The prosecutor demanded Seda Taşkın’s conviction on charges of “terrorist group membership” and “propaganda.” She remains behind bars
ÖZGÜN ÖZÇER / MUŞ
The third hearing of the trial against Mezopotamya news agency reporter Seda Taşkın was heard on 12 September in the eastern province of Muş.
During the hearing, monitored in the courtroom by P24, the prosecutor submitted his final opinion during the hearing, asking for Taşkın’s conviction on charges of “membership in a terrorist organization” and committing “continuous propaganda for a terrorist organization.” The 2nd High Criminal Court of Muş, which oversees the case, adjourned the trial to 10 October 2018 to allow time for defense lawyers to prepare their statements against the prosecutor’s conviction demand.
The court also ordered Taşkın to remain in pretrial detention. Taşkın has been jailed since 22 January 2018.
“No journalist can do their job with these accusations”
Speaking from the Sincan Women’s Prison facility in Ankara where she remains jailed via the judicial teleconference system, Taşkın said all accusations against her stemmed from her journalistic work. “I am a journalist. I have been deprived of my freedom for doing my work. With these kinds of accusations, journalists will become unable to do their job,” said Taşkın, adding that none of her own reports had been used as evidence in the case against her. “I am primarily a culture reporter. When I was arrested in Muş, I came to interview the Culture and Solidarity Association at the district of Varto. But my interviews were not even included in the case file,” she said.
Taşkın’s lawyer Ebru Akkal expressed her indignation over the prosecutor’s final opinion. “All evidences presented from the first official report to the last document were debunked,” Akkal said, insisting that no new evidence was presented by prosecutors since Taşkın had been released four days after her initial arrest in Muş on December 2017.
“The person who did one of the news report my client has shared was acquitted, and my client is accused of membership in a terrorist organization. The person she interviewed has a record, still it’s my client who is accused of membership in a terrorist organization. Should she ask for a criminal record certificate before making interviews” Akkal asked. “Criminal law is not about reading intentions. Were it so, everyone would be convicted for the interpretation of their opinions.”
Akkal also asked Taşkın’s release. “She has already been detained for nine months. The continuation of her detention would amount to the usurpation of her constitutional rights,” she said.
After a brief deliberation, the court refused the demand of Taşkın’s release setting 10 October 2018 as the date of the next hearing. The court also rejected a demand to bring witnesses to testify that Taşkın’s family and friends don’t call her by “Seher”, the name on her ID, but use the name “Seda” instead. To justify the charges of “membership in a terror organization,” the prosecution claimed that “Seda” is a “code name” – without presenting any further evidence to support this claim.
Lawyers have also argued that evidence collected following a tip off via email from an address with an extension commonly used by members of the police department was unlawful and should thus be invalidated. The court, however, rejected for a third time to investigate the identity of the person who sent that email and to re-assess the legality of the evidence.