Prosecutor seeks conviction for Baransu, Altan, Çongar and Oğur in “Taraf trial”; Abdurrahman Gök’s trial resumes; Alican Uludağ, Ayşe Kara face new indictments; musician Yılmaz Çelik acquitted in trial where he spent 4 months behind bars
Court orders new expert report in “Bloomberg trial”
The trial against Bloomberg journalists Fercan Yalınkılıç and Kerim Karakaya and 36 other people, including journalists Sedef Kabaş, Merdan Yanardağ, Orhan Kalkan and Mustafa Sönmez on the charge of "violating the Capital Market Law" over a report on Turkey’s 2018 currency crisis resumed on 4 June 2021 at the İstanbul 3rd Criminal Court of First Instance.
P24 monitored the hearing, where some of the defendants and defense lawyers were in attendance. Lawyers representing the Banking Regulation and Supervision Board (BDDK) and the Capital Markets Board (SPK) were also present. The presiding judge announced that the court has received the expert report on whether the defendants had acquired any profits through their social media posts or sharing the news report. The expert report said they could not identify any profits acquired by the defendants at the time of the alleged offense.
The lawyer representing SPK told the court they did not agree with the expert report. Defense lawyers asked the court to acquit their clients based on the findings of the expert report.
Issuing an interim ruling, the judge ordered an additional expert report, citing the lack of an assessment in the submitted report concerning the material elements of the charge against Yalınkılıç and Karakaya. The court set 9 July as the date for the next hearing.
Journalist Abdurrahman Gök appears in court for second hearing
The second hearing of journalist Abdurrahman Gök’s trial on the charges of “membership in a terrorist organization” and “terrorism propaganda” was held at the Diyarbakır 5th High Criminal Court on 3 June 2021. Gök, best known for his photographs documenting Kemal Kurkut’s murder by police during the 2017 Newroz celebrations in Diyarbakır, is facing a prison sentence between 7 and 20 years over his journalistic work in the trial.
During the hearing, the presiding judge read the testimony of a secret witness code-named “Sabır” (patience), whose statement was taken in Antep in between hearings. The secret witness claimed that Kurkut “was a member of the terrorist organization and Gök took photos under instructions from the organization.” The secret witness also claimed that “he knew Abdurrahman Gök since 2013,” that his reports were “published on media outlets affiliated with the terrorist organization,” that “Kemal Kurkut was a member of the organization and Abdurrahman Gök was there [during the 2017 Newroz in Diyarbakır] to take photos under instruction from the organization” and that Gök “was also present during the  clashes in Sur district.”
Responding to the allegations in the secret witness testimony, Gök said the allegations were baseless. Gök and his lawyers demanded acquittal.
In its interim ruling, the court decided to send Gök’s file to the prosecutor's office for the preparation of their final opinion and adjourned the trial until 30 September 2021.
A report on the hearing, monitored by P24, can be accessed here.
Journalist Alican Uludağ to stand trial over yet another Twitter post
Journalist Alican Uludağ will stand trial for a social media post in which he commented on the review of the detention of journalists Hülya Kılınç, Barış Terkoğlu and Barış Pehlivan, who were arrested in March 2020 for reporting on the funeral of a Turkish intelligence official killed in Libya.
The Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor's Office accuses Uludağ of “insulting a public official due to the performance of their duty” under Article 125 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) for the said Twitter post. The new indictment against Uludağ was recently accepted by the Istanbul 49th Criminal Court of First Instance.
The prosecutor who issued the indictment initially sought to prosecute Uludağ under Article 301 for “publicly degrading the judiciary” for his Tweet, which was declined by the Ministry of Justice.
Journalist Reyhan Çapan’s trial adjourned until November
The 19th hearing of a trial in which Reyhan Çapan, the former managing editor of the shuttered Özgür Gündem newspaper, is charged with "terrorism propaganda through the press" (under Article 7/2 of the Anti-Terror Law [TMK]) and "publishing statements by terrorist organizations" (TMK 6/2), was held on 3 June 2021 at the Istanbul 2nd High Criminal Court. The case file includes 18 separate indictments against Çapan.
P24 monitored the hearing, where Çapan did not attend. She was represented by her lawyer, Sercan Korkmaz. The court did not allow spectators in the courtroom due to Covid-19 measures. Ruling to wait for the execution of the arrest warrants issued for some of Çapan’s co-defendants, the court adjourned the trial until 30 November 2021.
Trial of Veysi Altay and Dicle Anter to continue in October
The retrial of filmmaker Veysi Altay, the director of the documentary feature Nû Jîn, and Dicle Anter, the former manager of the Yılmaz Güney Movie Theatre in Batman, where the film was shown in 2015, resumed on 3 June 2021 at the Batman 2nd High Criminal Court.
The court had convicted Altay and Anter of “terrorism propaganda” at the final hearing of their trial in February 2019. A regional court of appeals overturned their convictions in 2020, saying the posters for the movie were “not suitable for inspection.”
Refusing to lift the international travel ban imposed on Altay and Anter, the court adjourned the trial until 7 October 2021.
Former CHP MP Zeynep Altıok Akatlı appears in court for “insulting the president”
Former CHP Deputy Chairwoman and Izmir MP Zeynep Altıok Akatlı appeared before the Urla 1st Criminal Court of First Instance on 3 June 2021 for the second hearing of her trial on the charge of “insulting the president” on social media. The trial was adjourned until 28 September.
Addressing the court for her defense statement during the hearing, Akatlı said she stood trial for “insulting the president” and was acquitted on 19 December 2019 and that the present file against her was prepared only 20 days after her acquittal. Akatlı said: “In the case I got acquitted, the file included eight Twitter posts. It was prepared 13 days after the date when my term as MP ended on 24 June. Apparently, I am being accused again for all of those Twitter posts with the exception of one post. And 50 more posts I shared have now been added to the file. I am not a lawyer, but I know that no one can be made to stand trial on the same accusation after being acquitted of that charge.”
Prosecutor seeks conviction for four journalists in “Taraf trial”
The 35th hearing of the “Taraf trial,” in which former executives of the shuttered newspaper, Ahmet Altan, Yasemin Çongar, Yıldıray Oğur, reporter Mehmet Baransu and journalist Tuncay Opçin are charged for allegedly “publishing” a confidential military document called “Egemen” (Sovereign) operation plan, was held on 2 June 2021 at the Istanbul 13th High Criminal Court.
In their final opinion, the prosecutor demanded that Baransu be sentenced for “systematically destroying or damaging documents relating to the security, or domestic or foreign political interests of the State” (TCK 326), “securing information that, due to its nature, is to be kept confidential for reasons relating to the security, or domestic or foreign political interests of the state” (TCK 327) and “disclosing information that, due to its nature, must be kept confidential for reasons relating to the security, or domestic or foreign political interests of the state” (TCK 329). The prosecutor demanded the continuation of Baransu’s imprisonment. The prosecutor also demanded conviction for Ahmet Altan, Yasemin Çongar and Yıldıray Oğur on the charge of “disclosing confidential information relating to the security or domestic or foreign political interests of the state” (TCK 329).
Issuing an interim ruling at the end of the hearing, the court ordered the continuation of Mehmet Baransu’s pretrial detention. Rejecting defense lawyers’ requests for further investigation, the court set 18 and 19 October 2021 as the dates for the next hearing.
A report on the hearing, monitored by P24, can be accessed here.
Trial of Ali Sönmez Kayar adjourned until October
The 11th hearing of a trial where Etkin news agency (ETHA) reporter Ali Sönmez Kayar is among nine defendants charged with “membership in a terrorist organization” was held on 2 June 2021 at the Istanbul 32nd High Criminal Court.
P24 monitored the hearing, where Kayar and his lawyer did not attend. Issuing an interim ruling, the court decided to once again initiate procedures to hear the secret witness Z.A., who testified against Kayar, and adjourned the trial until 7 October.
Trial of Osman Akın and Veysi Sarısözen to resume in October
The seventh hearing of Yeni Yaşam newspaper’s former responsible managing editor Osman Akın and columnist Veysi Sarısözen’s trial on the charge of “terrorism propaganda” over articles published in the newspaper’s 8 October 2018 issue was held on 2 June 2021 at the 13th High Criminal Court of Istanbul.
P24 went to the courthouse to monitor the hearing, but the court did not hold a public hearing since lawyers representing Akın and Sarısözen submitted letters of excuse. Ruling to wait for the execution of the arrest warrant for Sarısözen, the court adjourned the trial until 26 October.
Prosecutor seeks sentence for jailed politician Leyla Güven
Former HDP MP and Democratic Society Congress (DTK) Co-Chair Leyla Güven, who was arrested after being stripped of her MP status in June 2020, appeared before the Hakkari 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance on 2 June 2021 for the first hearing of her trial on the charges of “praising a crime or a criminal” (TCK 215) and “inciting the people to hatred and enmity” (TCK 216) for using the phrase “Mr. Öcalan” in a speech.
In her defense statement, Güven told the court that she made the statement for which she is accused as a politician, adding: “I don't think there is anything that would constitute a crime in my statements. If saying ‘Mr. Öcalan’ constitutes a crime, then Bülent Arınç and many other AKP deputies should be tried for the same crime.”
Submitting their final opinion, the prosecutor asked the court to sentence Güven as charged. Granting a continuance for Güven’s final statement, the court adjourned the trial until 22 September.
Journalist Ayşe Kara charged with “membership in a terrorist organization”
Journalist Ayşe Kara, who was taken into custody on 26 June 2020 as part of an investigation against the DTK and released under judicial control measures, is charged with “membership in a terrorist organization” in a new indictment, recently accepted by the Diyarbakır 5th High Criminal Court. The indictment alleges that Kara was a member of the DTK, an allegation the journalist denied in her initial statement, saying she attended press briefings and other meetings held by DTK to cover them as a journalist.
Actress Ezgi Mola charged with “insult” for Tweeting about suspected sex offender
Actress Ezgi Mola is charged with “insult” in a new indictment, where the charge stems from a social media post in which she had commented on the release of Musa Orhan, a sergeant who is charged with sexual assault.
The indictment, issued after Musa Orhan's lawyer Mehmet Erkan Akkuş filed a criminal complaint against Ezgi Mola with the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor's Office, accuses the actress of “insult by means of an audio, written or video message” and “insult” (under TCK 125) seeking her imprisonment for up to 2 years and 4 months. The indictment was accepted by the Ankara 31st Criminal Court of First Instance.
Orhan’s lawyer also filed a separate criminal complaint against 16 other people who were among thousands who took to social media to support Ezgi Mola upon news of the indictment against her. Akkuş claimed that Hazal Kaya, Atilla Taş, Barış Atay, Metin Uca, Hasibe Eren, Aslı İnandık, Mahsun Kırmızgül, İlkay Akkaya, Fatma Turgut, Funda Eryiğit, Serkay Tütüncü, Sarp Akkaya, Tan Taşçı, Ayşenil Şamlıoğlu, Rahşan Gülşan and Selçuk Balcı “launched an online smear campaign” against his client.
Facebook user fined for commenting on report about MHP chair
A Facebook user living in Istanbul was handed down a judicial fine of TL 5,300 for “insulting a public official because of his duty” (TCK 125/1) for commenting on a news article published in Sözcü newspaper about the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Chairman Devlet Bahçeli. The Ankara 25th Criminal Court of First Instance deferred the sentence.
Musician Yılmaz Çelik acquitted after spending 4 months behind bars
The fifth and final hearing of folk musician Yılmaz Çelik’s trial on the charges of “membership in a terrorist organization” and “terrorism propaganda” over his social media posts was held on 1 June 2021 at the Tunceli 2nd High Criminal Court.
After hearing the final defense statements of Çelik and his lawyers, the court announced its judgment, acquitting Çelik of both charges. The musician was arrested on 8 December 2019 following a concert appearance in Tunceli. He remained in pre-trial detention for almost four months before being released pending trial in March 2020.
Prosecutor seeks sentence for jailed Yeni Yaşam employee İbrahim Karakaş
The third hearing of Yeni Yaşam newspaper employee İbrahim Karakaş, who has been imprisoned in Adana since 6 November 2020, was held on 1 June 2021 at the Adana 11th High Criminal Court. Karakaş is charged with “membership in a terrorist organization.”
Karakaş addressed the court via the judicial video-conferencing network SEGBİS while his lawyer Tugay Bek was in attendance in the courtroom. Karakaş denied the accusations. Expressing that he is a journalist and that he was on trial for his journalistic activities, Karakaş requested to be acquitted.
Presenting his opinion on the merits during the hearing, the prosecutor demanded that Karakaş be sentenced for “membership in a terrorist organization.” The court ruled for the continuation of Karakaş’s detention and adjourned the trial until 13 August.
Communications Director demands TL 15,000 for “insulting” Twitter post
An investigation was launched against a social media user who posted a comment that read, “Which plot of land are you after now, you wily man,” addressing Presidential Communications Director Fahrettin Altun on Twitter.
Pursuant to Article 253 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CMK), the Prosecutor's Office sent the file to mediation before issuing an indictment.
Sending a petition to the lawyer representing the social media user, Altun’s lawyer demanded an “apology for the insulting post” and an additional TL 15,000 to cover the lawyers fee and court expenses. If a settlement is reached, no lawsuit will be filed. If the suspect rejects the request, an indictment will be issued on the charge of “insult.” If the indictment is accepted, an additional compensation case may follow.
Access to MA blocked upon complaint by gendarmerie
Access to the website of the Mezopotamya news agency (MA), which has been blocked 34 times since the agency was founded in September 2017, was blocked seven times in a row between 14 April and 7 May 2021. MA reported this week that the seven access block orders rendered by the Diyarbakır 1st, 3rd, 4th and 5th Criminal Judgeships of Peace were issued upon complaints filed by the Diyarbakır Provincial Gendarmerie Command.
A report about a stampede that occurred during a recent free potato distribution by the Ministry of Agriculture in southeast provinces and another report about a man who was arrested for sexually abusing his child were cited among grounds for the access blocking decisions issued by the judges.
At least 67 journalists and media workers in prison
As of 4 June 2021, at least 67 journalists and media workers are in prison in Turkey, either in pre-trial detention or serving a sentence.
The full list can be accessed here.