Journalist Hayri Tunç acquitted; request to prosecute Barış Terkoğlu and Can Bursalı denied; prosecution requests conviction for Doğan Ergün and İzel Sezer; Evrensel executives to stand trial
Journalist Hayri Tunç acquitted
The second hearing in the trial of journalist Hayri Tunç on charges of “inciting the people to hatred and enmity” over his social media posts was held at the İstanbul 42nd Criminal Court of First Instance on 6 December 2022.
Tunç and his lawyer Arzuhan Halis attended the hearing, which P24 monitored.
Presenting their final opinion on the case, the prosecutor requested conviction for Tunç of the impugned crime.
Tunç’s lawyer Arzuhan Halis said that elements of the impugned crime did not exist in the social media posts subject to the case and added: “These posts should be evaluated as falling under professional activities and freedom of the press. We request acquittal.” Asked for his final statement, Tunç also requested his acquittal.
The court ruled that the elements of the impugned crime did not exist and acquitted Tunç.
Prosecutor asks court to convict İzel Sezer, Doğan Ergün
The fourth hearing in the trial of former İleri Haber Editor-in-Chief Doğan Ergün and current Editor-in-Chief İzel Sezer on charges of “insult,” “illegally exposing data obtained from recording private speech among individuals and through the press and the media” and “defamation” over their reporting on allegations of “bargaining for bribes” by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s former lawyer Mustafa Doğan İnal was held at the İstanbul 33rd Criminal Court of First Instance on 8 December 2022.
Ergün, Sezer and their lawyer Özgür Urfa attended the hearing, which P24 monitored.
The prosecutor read out their final opinion which was presented to the court on 2 December 2022. The prosecutor requested conviction for Ergün and Sezer of all impugned crimes.
The defense requested time to prepare a statement against the opinion. The court accepted the request and adjourned the trial until 14 March 2022.
Committee of Ministers reiterate its call for release of Osman Kavala, Selahattin Demirtaş
The Committee of Ministers of Council of Europe reiterated its call on Turkish authorities to act in line with the European Court of Human Rights judgments ruling for the “immediate release” of imprisoned philanthropist Osman Kavala and former HDP Co-Chair Selahattin Demirtaş.
In the decisions reached at the meeting held from 6-8 December, the Committee underlined the obligation of Turkish authorities to “eliminate all the negative consequences of the criminal charges brought against Kavala” by ensuring that he is immediately released.
The Committee also urged the authorities, once again, to take all possible steps to ensure that the Constitutional Court makes its determination concerning the applicant’s ongoing detention in the shortest possible timeframe.
The Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) had declared on 11 July that Turkey has failed to fulfill its obligations under Article 46 of the European Convention on Human Rights by refusing to release Kavala despite a Court judgment delivered in 2019. Kavala has been in pre-trial detention since 1 November 2017.
The ECtHR had ruled in 2020 that Demirtaş’s rights were violated many times during his detention period. Demirtaş has been imprisoned since 4 November 2016. The ECtHR had also ruled that Turkey violated 18 articles of European Convention on Human Rights.
Indictment prepared for journalist İbrahim Haskoloğlu
The İstanbul Chief Prosecutor’s Office has prepared an indictment for journalist İbrahim Haskoloğlu on charges of “illegally obtaining personal data” upon a complaint by the Ministry of Interior over the news items he prepared.
In an announcement on his social media account, Haskoloğlu said “Today an indictment calling for imprisonment of up to 12 years has been prepared against me due to my reporting showing that the personal data of Turkish citizens are unguarded. No investigation was launched into those who cannot keep your data safe. This is not punishing me, but your right to be informed.”
İbrahim Haskoloğlu had been arrested as part of an investigation on 19 April 2022 for “illegally obtaining personal data” and released on 27 April.
Journalist Mustafa Sönmez to stand trial for “insulting the president”
A case has been filed against journalist Mustafa Sönmez on charges of “insulting the president” over his tweets criticizing the government’s financial policies.
First hearing will be held at the Anadolu 38th Criminal Court of First Instance on 2 February 2023.
Police officers who assaulted journalists on the anniversary of the Gezi protests to face investigation
The 1st Administrative Law Chamber of the İstanbul Regional Administrative Court has lifted the decision of the Governor’s Office of Istanbul to not allow legal procedures against police officers who assaulted journalists in Taksim, İstanbul on 31 May 2022, on the ninth anniversary of the Gezi protests.
During the demonstration, journalists including Erdinç Yılmaz and Ozan Demiriz of Halk TV, Tele 1 TV reporter Engin Açar and camera operator Umutcan Yitük, Gazete Fersude reporter Hayri Tunç, Dokuz8 Haber reporter Fatoş Erdoğan, Karşı Mahalle reporter Sezgin Kartal had been encircled by the police, assaulted, insulted and threatened.
Meltem Akyol of Evrensel, Gökay Başcan of BirGün, Ozan Demiriz of Halk TV and Dilan Polat, Nil Derin Aydoğdu and Sevda Doğan of Flash Haber TV had been detained in behind-the-back handcuffs and made to wait in handcuffs for hours.
Following the criminal complaint filed by the Journalists’ Union of Turkey (TGS) with the İstanbul Chief Prosecutor’s Office regarding the assault of journalists on charges of “abuse of duty,” “torture,” “maltreatment,” “threats,” “insults,” “willful injury” and “violation of the freedom to work and employment” on 3 June 2022, the prosecutor’s office had written to the Governor’s Office of Istanbul to request permission to identify and investigate suspected public workers.
The response signed by Governor of İstanbul Ali Yerlikaya had stated that the public officials in question could not be identified, there was no need to allow for an investigation or to launch a disciplinary investigation and for the case file would be suspended.
The court accepted the TGS’s objection to the governorate’s decision on grounds that it was unlawful, the necessary examinations had not been carried out and the decision would encourage the police to use disproportionate force against journalists.
Compensation case against journalists Can Bursalı, Barış Terkoğlu dismissed
3rd hearing in compensation case of journalists Barış Terkoğlu, Can Bursalı and Independent Turkish news website brought upon a complaint by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s former lawyer Mustafa Doğan İnal was held at the İstanbul 11th Civil Court of First Instance on 6 December 2022.
Bursalı and Terkoğlu did not attend the hearing while the lawyers for both sides were present. P24 monitored the hearing.
İnal’s lawyer said, “The news item claimed that my client took money without doing business, and attempted to humiliate him” and requested acceptance of the case.
Bursalı’s lawyer Melike Polat stated that the said news item did not contain any element that would damage one’s personal rights and it falls under the scope of freedom of the press: “There is no defamation in the news item but references to facts.”
Polat, Terkoğlu and Independent Turkish’s lawyers demanded dismissal of the case.
In the book Metastaz 2: Cendere he co-authored with Barış Pehlivan, Barış Terkoğlu had written of claims that Erdoğan’s former lawyer İnal had received TL 15 million in legal representation fees from the İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality (İBB). Bursalı had written of these claims in a news item published in Independent Turkish on 3 December 2020. The indictment had claimed that allegations concerning the İBB giving procuration to İnal despite him not being a lawyer on the staff of the İBB had “harmed the honor, dignity and social reputation” of İnal.
Evrensel executives to be prosecuted upon Serhat Albayrak’s complaint
Editor-in-Chief Görkem Kınacı and licensed publisher Kürşat Yılmaz of the Evrensel newspaper are to stand trial upon a complaint by Serhat Albayrak over their reporting on claims made by crime ring leader Sedat Peker.
Vice President of the Board of Directors of Turkuvaz Media Group had filed a complaint against Evrensel administrators due to the news items on Peker’s allegations, which led to an investigation.
Kınacı, Yılmaz and Managing Editor Erdi Tütmez gave their statement at the Press Crimes Investigation Bureau of the İstanbul Chief Prosecutor’s Office as part of the investigation launched following Serhat Albayrak’s complaint.
The first hearing in the trial of Kınacı and Yılmaz is set to be held on 23 March 2023 at the İstanbul 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance.
Journalist Hakan Tosun assaulted, briefly detained while reporting
Protestors gathering outside Cengiz Holding’s premises in Üsküdar, İstanbul on 6 December 2022 in solidarity with the court case being held the same day in Çanakkale for the suspension of Cengiz Holding’s copper mine project in the Kaz Mountains region were detained.
The police intervened on six environmentalists who carried a sign that read “Neither Alamos nor Cengiz. We will not abandon Kaz Mountains. #CengizGetOut” and detained seven people including journalist Hakan Tosun, who was covering the protest.
The detainees were released after giving a statement.
Journalist Timur Soykan targeted after his reporting on “child abuse at the congregation”
Journalist Timur Soykan, who broke the news on Yusuf Ziya Gümüşel, founder of the Hiranur Foundation that is affiliated with the İsmailağa congregation, marrying off his daughter when she was six year old with a religious marriage and the subsequent sexual abuse was targeted on social media.
In a cartoon it published on its social media account, the magazine Misvak targeted Soykan with the expression “Timur Soykan and his mentality which attack Islam and want to repeat the Fadime Şahin incident should be arrested.”
Following Misvak’s tweet, a campaign tagged “Timur Soykan on trial” began.
Soykan responded to those targeting him through his Twitter account, where he wrote “I wish the people who have started the #TimurSoykanOnTrial would also raise their voices against sexual abuse taking place in the dark world of congregations. Instead, they stoop as low as attacking news based on documents and an indictment. We will of course continue writing in opposition to such darkness.”
Journalists Mehmet Ferhat Çelik, Osman Akın to stand trial
A court case has been filed against Yeni Yaşam newspaper Editor-in-Chief and Managing Editor Osman Akın on charges of “insult” and “defamation” over their reporting.
The İstanbul Chief Prosecutor’s Office had launched an investigation into the journalists who reported on allegations made by crime ring leader Sedat Peker concerning Turkuvaz Media owner Serhat Albayrak, older brother of former Minister of Energy Berat Albayrak.
The indictment prepared on charges of “insult” and defamation” concerning the news items titled “Sedat Peker’den ifşalar” (“Sedat Peker exposes information”,) “Peker rüşvet belgelerini yayınladı” (“Peker publishes documents of bribery”) and “Albayraklar da dahil” (“The Albayraks are in on it”,) stated that legal elements of the crime of insult were formed. The indictment was accepted by the İstanbul 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance.
The court accepted the indictment and issued an order for Çelik’s arrest. The first hearing was set for 21 March 2023.
Visiting rights of visitors to imprisoned journalist Öznur Değer revoked
The visiting rights of one of the visitors of arrested journalist Öznur Değer, who has been held at the Sincan Closed Women’s Prison for a month, were revoked on grounds of being “objectionable” while another visitor’s rights were revoked on grounds of their “address.”
Öznur said that at a meeting she held with her family on 5 December 2022, the prison administration had told her that two visitors’ rights had been revoked. Stating that she had asked the prison administration for a reason but had received no response, Öznur said she had filed an objection with the authorities responsible.
Öznur Değer was among the nine journalists detained on 25 October 2022 and arrested on 29 October 2022 as part of an investigation ran by the Ankara Chief Prosecutor’s Office.
Imprisoned journalist Hakan Yalçın: “Our rights are being violated”
Journalist Hakan Yalçın, who was arrested in the operations carried out in nine cities and launched in Ankara on 25 October stated that their rights were being violated.
In his letter from Sincan High Security Prison No. 1, where he is held, Yalçın said “This prison was built for convicts serving aggravated life sentences. They keep use here and we stay in single cells. We are under arrest but have to stay in our cell for 24 hours a day. Despite talking to the prison administration about this, they won’t let us go out into the courtyard with our arrested friends. The prison administration is committing a crime.”
Court issues detention warrant for author Gökhan Yavuzel
The second hearing in the trial of PEN International member Gökhan Yavuzel on charges of “insulting the president” over his social media post was held at the Şanlıurfa 4th Criminal Court of First Instance on 6 December 2022.
Neither the defendant nor his counsel attended the hearing.
The court issued an order to detain Yavuzel for his statement to be taken and adjourned the trial until 12 September 2023.
Yavuzel is being prosecuted due to his social media post regarding the killing of Deniz Poyraz in the attack on the HDP’s İzmir office.
Journalist Nazan Özcan appears before court
The first hearing in the trial of journalist Nazan Özcan on charges of “insult” and “defamation” filed upon a complaint by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s former lawyer Mustafa Doğan İnal was held at the İstanbul 34th Criminal Court of First Instance on 8 December 2022.
Özcan, her lawyer and İnal’s lawyer were present at the hearing, which P24 monitored.
Following identification, Özcan delivered her defense, in which she denied the impugned crimes. Özcan’s lawyer Meriç Eyüboğlu said that elements of the crimes of “defamation” and “insult” di not exist and said that she would present the expert’s opinion prepared by lawyer Levent Pişkin upon P24’s invitation to court along with his written defense statement.
İnal’s lawyer requested joining the case as co-plaintiff.
The court accepted the request and adjourned the trial until 22 March 2022.
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Hazal Ocak’s compensation case adjourned until April
The sixth hearing in the trial for damages claims worth TL 200,000 against former Cumhuriyet newspaper reporter Hazal Ocak by former Minister of the Treasury and Finance Berat Albayrak was held at the İstanbul 8th Civil Court of First Instance on 6 December 2022.
Ocak’s lawyer Damla Çaltepe attended the hearing, which P24 monitored. The plaintiff’s lawyer excused themselves from attending the hearing.
The court decided to await the approval of the acquittal decision in a previous case also filed by Berat Albayrak’s complaint and on the same grounds with the İstanbul 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance in January and adjourned the trial until 4 April 2023.
Journalist Yetkin Yıldız’s trial adjourned until February
The 22nd hearing in the trial of journalist Yetkin Yıldız on charges of “insult” and “defamation” over a complaint filed by then Minister of the Interior Efkan Ala regarding the news item “Fuat Avni Suruç patlaması ile ilgili Twitter’dan çarpıcı mesajlar paylaştı” (“Fuat Avni shares striking messages regarding the Suruç explosion on Twitter”) which was published on the Aktif Haber news website on 23 July 2015 was held at the Bakırköy 31st Criminal Court of First Instance.
Neither the defendant not his counsel attended the hearing.
The court decided to await the finalization of the case there upon the response to the correspondence with the İstanbul 25th High Criminal Court and adjourned the trial until 9 February 2023.
The approval of the imprisonment sentence for Yıldız on charges of “membership of an organisation” in the case publicly known as the “FETÖ media structure case” in 2018 was made a “preliminary issue” for the current trial. Yıldız had said that after the Court of Cassation’s decision to overturn, the preliminary issue case was being retried by the İstanbul 25th High Criminal Court and had not bene completed.
Journalist Hayko Bağdat’s case adjourned until March
The eighth hearing in the trial of journalist Hayko Bağdat on charges of “insulting the president” and “inciting the people to hatred and enmity” over an article and his social media posts was held at the İstanbul 50th Criminal Court of First Instance on 7 December 2022.
Bağdat’s lawyer attended the hearing.
The court adjourned the trial until 29 March 2023.
The trial of journalists Fırat Fıstık, Ozan Buz adjourned until March 2023
The first hearing in the trial of Gerçek Gündem news website reporter Fırat Fıstık and managing editor Ozan Buz on charges of “illegally obtaining or disseminating personal data” upon a complaint by Boğaziçi University Rector Naci İnci over a news item they prepared was held at the İstanbul 46th Criminal Court of First Instance on 9 December 2022.
In his defense, journalist Fıstık said “I practice journalism. I did not share the plaintiff’s identity information, address or personal information in the news content. The news I prepared relates to my journalistic activities and for this reason I request my acquittal.”
The court ruled to accept the request of the plaintiff’s lawyer to join the trial as co-plaintiff, to await the outcome of the letter of directives issued for Ozan Buz and adjourned the trial until 15 March 2023.
An indictment had been prepared against the journalists on 27 April 2022 after the news item titled “Boğaziçi Üniversitesi rektörü Naci İnci, öğrencileri polise isim ihbar etti: Öğrenciler tutuklandı” (Boğaziçi University Rector Naci İnci Reports Students to the Police by Name: Students Arrested.” A denial of access order had been placed on the news item after its publication.
Journalist Ergin Çağlar’s trial adjourned
The first hearing in the trial of Mezopotamya Agency reporter Ergin Çağlar on charges of “violation of Law 2911 on Meetings and Demonstrations” was held on 6 December 2022. Çağlar had been detained while reporting on the Gemlik March held in Bursa on 12 June 2022.
The trial was adjourned after a summary hearing.
The police had broken up the Bursa leg of the march held with the slogan “We March on Gemlik to Defend Freedom against Politics of Isolation” and detained 10 people, including Çağlar and JinNews reporter Rozerin Gültekin.
At least 75 journalists and media workers in prison
There are at least 75 journalists and media employees who are in prison either pending trial or serving sentence in Turkey as of 11 December 2022.
The full list can be accessed here.