Imprisoned reporter İdris Sayılgan ordered to remain behind bars in the second hearing of the case against him
İdris Sayılgan, a reporter for the shuttered Dicle News Agency (DİHA), on February 19, 2018, appeared in the second hearing of a case in which he is accused of “membership in a terrorist organization.”
Sayılgan appeared in the hearing at the second High Criminal Court of Muş via the courtroom video-conferencing system SEGBİS from the Trabzon Prison, where he is currently jailed pending trial.
P24 followed the hearing at the courtroom.
Sayılgan is standing trial in the case alongside five others, four of whom are also in pretrial detention.
The prosecutor requested the continuation of detention of all jailed defendants in the hearing.
Sayılgan said in his defense that his previous defense statements were not put in the court minutes. He asserted that 57 pages of the 67-page long indictment against him and his co-defendants were based on wiretap recordings and that in the section of the wiretaps about him there was no element of crime.
Also noting that the statute of limitations to open investigations into his news reports have expired as per Turkey’s Press Law, Sayılgan said the indictment against him alleged that his news stories were aimed at serving the goals of the PKK/KCK. Sayılgan said: “I am being made to look as though I were a journalist [working] for the organization, but I am only a journalist. My work is not by any means in connection with the organization.”
Sayılgan concluded his defense by requesting his acquittal and release from prison.
Addressing the court after Sayılgan, his lawyer, Barış Oflas, added that his client was a critical journalist and that Sayılgan was standing trial on account of his journalistic activities. He said Sayılgan’s right to freedom of expression was being violated and requested his client’s release on judicial control terms by reason of his lengthy pretrial detention.
Issuing an interim decision, the court ruled for the continuation of detention for all imprisoned suspects including Sayılgan, and adjourned the trial to May 23.
Court sentences the Altan brothers and Ilıcak to life in prison
Journalists and columnists Ahmet Altan, Mehmet Altan, Nazlı Ilıcak and three other co-defendants were handed down aggravated life sentences for “attempting to overthrow the constitutional order” at the last hearing of the case against them on February 16.
A detailed report on the story, in English, as well as the full text of the court’s verdict, in Turkish, can be found here.
Two journalists for Mezopotamya agency briefly detained
Elif Çetiner, the responsible managing editor for the Mezopotamya news agency (MA), and reporter Melike Ceyhan, were briefly taken into custody on February 18 in İstanbul’s Beyoğlu district. The two journalists were released in the afternoon.
Çetiner and Ceyhan were in the Hacı Ahmet neighborhood in Beyoğlu when they were stopped by police on grounds of a “tip-off” and taken into custody, after which the two journalists were taken to the Kasımpaşa Police Station. The two journalists were released following police interrogation.
It has been reported that the tip-off against the two journalists said they “had been conducting interviews on the subject of Afrin.”
Journalist acquitted of “insulting the President”
Journalist Ertuğrul Mavioğlu on February 15, 2018, was acquitted in the first hearing of a trial in which he faced up to four years and eight months in prison on the charge of “insulting the president.”
The Istanbul 33rd Criminal Court of First Instance acquitted Mavioğlu of the charge, which was based on a message he had shared on Twitter on July 20, 2015, following a suicide attack that killed 33 people among a group of young activists who had gathered in the town of Suruç in the Urfa province to provide aid to Kobane across the Syrian border.
“Take your 400 deputies, give us back our 30 children you vile murderer,” Mavioğlu had tweeted.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was a plaintiff in the case.
Mavioğlu said during the February 15 hearing that at the time of the incident social media trolls were defending the attack. “I and many people like me have been put on trial for messages condemning [the attack]. But isn’t it strange that there is not even a single investigation into those who supported the massacre […] in a country where it is claimed at every given opportunity that there is the rule of law?” he said.
Mavioğlu also criticized the prosecutor Umut Tepe who wrote the indictment for mistakenly indicating that Mavioğlu’s tweet of 2015 was dated 2016.
Three Academics for Peace appear at first hearings
Three academics from the Yıldız Technical University (YTÜ) and Kadir Has University appeared at the first hearing of the trials against them on February 15, heard by the 34th and 36th High Criminal Courts of Istanbul. The courts rejected the lawyers’ requests for acquittal in all three cases. The trials were adjourned to September and November.
The “academics trials,” filed against the signatories of January 2016’s Academics for Peace petition, signed by 1,128 academics in Turkey, started to be heard on December 5, 2017. Individual lawsuits have been opened against at least 148 of the academics so far. The indictment accuses the signatories of the petition of “conducting propaganda for a terrorist organization.”
2 arrested in İzmir for social media posts
Two people in İzmir were jailed on February 15 on account of their social media posts criticizing Turkey’s ongoing military operation on the Syrian town Afrin. Two other people were released on judicial control terms.
On February 19, the Interior Ministry said in its weekly press release posted on its official website that since the launch of Turkey’s “Operation Olive Branch” on the Syrian town of Afrin on January 20, 2018, some “85 demonstrations have been organized and 587 propaganda [posts] on social media” have been detected. “A total of 786 suspects [who have taken part in] demonstrations and [conducted] propaganda [against the operation on Afrin] have been taken into custody,” the ministry explained.
Die Welt journalist Deniz Yücel released from Silivri
Deniz Yücel, German Die Welt newspaper’s correspondent in Turkey who had been in pretrial detention in Istanbul’s Silivri Prison since February 2017 without any charges brought against him, was released on February 16, one day after bilateral talks in Berlin between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Turkey’s Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım.
For a detailed report, click here.
The release of Deniz Yücel from Silivri Prison has brought the number of journalists in prison in Turkey to 155. The full list can be seen here.
For a full list of all the imprisoned journalists in Turkey, visit this spreadsheet. Lists of all of the foundations and associations as well as media outlets shut down can also be found at the same link, although on different tabs of the same spreadsheet.