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.

Journalist Hayri Demir’s trial postponed: Demir’s requests rejected

Journalist Hayri Demir’s trial postponed: Demir’s requests rejected



In the trial of journalist Hayri Demir on the charges of “membership in a terrorist organization” and “making propaganda for a terrorist organization,” the court rejected Demir’s requests regarding the evidence against him, obtained in memory cards stolen from his home




The 11th hearing in the trial where journalist Hayri Demir is charged with “membership in a terrorist organization” and “making propaganda for a terrorist organization through the press or broadcasting” was held on 19 April 2022 at the Ankara 15th High Criminal Court.


P24 monitored the hearing, attended by Demir and his lawyer Nuran Özdoğan. Representatives from the German Embassy in Ankara, Amnesty International and Journalists’ Union of Turkey (TGS) also monitored the hearing. 


Demir was detained on 16 March 2017 as part of the case and released after spending eight days in police custody. The indictment against him was completed in May 2019. The accusations against the journalist are based on the images and footage obtained from memory cards, stolen from his house in February 2016 and later handed over to the police, and his social media posts, which mostly featured his news reports and photos. The news reports and photos held as evidence against him include a photo of Demir during a live broadcast in Şanlıurfa’s Akçakale district; footage reportedly taken in Kobani, a Kurdish-majority city in northern Syria; photos taken during the Newroz celebrations in Diyarbakır in 2015, and a photo taken on 7 September 2014 at a convention of the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Congress (DTK).


At the outset of the hearing, the presiding judge informed the court that a new piece of evidence was admitted to the case file; an individual who arrived from Syria gave a statement at the Anti-Terror Branch of the Adana Police Department that incriminated Demir. The judge also stated that there was still no official response from the relevant department regarding the digital material held as evidence against Demir, which were previously reported as missing at the property and evidence unit of the police department.


The presiding judge asked for Demir’s comments in response to the incriminatory statement of the individual in question, to which the journalist replied that he had never heard of that person before, and requested additional time to prepare his statement in response to the newly admitted evidence.


In his statement, Demir reiterated that the SD cards, the basis of the accusations against him, were stolen from his house on 28 February 2016. Noting that there were three separate police reports regarding the acquisition of the SD cards, Demir said, “One report states that two children found them and handed them to police. Another report claims that they were found by an individual identified as Ö.H. who gave them to police, while a third report says that they were taken directly to the police department.” Stating that the police reports about the cards contradicted one another, Demir said there was information indicating that the person named in the case file was involved in the security bureaucracy. 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 addressed the court next, and stressed that the digital material held as evidence against Demir was obtained as a result of theft. Özdoğan stated that the evidence obtained in such a manner could not be the basis for legal proceedings, and should be considered invalid.


In her statement, Özdoğan underlined that the investigation against her client was ongoing since 2016, which victimized him. The lawyer asserted that the lengthy investigation and the ensuing proceedings amounted to a violation of Demir’s right to a fair trial.


In their opinion, the trial prosecutor asked the court to reject Demir’s requests on the grounds that they would not affect the outcome of the proceedings, and to issue a memo to the property and evidence unit in respect of the awaited evidence.


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 new witness statement, to issue another memo to the property and evidence unit for their response regarding the 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.