Journalists Kemal Özer, İdris Sayılğan remain behind bars; actors Metin Akpınar, Müjdat Gezen give statement at courthouse over televised remarks; Nazlı Ilıcak convicted of “insulting the president” charge

The fourth hearing in the case where jailed journalist Kemal Özer, the Evrensel daily’s Tunceli correspondent, stands accused of “membership in a terrorist group” took place on 28 December at the 1st High Criminal Court of Tunceli.

Addressing the court for his defense statement during the hearing, Özer said he had been acquitted in a previous case that was based on false allegations and said that this case too was based on false statements against him. Özer requested to be acquitted.

His lawyers also addressed the court and highlighted his lengthy pre-trial detention.

In its interim ruling at the end of the hearing, the court ruled to keep Özer behind bars and adjourned the trial until 21 January 2019. Özer has been jailed since 4 September 2017.

Twitter user fined for “insulting religion”

An individual who goes by the initials E.P., who is the user of the parody account on Twitter nicknamed “Allah C.C.” (which means “God, glory be to him”) was convicted of “insulting religious values” on social media.

The 3rd Criminal Court of First Instance of Muş initially gave E.P. an 11-month and 20-day prison term for “insulting religious values and sharing insults against religion in publications.” The court commuted the jail term to a fine of TL 7,000.

Turkish Medical Association Central Committee trial gets under way

The trial into 11 members of the Turkish Medical Association’s (TTB) Central Committee on charges of “inciting the public to hatred and animosity” and “disseminating propaganda for a terrorist organization” on account of an anti-war declaration they issued in January got under way on 27 December in Ankara.

An investigation had been launched into the members of the committee after the TTB issued a declaration titled “War is a public health problem” on 24 January 2018 in response to Turkey’s military operation on the Syrian town of Afrin. The trial is the outcome of that investigation.

The defendants in the case, overseen by the 32nd High Criminal Court of Ankara, are Professor Raşit Tükel, the former president of the TTB, and 10 other former and current members of the committee: Sezai Berber, Sinan Adıyaman, Selma Güngör, Şeyhmus Gökalp, Hande Arpat, Ayfer Horasan, Taner Gören, Funda Obuz, Yaşar Ulutaş and Nazım Yılmaz.

All 11 defendants and their lawyers were in attendance at the courtroom in the first hearing, where they presented their defense statements.

The prosecution submitted their final opinion of the case during the hearing, requesting that all 11 doctors be given up to 6 years in prison as per Article 216 of the Turkish Penal Code. The prosecutor also requested that Hande Arpat is given an additional sentence on the charge of “successively disseminating propaganda for a terrorist organization.”

The prosecution claimed that the doctors committed the offense of “inciting the public to hatred and animosity” in a previous declaration the TTB issued on 1 September 2016, and that they committed the same offense for a second time with the declaration they issued on 24 January 2018.

Announcing its interim ruling at the end of the hearing, the court granted continuance for the defendants to prepare their defense statements in response to the prosecution’s final opinion and set 20 March 2019 as the date for the second hearing.

New “Paradise Papers” case against Pelin Ünker gets under way

Journalist Pelin Ünker on 27 December appeared before an Istanbul court for the first hearing of a case where she is accused of “insulting a public official” in her coverage of the “Paradise Papers” leaks, published in 2017 in the Cumhuriyetdaily.

The case was filed by Speaker of the Parliament, AKP’s nominee for Mayor of Istanbul in the upcoming local elections, and former Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım’s lawyer.

The court adjourned the trial until 8 January 2019 for Ünker’s final defense statement to be prepared. 

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

“Insulting the president” case against journalists adjourned

The trial where columnist and author Perihan Mağden and journalists Tunca Öğreten, Orhan Şahin and Mehmet Çağlar Tekin stand accused of “insulting the president” resumed on 27 December at the Istanbul 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance.

The charges stem from an interview with Mağden, posted on the news portal Diken.com.tr on 14 September 2015. Şahin and Tekin are on trial for posting the same interview on the website of the Yurtnewspaper.

During the 12th hearing on Thursday, defense lawyers requested additional time for final defense statements. The court accepted the requests and adjourned the trial until 10 January 2019.

Prosecution seeks prison terms for journalist Nuri Akman and 25 others

A case in which journalist Nuri Akman and 25 students from the İnönü University stand accused of “membership in a terrorist group” resumed on 27 December in the eastern province of Malatya.

None of the defendants attended the hearing at the 2nd High Criminal Court of Malatya. The hearing began with the reading out of court minutes from previous hearings because a new panel of judges was appointed to the case.

The prosecution then submitted their final opinion of the case, requesting the maximum sentence for each of the defendants in the case on the charge of “membership in a terrorist group.” The prosecutor claimed that the student association called ÖZÖ-DER under the İnönü University was “affiliated with a terrorist group” and that the press statements the students made on the campus were made “under orders from a terrorist group.”

The prosecutor also claimed that Akman was “part of the press committee of the terrorist organization.” Citing news stories and social media posts by the journalist as evidence, the prosecutor requested that Akman be convicted of “terrorist group membership”

Issuing an interim ruling at the end of the hearing, the court set 7 March 2019 as the date for the next hearing.

Four academics given jail terms for signing peace petition

Two courts in Istanbul convicted four more academics who were standing trial on the charge of “disseminating propaganda for a terrorist organization” for signing a 2016 petition by the Academics for Peace initiative.

On 27 December, academics Z.Ç., E.A. and Ayten Zara were each handed down a 15-month prison sentence while on 25 December D.Ü. was given 15 months in prison. All sentences were deferred.

Journalist Şirin Kabakçı released from pre-trial detention

The fourth hearing in a trial where journalist Şirin Kabakçı is accused of “membership in a terrorist organization” on account of his employment by the shuttered newspaper Zamanwas held on 26 December at the 35th High Criminal Court of Istanbul.

The court ruled at the end of the hearing to release Kabakçı from pre-trial detention in consideration of the time he spent in detention on remand. Kabakçı had been jailed since May 2017.

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

Nazlı Ilıcak handed down jail term for “insulting the president”

Jailed journalist Nazlı Ilıcak, who has been sentenced to aggravated life imprisonment on the charge of “attempting to overthrow the constitutional order,” was given yet another jail term in a case where she was accused of “insulting the president” via social media.

The accusation was based on a Twitter post by Ilıcak dated 23 February 2016.

During the final hearing of the case on 26 December, Ilıcak addressed the Anadolu 53rd Criminal Court of First Instance via the courtroom video-conferencing system SEGBİS from the Bakırköy Women’s Prison for her defense statement.

She told the court that the tweet for which she is accused was meant as a response to another Twitter user, and not as an insult to the president. Explaining that during the time Twitter allowed users to post tweets that are only 140 characters long, Ilıcak said she could not properly express her thoughts because of that limitation. Ilıcak requested to be acquitted.

Issuing its verdict at the end of the hearing, the court convicted Ilıcak and sentenced her to 1 year and 2 months in prison.

Yasin Kobulan’s trial on “propaganda” charge gets under way

Mezopotamya news agency (MA) reporter Yasin Kobulan appeared before an Istanbul court on 26 December for the first hearing of his trial on the charge of “disseminating propaganda for a terrorist organization” on social media.

The indictment claims that Kobulan “shared posts that made the Turkish military’s operations targeting terrorists in Southeast [Turkey] to look as though they were massacres, and that legitimized the terrorist group’s actions that involved violence.”

After the completion of defense statements, the prosecution submitted their final opinion of the case, requesting for Kobulan to be convicted of “successively disseminating propaganda for a terrorist organization.”

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

Journalist İdris Sayılğan remains behind bars

Journalist İdris Sayılğan, who has been in pre-trial detention for over two years, was ordered to remain behind bars at the end of the fifth hearing of his trial on the charge of “membership in a terrorist group.”

The hearing took place on 24 December at the 2nd High Criminal Court of Muş.

At the start of the hearing, Sayılğan’s lawyer addressed the court and requested a suspension by reason of judicial question on the grounds of an application they lodged with the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) concerning Sayılğan’s lengthy pre-trial detention.

The court rejected the request and went on to hear the prosecutor’s final opinion of the case. The prosecution requested that Sayılğan and other jailed defendants in the case be convicted of “membership in a terrorist group” and the continuation of their detention.

A report about the hearing can be accessed here.

Actors Metin Akpınar and Müjdat Gezen give statement in courthouse

Veteran stage and screen actors Metin Akpınar and Müjdat Gezen were taken into custody and brought to the Istanbul Anadolu Courthouse on 24 December to give their statements as part of an investigation launched into the actors on account of their remarks during a recent talk show broadcasted on an opposition TV station.

Akpınar and Gezen were both referred to a judgeship after their interrogation by the prosecutor at the courthouse, which lasted about an hour-and-a-half each. The court released both actors under judicial control measures in the form of reporting to the nearest police station every week and give their signature and a ban on traveling abroad.

Austrian journalist Max Zirngast freed from pre-trial detention

Austrian journalist Max Zirngast, who had been in pre-trial detention in Ankara since September, was released pending trial on 24 December. 

The 26th High Criminal Court of Ankara imposed on Zirngast an international travel ban and set 11 April 2019 as the date for the next hearing.

Mithatcan Türetken and Hatice Göz, two members of Toplumsal Özgürlük Partisi, a socialist political initiative, who were jailed along with Zirngast, were also released pending trial. All three are accused of “membership in a terrorist group” on the allegation that they are linked with the organization “TKP/Kıvılcım.” 

List of journalists and media workers in prison

P24 has updated its list of journalists and media workers in prison — a list compiled using information available in open sources.

Following Max Zirngast and Şirin Kabakçı’s release pending trial, and in light of information that came up during a recent scan of open sources, as of the last day of 2018, at least 161 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.

Pineapple
This website has been produced with the financial assistance of the European Union. The contents of this website are the sole responsibility of P24 and can under no circumstances be regarded as reflecting the position of the European Union.