The prosecutor submits his final opinion of the case during the first hearing, requesting that Kobulan be convicted 

Journalist Yasin Kobulan, a reporter for Mezopotamya news agency (MA), appeared before an Istanbul court on 26 December for the first hearing of his trial on the charge of “disseminating propaganda for a terrorist organization” on social media.

The indictment claims that Kobulan “shared posts that made the Turkish military’s operations targeting terrorists in Southeast [Turkey] to look as though they were massacres, and that legitimized the terrorist group’s actions that involved violence.” Kobulan faces up to 13 years in prison if convicted.

P24 monitored the hearing at the 30th High Criminal Court of Istanbul. Kobulan and his lawyers Özcan Kılıç and Sercan Korkmaz were in attendance.

Addressing the court for his defense statement, Kobulan said the investigation was launched upon a complaint filed by the Diyarbakır Gendarmerie Regional Commander. However, Kobulan explained, the news stories that were the grounds for the complaint were actually recaps of news stories dispatched by other news agencies. Kobulan said the content of his social media posts included in the case file as evidence against him were all news-related.

Rejecting the accusation, Kobulan requested to be acquitted.

Addressing the court after Kobulan, his lawyer Sercan Korkmaz said the investigation had been unlawful to begin with because it had been based on a personal complaint. Lawyer Özcan Kılıç also said the investigation had not been conducted in accordance with the Turkish Criminal Procedure Code (CMK) and that any information collected in such a manner could not constitute evidence in a case file. Kılıç said the screenshots in the case file had showed news stories dispatched by the news agency Kobulan worked for but that no investigation had been launched into any of the said news stories.

After the completion of defense statements, the prosecution submitted their final opinion of the case. Without explaining which element of each social media post constituted the grounds for the “propaganda” charge, the prosecutor requested that Kobulan be convicted of “successively disseminating propaganda for a terrorist organization.”

Kobulan and his lawyers requested additional time for their final defense statement in response to the prosecutor’s final opinion. The court granted a continuance and set 8 March 2019 as the date for the next hearing.

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