Arrest warrant for Ragıp Zarakolu lifted in sixth hearing of Özgür Gündem case, trial adjourned to June 4 

The sixth hearing in the case against nine journalists and writers on the advisory board of the shuttered Özgür Gündem newspaper was held on March 6 at the Istanbul Courthouse.

The 23rd High Criminal Court of Istanbul lifted the arrest warrant against advisory board member Ragıp Zarakolu at the hearing, monitored by P24 in the courtroom.

All nine defendants in the case, author Aslı Erdoğan, linguist Necmiye Alpay, journalists Ragıp Zarakolu, Bilge Contepe, Filiz Koçali, editor-in-chief Bilir Kaya, the holder of the newspaper’s publication rights, Kemal Sancılı, the paper’s Responsible Managing Editor İnan Kızılkaya and lawyer and former co-editor-in-chief Eren Keskin, are charged with “membership in a terrorist organization,” “damaging the unity of the state,” “conducting propaganda for a terrorist organization” and “establishing an organization for the purpose of committing crime.”

Alpay, Sancılı and Kızılkaya, who was released pending trial at the previous hearing following 441 days of pretrial detention, attended the March 6 hearing along with the defendants’ lawyers.

The lawyers requested the lifting of the judicial control terms imposed on Eren Keskin, as well as of the arrest warrant against Ragıp Zarakolu, on grounds that the court had been notified of his address of residence in Sweden.

Issuing an interim decision at the end of the hearing, the court ruled for the continuation of the judicial control terms imposed on Keskin, and the lifting of the arrest warrant for Zarakolu. Zarakolu will give his statement via video teleconferencing system. The court adjourned the trial to June 4.

Trial of reporters who covered sexual abuse in school continues 

The third hearing in a trial in which journalists Erhan Akbaş and İdris Yılmaz stand accused of “insult and slander through press” for their coverage of a sexual abuse scandal in a school in the eastern town of Erciş in the Van province was held on March 6, 2018, at the Erciş 1st Criminal Court of First Instance.

The case was launched in 2017, after the National Education District Director in Erciş, Erol Şimşek, filed a criminal complaint against the journalists following their reporting.

Akbaş and his lawyer were in attendance at Tuesday’s hearing while Yılmaz, currently in prison on remand as part of a separate case, did not attend.

Addressing the court during the hearing, Akbaş said he and Yılmaz were put on trial for lifting the lid on a matter that is of public interest. “We are being tried for our journalistic activities. … Those who need to be put on trial here are not us, but the abusers and those who protect them,” Akbaş added.

Following the completion of the defense statements, the court adjourned the trial to June 5.

Jin News reporter Durket Süren released from custody

Durket Süren, a reporter for the feminist news outlet Jin News who was taken into custody on March 1 in Diyarbakır, was released on March 5, following four days in custody.

Süren was arrested on grounds of a search warrant against her and taken to the Diyarbakır Police Department. She was referred to a court on March 5. The accusations against Süren are “conducting propaganda for a terrorist organization,” “membership in a terrorist organization” and “violating the Law on the Prevention of the Financing of Terrorism.” The court released Süren, imposing an overseas travel ban on the journalist.

Syrian reporters briefly detained in Ankara 

Two reporters from the Syrian state television were briefly detained by the police on March 5 in Ankara in front of the People’s Democratic Party (HDP) headquarters as they were leaving the building following an interview with the party’s co-chairman Sezai Temelli.

The journalists were reportedly taken into custody as they were shooting photographs of the building. The journalists were released from custody three hour later.

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.