Court lifts international travel ban on journalists Derya Okatan and Eray Sargın; trial adjourned until 25 June
CANSU PİŞKİN, ISTANBUL
The trial of six journalists who stand accused of “disseminating propaganda for a terrorist organization,” “hindrance or destruction of a data processing system,” “aiding a terrorist organization without being its member” and “terrorist group membership” for reporting on Berat Albayrak’s e-mails leaked by RedHack resumed on 6 February 2020 at the 29th High Criminal Court of Istanbul.
P24 monitored the ninth hearing. Tunca Öğreten, Mahir Kanaat and Eray Saygın were in attendance. Berat Albayrak’s lawyer Kevser Güner was also present in the courtroom. Representatives from Reporters Without Borders (RSF), the International Press Institute (IPI), Turkish Journalists’ Union (TGS) and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) also monitored the hearing.
The defendants and their lawyers took turns addressing the court in response to the allegations in the case file. Complaining that no progress had been made over three years of court proceedings, Eray Sargın asked the court to finalize the case. Tunca Öğreten said that in three years, the Minister Albayrak, who is the plaintiff in the case, had never refuted his report, which is the subject matter of the trial. Öğreten said that up until this hearing, he had never been questioned by the court on how he aided DHKP-C (the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front) and FETÖ (Fethullahist Terrorist Organization). “Since I’m not asked, the court doesn’t have an answer either,” Öğreten argued. He asked for his international travel ban to be lifted.
Mahir Kanaat said he was accused of “FETÖ membership” without any evidence and asked for an explanation to be given before the court reached a verdict.
Öğreten’s lawyer Tuğba Torun requested the scope of the investigation to be expanded for establishing how her client “aided a terrorist organization.” Lawyer Özcan Kılıç, representing journalists Ömer Çelik and Metin Yoksu, said the file at hand was based on the RedHack member codenamed Çakı, and the journalist Deniz Yücel. Kılıç said, “These two names are not mentioned in the indictment. The victims are here but the real protagonists are not. The person codenamed Çakı gets a hold of these emails. Where is this person? I want to ask this person questions. Did he or did he not manipulate the clients, I want to know. I also want Deniz Yücel’s file to be brought here and examined [at court]. The main theme here is addressed in that case.”
Mahir Kanaat’s lawyer Tolgay Güvercin asked the court to lift the judicial control measures imposed on his client. Güvercin also requested Kanaat to be acquitted.
Issuing an interim ruling at the end of the hearing, the court lifted Derya Okatan and Eray Sargın’s international travel bans and ruled for the continuation of the judicial control measures imposed on the remaining four defendants. The court rejected the request to ask for a copy of Deniz Yücel’s file from the 32nd High Criminal Court of Istanbul and scheduled the next hearing for 25 June 2020.