Mezopotamya news agency reporters Sadiye Eser and Sadık Topaloğlu were arrested on 3 December 2019 on the charge of “membership of a terrorist group”
Sadiye Eser and Sadık Topaloğlu, two reporters for Mezopotamya news agency, who were jailed pending trial on 3 December 2019, appeared before the 22nd High Criminal Court of Istanbul on 26 March 2020 for the first hearing of their trial on the charge of “membership of a terrorist group.”
Eser and Topaloğlu addressed the court via the judicial video-conferencing system SEGBİS. The journalists were represented in the courtroom by their lawyers Özcan Kılıç, Sercan Korkmaz and Ayşe Acinikli. No spectators of press members were allowed in the courtroom as part of precautions against the spread of Covid-19.
Addressing the court for her defense statement, Eser rejected the accusation and asserted that her overseas travels, held as evidence against her in the indictment, were either aimed at visiting relatives or for journalistic purposes. Topaloğlu, who addressed the court in Kurdish via an interpreter, also told the court that his overseas travels were part of his journalistic work and rejected the accusation.
Following the journalists’ statements, the court heard the testimony of a witness named Dilek Akyol, who told the court that she did not know either journalist and that she only knew about them based on hearsay.
Eser and Topaloğlu’s lawyers requested the court to release their clients. The prosecution requested the continuation of their pre-trial detention on the grounds that judicial control measures would be inadequate.
Issuing an interim ruling at the end of the hearing, the court released Eser and Topaloğlu under an international travel ban. Both journalists will also be subject to a judicial control measure in the form of reporting to the nearest police station once a month to give their signatures. The court set 15 October 2020 as the date for the second hearing.