Journalist İbrahim Haskoloğlu imprisoned; the final hearing of Gezi trial adjourned until Monday; İHD Co-Chair Öztürk Türkdoğan and journalist Rüstem Batum acquitted
Journalist İbrahim Haskoloğlu imprisoned
Journalist İbrahim Haskoloğlu was arrested in a late night police raid on his home in İstanbul on 18 April 2022 after reporting on allegations of data leaks from the e-Government portal and published what appeared to be redacted copies of the official identity cards that belonged to President Erdoğan and Hakan Fidan, the head of the National Intelligence Agency (MİT), on his social media account.
After giving a statement to the police, Haskoloğlu was brought to İstanbul Anadolu Courthouse on 19 April 2022, where the prosecutor referred him to a criminal judgeship of peace, requesting his imprisonment pending trial. After he gave his statement, Haskoloğlu was detained pending trial on the charge of “illegally obtaining and disseminating personal data” under Article 136 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) and sent to Maltepe Prison.
According to a news report by Halk TV, Haskoloğlu said, in his statement to the prosecutor, that although he shared the information at his disposal with state institutions, he failed to get any response. “I shared the information at my disposal with Mahir Ünal (AKP Group Deputy Chairman), Mustafa Şentop (the Speaker of the Parliament), Özgür Özel and Engin Özkoç (CHP Group Deputy Chairman),” Haskoloğlu reportedly said.
AKP Group Deputy Chairman Mahir Ünal then asked for Haskoloğlu’s phone number, following which he received a call from the Presidency’s Directorate of Communications and was advised to turn over the relevant information to the General Directorate of Security (EGM), according to the reports of Haskoloğlu’s statement. Haskoloğlu then handed over the information separately both to the EGM and the MİT, and asked the officials at the Directorate of Communications whether reporting the incident would cause any problems, but the officials did not give any negative feedback.
The investigation against Haskoloğlu on the charge of “illegally obtaining and disseminating personal data” was launched by the İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office upon the criminal complaint of the Interior Ministry.
Final hearing in Gezi trial gets underway
The final hearing of the trial in which jailed businessperson Osman Kavala, held in pre-trial detention for four and a half years, and 16 others are prosecuted in connection with the Gezi Park protests of 2013 and the attempted coup of 15 July 2016 got underway on 22 April 2022 at the İstanbul 13th High Criminal Court.
P24 monitored the hearing, attended by defendants Mücella Yapıcı, Ali Hakan Altınay, Can Atalay, Tayfun Kahraman, Mine Özerden, Çiğdem Mater and Yiğit Ali Ekmekçi. Osman Kavala addressed the court from the prison via the judicial video-conferencing network SEGBİS.
During Friday’s hearing, the defendants gave their defense statements in response to the prosecutor’s final opinion on the case. The trial was adjourned until Monday, 25 April 2022 for the defense statements of the lawyers.
To find out more about other developments from the hearing and details from the defense statements, read our news report.
İHD Co-Chair Türkdoğan acquitted
The second hearing in the trial of the Human Rights Association (İHD) Co-Chair Öztürk Türkdoğan on the charge of “membership in a terrorist organization” under Article 314/2 of the TCK was held on 19 April 2022 at the Ankara 19th High Criminal Court. The accusation against Türkdoğan stemmed from his public statements and activities as a rights defender.
P24 monitored the hearing, attended by Türkdoğan and his lawyers.
During the hearing, the prosecutor presented their final opinion on the case, asking the court to acquit Türkdoğan of the “membership in a terrorist organization” charge on the grounds that there was no evidence that he had committed the imputed crime.
In his defense statement in response to the prosecutor’s final opinion, Türkdoğan stated that the İHD carried out activities in the field of human rights in Turkey, and that all his statements and comments were made with regard to the unlawful practices in this field. Kerem Altıparmak, Türkdoğan’s lawyer, said, “For the imputed crime to take place, the client must surrender his will to the terrorist organization. Not a single piece of evidence or document points to this,” and asked the court to acquit Türkdoğan.
Announcing its decision at the end of the hearing, the court ruled to acquit Türkdoğan due to lack of evidence. The judicial control measure against Türkdoğan was also lifted.
You can find more details about the hearing here.
Rüstem Batum acquitted
The 17th hearing in the trial of journalist and writer Rüstem Batum on the charge of “insulting the president” under Article 299 of the TCK over his remarks in the TV show “Ayşegül Doğan ile Gündem Müzakere” (“Agenda Discussion with Ayşegül Doğan”), which aired on 10 September 2015 on İMC TV, was held on 20 April 2022 at the İstanbul 41st Criminal Court of First Instance.
Batum, who lives abroad, did not attend the hearing. His lawyer, Erselan Aktan, was present in the courtroom. The prosecutor submitted their final opinion on the case, asking the court to acquit Batum of the imputed charge on the grounds that his televised remarks fell within the scope of political criticism and freedom of expression. In his defense statement in response to the prosecutor’s final opinion, Aktan asked the court to acquit the journalist based on the Vedat Şorli v. Turkey judgment delivered by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR).
In its decision, the court ruled to acquit Batum on the grounds that the elements of the impugned crime did not exist. In addition, the court decided to lift the arrest warrant issued against Batum without waiting for the verdict to become final.
Two compensation lawsuits against BirGün daily dismissed
Two separate compensation lawsuits filed against BirGün newspaper by Selçuk Bayraktar, a son-in-law of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the CTO of drone maker Baykar, and the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK) were dismissed.
BirGün daily reported that the compensation lawsuit filed against the newspaper, its publisher İbrahim Aydın and reporter İsmail Arı by TÜBİTAK over a news report titled “TÜBİTAK damadın vakfına çalışıyor” (TÜBİTAK is working for the son-in-law’s foundation”), published on 21 August 2021, was dismissed on 19 April 2022 by the Ankara 18th Civil Court of First Instance. TÜBİTAK was seeking TL 100,000 (6,280 euros) in the lawsuit.
The compensation lawsuit filed against the newspaper by Selçuk Bayraktar over a news article titled “Damada kıyak üstüne kıyak” (“Favour after favour for the son-in-law”), published on 5 October 2019, was dismissed on 29 March 2022 by the İstanbul 8th Civil Court of First Instance.
Derya Okatan offered fine procedure in “terrorism” case
The third hearing in the trial in which journalist Derya Okatan is charged with “making propaganda for a terrorist organization” over a series of social media posts shared on Etkin News Agency’s (ETHA) accounts at a time when she was the responsible managing editor of the agency was held on 21 April 2022 at the Ankara 4th High Criminal Court.
P24 monitored the hearing. Announcing its interim decision at the end of the hearing, the court offered Okatan the “advance payment” procedure pursuant to Article 75 of the TCK, which would see the journalist pay TL 25,025 (1,570 euros). According to the court’s proposal, should Okatan consent, the journalist will be required to pay TL 25,000 in respect of a judicial fine commuted from a 1250-day penalty of imprisonment that would be presumably handed down on her as per Article 7/2 of the Anti-Terror Law (TMK), which criminalizes “making propaganda for a terrorist organization,” at the end of the trial if she would be convicted, and TL 25 in respect of costs and expenses. In the event that Okatan accepts the court’s proposal within 10 days after being notified by the judge, the amount determined can be paid in three installments at monthly intervals.
If Okatan accepts the court’s proposal, the case against her will be dropped. If not, the trial will continue as usual and the next hearing will take place on 22 September 2022.
You can read more about the hearing in our news report.
Trade Ministry fines Evrensel for the same commercial again
The Ministry of Trade imposed an administrative fine of TL 21,000 on Evrensel newspaper over a TV commercial showing a scarf with red, yellow and green patterns that aired on TELE1, after a previous fine given to the daily due to the same commercial was overturned by a regional court of appeals. This time around, the ministry based the fine on the article cited by the court in its decision.
“The same fine was given on similar grounds; we will appeal the decision,” said Devrim Avcı, the newspaper’s lawyer.
İstanbul police intervenes against journalists during a public statement on May Day
Police intervened against a gathering in İstanbul’s Kazancı Yokuşu Street, held by the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Congress (HDK) and the İstanbul Branch of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) to announce their May Day declaration.
The gathering was dispersed on the grounds of a ban declared by the Beyoğlu District Governor’s Office. During the intervention, Dokuz8 Haber reporter Fatoş Erdoğan and Artı TV reporter Zeynep Danyıldız, who were at the scene to cover the declaration, were assaulted and violently removed from the area by police.
Hayri Demir’s trial postponed
The 11th hearing in the trial of journalist Hayri Demir on the charges of “membership in a terrorist organization” and “making propaganda for a terrorist organization” was held on 19 April 2022 at the Ankara 15th High Criminal Court.
P24 monitored the hearing, attended by Demir and his lawyer Nuray Erdoğan. In his defense statement, Demir recalled that the SD cards, the basis of the accusations against him, were stolen on 28 February 2016 from his house. Demir asked the court to have the fingerprints of the individual named in the police report taken, to have these fingerprints compared with the fingerprints collected from the digital material and his house following the burglary, and to hear that individual as a witness in the courtroom in order to resolve the contradictions regarding the material.
Lawyer Nuran Özdoğan stressed that the digital material held as evidence against Demir was obtained as a result of burglary. Özdoğan stated that the evidence obtained in such a manner could not be the basis for legal proceedings, and should be considered invalid.
Announcing its interim decision at the end of the hearing, the court panel ruled to reject Demir’s requests, to give additional time to Demir to prepare his defense statement in response to a new witness statement, to issue another memo to the property and evidence unit for their response regarding the digital material cited as evidence, and to file a criminal complaint against the officers in charge of the said material for “misuse of public duty” in the event of no such response. The trial was adjourned until 29 June 2022.
You can find more details about the hearing here.
Hatice Şahin’s trial to resume in May
The eighth hearing in the trial of Hatice Şahin, a reporter for Yeni Yaşam newspaper, on the charge of “membership in a terrorist organization” took place on 18 April 2022 at the Diyarbakır 9th High Criminal Court.
Şahin was taken into custody on 18 October 2018 in Diyarbakır as part of an investigation launched into the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Congress (DTK); she was subsequently released pending trial.
Hatice Şahin did not attend the hearing. Her lawyer, Resul Temur, was in attendance. The trial prosecutor asked the court to hand over the case file to the prosecution for the drafting of their final opinion. Şahin’s lawyer, Temur, said that they would not make a statement at this stage.
Ruling to send the case file to the prosecutor’s office for the preparation of their final opinion, the court adjourned the trial until 11 May 2022.
Abdullah Kaya’s trial postponed until September
The 18th hearing in the trial of Abdullah Kaya, a former reporter for the since-shuttered Dicle News Agency (DİHA), on the charges of “membership in a terrorist organization” and “making propaganda for a terrorist organization” was held on 19 April 2022 at the Ağrı 2nd High Criminal Court.
The accusations against Kaya stem from his news coverage during the Peace and Nature Festival, held in September 2014 on Mount Ararat.
Kaya addressed the court from the Diyadin Courthouse via the judicial video-conferencing network SEGBİS. Stating that he was prosecuted for his journalistic work, Kaya said, “While the media goes about its work rather comfortably everywhere else, journalists in Turkey are sent to prisons.” Kaya also requested the court to lift the international travel ban imposed on him as a judicial control measure on the grounds that he was in ill health and intended to seek treatment abroad.
In its interim decision, the court asked Kaya to submit a medical report of his illness in respect of his request that the international travel ban against him be lifted, and adjourned the trial until 6 September 2022.
Ahmet Altan’s trial over 2008 article adjourned
The seventh hearing in the trial where journalist and novelist Ahmet Altan is charged with “insulting a public official due to their duty” was held on 19 April 2022 at İstanbul’s Anadolu 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance. Altan is on trial for allegedly insulting former Chief Public Prosecutor of the Supreme Court of Appeals Abdurrahman Yalçınkaya in an article he penned in 2018, published in the now-defunct Taraf newspaper.
Altan and his lawyer did not attend the hearing, during which it was stated that the case file overseen by the İstanbul 32nd Criminal Court of First Instance had not returned from the Supreme Court of Appeals. Ruling to inquire once again whether the file has returned from the Supreme Court of Appeals, the court adjourned the trial until 4 October 2022.
The case was reopened 10 years later, after a previous sentence Altan was given by the İstanbul 32nd Criminal Court of First Instance for “insulting the president” was upheld in March 2018 by a regional court of appeals.
Court rules to wait for letters rogatory in Cengiz Çandar’s trial
The fifth hearing in the trial in which journalist Cengiz Çandar and activist Kemal Işıktaş are charged with “praising an offense and offender” over their social media posts they shared in May 2017 was held on 19 April 2022 at the İstanbul 30th Criminal Court of First Instance.
Ruling to wait for the defense statement of Cengiz Çandar, who resides abroad, taken through letters rogatory in his current country of residence, the court adjourned the case until 16 June 2022.
Two cases against Ahmet Sever postponed
The 10th hearing in the trial of journalist Ahmet Sever, a former press advisor to President Abdullah Gül, on the charge of “insulting a public official” was held on 19 April 2022 at the İstanbul 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance. The accusation against Sever stems from his political memoir titled “İçimde Kalmasın: Tanıklığımdır” (“I Wanted to Get It Out of My System: My Testimony”), originally published in 2018. Sever, who lives abroad, did not attend the hearing while his lawyer submitted a letter of excuse. The trial was postponed to a future date without a court hearing.
The trial brought against Sever on the charge of “insulting the president” under Article 299 of the TCK due to the same book was also adjourned to a future date on 20 April 2022 without a court hearing.
The cases against Sever were filed upon the criminal complaints of President Erdoğan and Mustafa Şentop, the Speaker of the Parliament.
RTÜK fines Amed Radyo
The Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) issued an administrative fine of TL 12,804 to Diyarbakır-based online radio Amed Radyo on the allegation that they failed to submit their income statement.
In a public statement on the issue, Amed Radyo executives claimed that they were imposed a fine even though they submitted their income statement to the RTÜK via registered e-mail (KEP), an officially recognized channel. The radio administration labeled the latest administrative fine as “a deliberate intimidation policy.”
After the regulation that authorized RTÜK to supervise online radio and television broadcasts, including on-demand platforms, was published on 1 August 2019 in the Official Gazette, and hence, came into force, the supreme council initiated fine proceedings against multiple online platforms on various grounds.
At least 55 journalists and media workers in prison
Following the recent imprisonment of journalist İbrahim Haskoloğlu pending trial, as of 22 April 2022, at least 55 journalists and media workers are in prison in Turkey, either in pre-trial detention or serving a sentence.
You can see the updated list here.