the website theblacksea.eu and about whether Craig Shaw is a journalist or not.

The court then adjourned the trial until 17 September 2019.

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