Expression Interrupted

Journalists and academics bear the brunt of the massive crackdown on freedom of expression in Turkey. Scores of them are currently subject to criminal investigations or behind bars. This website is dedicated to tracking the legal process against them.

Beritan Canözer

Beritan Canözer

Reporter Beritan Canözer of the shuttered Jin News Agency (JINHA) was arrested on 16 December 2015 for allegedly being “too excited” while covering a protest march against the curfew imposed in the Sur district of Diyarbakır. She spent three days in police custody and was later referred to the Prosecutor’s Office.

Canözer was interrogated by the Prosecutor’s Office who requested her to be arrested for allegedly “aiding a terrorist organization” and subsequently she was referred to the court on duty. Canözer was arrested over her social media posts on 19 December 2015 and was sent to the Diyarbakır E Type Prison.

According to the indictment submitted in January 2016, Canözer’s notes and social media posts were considered as “criminal evidence.” The prosecutor who drafted the indictment requested for Canözer to be punished for “disseminating propaganda for a terrorist organization” and “membership in a terrorist organization.”

On 13 March 2016, Canözer was transferred from the Diyarbakır E Type Prison to the Bakırköy Women's Prison in Istanbul. Canözer could not attend her first courtroom hearing held at the 4th High Criminal Court of Diyarbakır because she refused to give her statement via the courtroom video-conferencing system SEGBİS. The prosecutor had been seeking a sentence of 5 to 10 years for Canözer. Taking into consideration the amount of time Canözer spent in prison, the court ruled to release Canözer.

At the final hearing of this trial, Canözer was sentenced to 1 year and 3 months in prison on the charge of “disseminating propaganda for a terrorist group.” The court deferred the sentence.

A second investigation was launched against Canözer on the charge of “disseminating propaganda” for the interviews she made with her news sources. At the first hearing held at the 4th High Criminal Court of Diyarbakır, the court ruled for Canözer's acquittal. After the prosecutor objected to the acquittal, the case was referred to the Gaziantep Regional Court of Justice. Canözer's acquittal was reversed by the appellate court, ordered a retrial. The Diyarbakır 4th High Criminal Court sentenced Canözer to 1 year and 3 months for "terrorism propaganda" at the end of her retrial.

In another case against her, Canözer was charged with “terrorist organization membership” and “disseminating propaganda for a terrorist organization” for her coverage of the violence suffered in the Sur district of Diyarbakır during curfew provisions. The first hearing of this trial was held on 20 March 2019 at the 9th High Criminal Court of Diyarbakır.

The second hearing of this trial took place on 26 June 2019. Canözer and her lawyer Resul Tamur were in attendance. The court heard witnesses who testified against Canözer during the hearing. Canözer rejected the claims in the witness testimonies. The prosecution then presented their final opinion, demanding the court to convict Canözer based on testimony by Canan Ceylan, Rıfayi İpek, Mehmet Salih Ateş and Baran Aslan, who have been facing criminal investigation on allegations of “membership in a terrorist group.” The court adjourned the trial until October, granting Canözer and her lawyer additional time to prepare her defense statement.

Canözer and her lawyer were in attendance at the third and final hearing of the trial, held on 16 October 2019. The Diyarbakır 9th High Criminal Court ruled for Canözer's acquittal.

In yet another trial, overseen by the Diyarbakır 11th High Criminal Court, Beritan Canözer was once again charged with "terrorism propaganda," this time for one “like” and four “replies” she had posted on social media. At the third and final hearing of this trial, held on 17 June 2020, the court sentenced Canözer to 1 year, 10 months and 15 days in prison on the charge of “terrorism propaganda.”

JinNews reporter Beritan Canözer was taken into custody on 5 April 2021 in an early morning police raid on her home in Diyarbakır. The grounds for her arrest was not immediately disclosed. Canözer was taken to the Diyarbakır Police Department.

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