Takva was charged with “membership in a terrorist organization” for covering a demonstration and press statement organized in Van province in January 2021
The second hearing of the case brought against journalist Ruşen Takva on the charge of "membership in an armed terrorist organization" for covering a demonstration held in Van province in January was held at the Van 2nd High Criminal Court on 12 October 2021.
The hearing began later than scheduled. Takva and his lawyers Burcu Şeber and Mahmut Kaçan were in attendance. P24 followed the hearing. Representatives from the British Embassy in Ankara and the International Press Institute (IPI) as well as fellow journalists and lawyers also observed the hearing.
Takva was on trial for covering a demonstration and press statement titled “Kürt Halkının Özgürlüğü ve Ulusal Birliği” (Liberty and National Unity of the Kurdish People), organized on 8 January 2021 in Van, where public demonstrations and gatherings have been banned for 1,800 days. The speakers in the statement were Democratic Society Congress (DTK) Co-Chair and Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Ağrı MP Berdan Öztürk and Democratic Regions Party (DBP) Co-Chairs Saliha Aydeniz and Keskin Bayındır.
The indictment alleged that Takva was “an organizer and leader of the march” and “refused to disperse despite warning.”
Prosecutor requests acquittal
Presenting his opinion on the merits at the hearing, the prosecutor demanded that Takva be acquitted, stating that Takva was there as a journalist and therefore there was not sufficient evidence proving the alleged crime.
Addressing the court in response to the prosecutor’s final opinion, Takva stated that he agreed with the prosecutor and added that the file should not have turned into a court case to begin with.
Takva’s lawyer Mahmut Kaçan said: “My client covered the march as a journalist. He had no part in organizing the march. We are waiting for your verdict of acquittal due to the absence of the elements of the crime.”
Lawyer Burcu Şeber addressed the court next, explaining that the two-page indictment was trying to convince the court merely through an image and a Twitter thread that a crime had been committed. “Ruşen Takva is an internationally known journalist. Freedom of thought is not limited to the act of thinking; it has to be used. This right is safeguarded by the Constitution. And right now, we are discussing this right.” Şeber requested her client’s acquittal.
The court took a brief recess after hearing Takva and his lawyers’ statements. Announcing its verdict after the recess, the court ruled for Takva’s acquittal because the elements of the alleged crime did not occur.
Commenting on the indictment and the case against him, Takva said: “The HDP used a democratic right. As a journalist, I covered this march. There was no crime. If I had been there as a protester, not a journalist, it would still not be a crime.”