The former publisher of the online newspaper Gazete Karınca is on trial for allegedly “disseminating propaganda” over the website’s Afrin coverage
CANSU PİŞKİN, ISTANBUL
Necla Demir, the former publisher of the online newspaper Gazete Karınca, appeared before the 33rd High Criminal Court of Istanbul on 23 May 2019 for the first hearing of her trial.
Demir is accused of “systematically disseminating propaganda for a terrorist organization” for the website’s coverage of Turkey’s 2018 military operation on the Syrian city of Afrin.
P24 monitored the hearing where Demir and her lawyers Özcan Kılıç and Sercan Korkmaz were in attendance.
Addressing the court for her defense statement after her in-court identification, Demir said that the indictment against her was against law and press freedom.
Highlighting the fact that the news reports intended only to inform the public, Demir said: “The coverage of civilian deaths and the bombings of hospitals, which forms the basis of the indictment have been included in both local and international human rights reports. It is necessary in the profession of journalism to inform the public of the truth. The coverage was considered objectively and written using journalistic terminology. The case launched against me over news reports that do not exhibit the intent to make propaganda is a violation of the freedom of the press and expression, protected under the Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights.” Demir requested her acquittal.
The presiding judge asked Demir whether or not she’d accept a deferred sentence in case she is found guilty. Demir accepted the option of a deferred sentence.
Addressing the court following Demir, lawyer Kılıç said Demir was the publisher of the website and therefore was solely involved in the financial aspects of the job. He said that through the website’s masthead it can be determined that journalist Çağdaş Kaplan who was the news director at the time was responsible for the published content.
Kılıç also said: “It is claimed that the offense was committed through the press, but this provision is not applicable for digital content.” Kılıç requested Demir’s acquittal. He also asked the court to hold Demir exempt from personally appearing in court.
The prosecution then presented their final opinion of the case, requesting the court to convict Demir of “systematically disseminating terrorist propaganda.”
Demir’s lawyers requested additional time to prepare their defense statements in response to the prosecutor’s final opinion.
In its interim ruling, the court granted additional time for the final defense statements but rejected the request to hold Demir exempt from appearing in court. After this announcement lawyer Kılıç elaborated that the reason he asked for his client to be held exempt was due to her heart disease. The presiding judge said the court would “render a decision either way — whether Demir is present in court or not.” The court then adjourned the trial until 11 July 2019.