Kırkaya, the former Ankara representative of the shuttered Dicle News Agency, is among eight defendants charged with “membership in a terrorist organization” in the case that has been dragging on since 2017
ALTAN SANCAR, ANKARA
Journalist Kenan Kırkaya appeared before the Ankara 14th High Criminal Court on 28 September 2021 for the latest hearing of his trial on the charge of “membership in a terrorist organization” pursuant to Article 314/2 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK).
Kırkaya, a columnist for Yeni Yaşam newspaper and the former Ankara representative of the shuttered Dicle News Agency, is among eight defendants in the trial, which was launched in 2017 -- about five months after the journalist was taken into custody on 12 December 2016 in a police raid on his home as part of an investigation conducted by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office based on “a tip-off” received by the Ankara Police Department.
Kırkaya’s digital equipment and two notebooks that contained handwritten drafts of his literary work in Kurdish were seized by the police during the raid. The police department, which had the contents of the notebooks translated into Turkish, argued that the drafts contained “terrorism propaganda.” The trial court, however, overruled that claim in a previous interim decision, ruling for a copy of Kırkaya’s book draft be returned to the journalist.
P24 monitored Tuesday’s hearing, at the end of which the court was expected to issue its judgment. However, about an hour before the hearing began, Kırkaya and his co-defendants received a text message from the National Judiciary Informatics System (UYAP), notifying them that the next hearing of their trial would be held on 7 December 2021.
In addition to P24, representatives from the Journalists Union of Turkey (TGS) were among spectators monitoring the hearing.
The hearing began with the prosecutor reiterating their final opinion, first submitted to the court at the 10th hearing of the case, on 31 March 2020, and demanding Kırkaya’s acquittal of the alleged offense.
Kırkaya’s lawyer Nuray Özdoğan addressed the court next, requesting that the original copy of her client’s book draft seized during the 2016 police raid on his home be returned. The presiding judge responded that whether the original copy of Kırkaya’s book draft will be returned to the journalist or destroyed by burning would be determined in the light of the outcome of the case.
Issuing an interim ruling at the end of the hearing, the court decided to wait for the submission of the digital forensics report concerning one of the defendants, and to inquire about the other case files against the defendants in the case, including Kırkaya, and adjourned the trial until 7 December 2021. The court is expected to render its judgment at the next hearing.
Although the prosecutor is demanding Kırkaya’s acquittal, the journalist is still subject to an international travel ban as part of this trial.