Court rejects requests to identify who made the tip off against Seda Taşkın
ÖZGÜN ÖZÇER – MUŞ
Mezopotamya news agency reporter Seda Taşkın will remain in jail after the second hearing of her trial held on July 2, 2018, in a case that caused much controversy over a tip off made from a police email address. The 2nd High Criminal Court of Muş ordered the continuation of Taşkın’s detention while rejecting her lawyers’ demand to identify the person who made the tip off against the reporter. Taşkın, who has been in detention pending trial at the Sincan Women’s Closed Prison Facility in Ankara since January 23, will appear before the court again on September 12.
Speaking via videolink from the prison in Ankara where she remains detained, Taşkın said she had been under custody for six months for merely being a journalist. “The price of doing my job in difficult conditions shouldn’t be this,” she said. “I love my job,” she added.
Taşkın also responded to the accusations that “Seda” is a code name, her name on her identity card being “Seher.” She said disproving this claim couldn’t be easier. “You can see that all my relatives and friends call me Seda in every letter that has been sent to me or during phone calls,” she said. “Even my grandfather had to wait for a long time when he came to see me in prison as he asked for me as Seda,” she said.
Lawyer questions the neutrality of court
Taşkın’s lawyer Gulan Çağın Kaleli denounced the court’s refusal of her request that the identity of the person who had made the initial tip off against Taşkın would be made public. When the accusatory tip off was made last December, Taşkın was reporting in the eastern city of Muş.
A document in the case file on the anonymous tip off, sent through mail, showed that the sender’s blurred email address had an “egm” extension, commonly used by members of the police department. The lawyer said during the first hearing of the trial that the document clearly showed that the tip off was fabricated by the police, the court, however, rejected the request that the claim should be investigated.
Kaleli said he was renewing her request. “But this time, I make a small change in my demand. We are not asking to identify the computer but the name of the police officer from the anti-terror unit in Muş who sent the email,” she said. “If our demand is rejected, it will raise serious doubts on the neutrality of your court.”
Kaleli also said the allegation that “Seda” is a code name was absurd. “What kind of person with a code name opens a social media account with her own pictures? Seda Taşkın is not only my client but also my friend and all her relatives and friends know her as Seda,” Kaleli said.
Stressing that Taşkın had complied with judicial control terms prior to her arrest, Kaleli demanded the reporter’s release and acquittal.
In its interim ruling, the court ruled to continue Taşkın’s detention and refused to identify the person who sent the tip off. The court, however, agreed to consider the prison records as evidence regarding the claim that the reporter’s name is a code name.
Taşkın was arrested on charges of “conducting propaganda for a terrorist organization” on 20 December 2017, in the city of Muş where she had come to report on a story. She was released four days later under judicial control measures. Following the prosecutor’s appeal, Taşkın was re-arrested on 23 January in Ankara and sent to pre-trial detention with the additional charge of “membership in a terrorist organization.” The indictment issued by a prosecutor in Muş is almost entirely based on her re-tweets and other posts on social media. During the first hearing of the trial on April 30, Taşkın had denounced physical and psychological ill-treatment while she was in custody in Muş.