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 Ruşen Takva appears in court for new trial

Journalist Ruşen Takva appears in court for new trial

Takva is charged with “violating the Law on Demonstrations” and “membership in a terrorist organization” for covering a demonstration held earlier this year in Van


Freelance journalist Ruşen Takva appeared before the Van 2nd High Criminal Court on 10 June 2021 for the first hearing of his trial on the charges of “violating the Law on Demonstrations” and “membership in a terrorist organization.”


The charges stem from Takva’s coverage of a demonstration organized in January in Van province, where all public demonstrations and protests have been banned for the last six years. The demonstration was organized by the Democratic Regions Party (DBP) and participants included lawmakers from the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).


“I was there for the same purpose as mainstream media”


P24 monitored the hearing, where Takva and his lawyers were in attendance.


Addressing the court for his defense statement, Takva explained that he was there to cover the demonstration as a journalist, adding: “I was not the only journalist there. Reporters from mainstream media and the DHA, İHA and Anadolu news agencies were also there to cover it. I was there for the same purpose as the other journalists.” Takva said he should not even have faced an investigation for his coverage, let alone stand trial.


He continued: “In the section of the indictment where the incident is described, the word 'Kurd' starts with a lowercase while the word 'Turkish' is written correctly. The prosecutor who issued the indictment either does not know the spelling rules or has racist and political motives -- both of which are very alarming.”


As to the grounds for the accusations in the indictment, Takva said: “The prosecution came to the conclusion that I was a ‘terrorist group leader’ based on a photo showing me on 8 January with the crowd who attended the demonstration behind me. So, I wonder if, as a journalist, I took a photo of the prosecutor who prepared the indictment as he walked down a street, past a political party’s headquarters, then could I accuse him of ‘taking instructions from that political party?’”


In response to the presiding judge’s question, “How did you find out about the demonstration?” Takva said: “I am a journalist. Journalists are informed of such events in advance [so that they can cover them].”


“Both law enforcement and prosecution know I am a journalist”


Afterwards, the court heard a police officer who goes by the initials A.Ş. as a witness. In his testimony, A.Ş. said: “A public statement on Kurdish unity was going to be delivered on that day. The governor's office banned it. However, there were reports that they would make the statement anyway. We went there for security purposes. First, we made a warning and then blocked them, and then there was a negotiation. One of my colleagues got injured there. Ruşen Takva was also in the group, but he may or may not have directed it, I don't have anything clear. He may or may not be there during the negotiation phase. I do not remember exactly.”


In response to the police officer’s testimony, Takva told the court: “The officer spoke of possibilities. He knows that I was covering what happened that day as a journalist. He is giving vague answers even though he knows I am a journalist. I do not accept his testimony.”


“This is judicial harassment”


Following Takva, his lawyer Mahmut Kaçan addressed the court: “The indictment does not include a material act committed by my client. This indictment is a cliché, it is a police report turned into an indictment. Social media posts added in the case file prove that my client is a journalist. I would have made a defense statement had the file contained a material act but there is no such act or evidence.”


“My client is being subjected to judicial harassment through this indictment, a document full of disjointed [paragraphs],” Kaçan said, demanding Takva’s acquittal.


Burcu Şeber, another lawyer representing Takva, spoke next: “Did Ruşen Takva march with the participants in the demonstration? Did he shout any slogans? Did he hold a banner? Did he resist the police? We all know the answers to these questions. Had there been a slightest piece of evidence to prove any of these, I’m sure it would have been in the case file.”


Following the defense statements, the prosecutor requested a continuance to prepare their final opinion. Granting the prosecutor additional time, the court adjourned the trial until 12 October 2021.