Alptekin Dursunoğlu, who was jailed pending trial on 1 March on charge of “incitement to hatred and animosity,” sentenced for “praising an offense or an offender”
Journalist Alptekin Dursunoğlu, who was jailed pending trial on 1 March 2020, appeared before Istanbul’s 49th Criminal Court of First Instance on 16 March for the first hearing of his trial on the charge of “incitement to hatred and animosity.”
Dursunoğlu, the editor-in-chief of the news portal Yakın Doğu Haber (Near East News), was accused on account of two Twitter posts he had shared in late February about the Turkish Armed Forces’ (TSK) operations in the Syrian city of Idlib.
P24 monitored the hearing. Turkish Journalists Union (TGS) President Gökhan Durmuş was also among spectators, as well as Dursunoğlu’s family members.
Dursunoğlu addressed the court from the Silivri Prison via the judicial video-conferencing system SEGBİS while his lawyers were in attendance in the courtroom.
The hearing took place on the same day as public courtroom hearings and other legal processes at the Istanbul Courthouse — except hearings of jailed persons — were temporarily put on hold until 14 April 2020 as a precaution against the Covid-19 epidemic. Citing the epidemic, the judge announced at the beginning of the hearing that no spectators other than Dursunoğlu’s family would be allowed inside the courtroom. The judge also asked Dursunoğlu’s lawyers to keep their defense statements brief.
Dursunoğlu told the court in his defense statement that his social media posts were aimed at informing the public and that he had no intention of crime, asking to be acquitted and released.
Dursunoğlu’s lawyer Gürkan Biçen told the court that the public prosecutor who issued the indictment against Dursunoğlu had failed to include matters in favor of his client in the document, adding that the allegations against his client were not based on concrete evidence. Biçen asked the court to release his client pending trial.
Kemal Aytaç, another lawyer representing Dursunoğlu, told the court that the objective elements of the alleged offense were not present.
The judge then gave Dursunoğlu an additional turn to address the court in response to the charge of “praising an offense or an offender” under Article 215 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK). Dursunoğlu told the court that he reiterated his previous defense statement and asked to be acquitted.
Issuing its verdict at the end of the hearing, the court sentenced Dursunoğlu to 50 days in prison on the charge of “praising an offense or an offender.” The court commuted Dursunoğlu’s sentence to a judicial fine of TL 1,000 and ordered his release.