Documentarist, video-activist and journalist Kazım Kızıl was arrested by the police on 17 April 2017 during a demonstration held in protest of the 16 April 2017 constitutional referendum results in the Bornova district of the western province of Izmir, along with journalist Anıl Deveci and 19 protesters.
Kızıl and the others were taken into custody on charges of violating Turkey’s Law No. 2911 on Demonstrations and Protest Marches. However, when he was referred to the prosecutor’s office and later to the court on 21 April 2017, Kızıl was jailed pending trial on the charge of “insulting the president.” Six others were jailed by court order while the other protesters and journalist Deveci were released under judicial control measures.
The indictment against Kızıl accused him of “insulting the president” on social media as well as “violating the Law on Demonstrations and Protest Marches.” The prosecutor demanded between two years and six months to seven years of imprisonment for Kızıl.
Kızıl appeared before the Izmir 33rd Criminal Court of First Instance on 10 July 2017 for the first courtroom hearing of his trial. In his defense statement, Kızıl said he was following the 17 April protest as a journalist. He also noted that his tweets that were said to be insulting the president fell under the scope of freedom of speech, adding that none of them contained calls to violence or hate speech.
The court ruled to release Kızıl and the remaining six protesters from pre-trial detention under judicial control measures and adjourned the trial until 16 October 2017.
At the second hearing on 16 October, the court accepted President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s motion to become an intervening party in the case, and adjourned the trial until 15 January 2018.
Kızıl and his co-defendants’ trial resumed on 16 April 2018. The Izmir 33rd Criminal Court of First Instance set 4 June 2018 as the date for the next hearing.
Neither Kızıl nor his lawyer were in attendance at the 4 June 2018 hearing. Kızıl’s co-defendants and their lawyers addressed the court during the hearing, requesting to be acquitted. After hearing the defense statements, the court adjourned the trial until 1 October 2018.
During the 10th hearing in the case, held on 18 March 2019, defense lawyers who examined the expert report submitted to the court concerning the footage of the protest said the accusations leveled against the defendants were not detectable in the said footage. The lawyers asked the court to acquit Kazım Kızıl, Baran Ateş and Özgür Mert. In its interim ruling, the court adjourned the trial until 19 June 2019.
Kızıl, who is also one of the founding members of the “Kamera Sokak (Camera Street)” citizen-journalist collective, was in attendance at the 11th hearing of the case, held on 19 June 2019. Rendering its verdict at the end of the hearing, the İzmir 33rd Criminal Court of First Instance acquitted Kızıl of “violating the Law on Demonstrations and Protest Marches” but convicted him of “insulting the president,” handing down a prison term of 1 year, 3 months and 16 days. The court did not defer the sentence but ruled that Kızıl would not go back to prison, given the time he spent in pre-trial detention during the earlier stages of the trial.