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.

Journalists Hürtaş and Demir’s trial adjourned

Journalists Hürtaş and Demir’s trial adjourned

The court panel rejected the request to lift the judicial control measures imposed on the defendants and adjourned the trial until 4 March 2021

 

ÇİÇEK TAHAOĞLU, ANKARA 

 

Journalists Sibel Hürtaş and Hayri Demir’s trial over their reports and social media posts criticizing Turkey’s 2018 military operation on Syria’s Afrin resumed on 25 November 2020 at the Ankara 15th High Criminal Court. The journalists are among 12 defendants in the case, facing the accusation of “publicly inciting hatred or hostility” (Article 216 of Turkish Penal Code-TCK) and “making propaganda for a terrorist organization” (Article 7 of Turkish Anti-terror Law-TMK). 

 

P24 monitored the hearing, which was the ninth in the trial. None of the defendants were present. They were represented by their lawyers. Hayri Demir’s lawyer stated that the judicial control measure imposed on his client for the past two years was affecting his work and asked the court to lift the measure. Lawyers requested the court to lift the judicial control measures on all defendants.

 

The presiding prosecutor asked the court to wait for the Justice Ministry’s permission to press an additional charge against Demir under Article 301 of the Penal Code and to reject the requests for the judicial control measures to be lifted.

 

In its interim ruling, the court decided to keep the judicial control measures imposed on the defendants in place, saying “the measures are proportional in respect of the accusations.” The court set 4 March 2021 as the date for the next hearing.

 

Case background

 

The Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor's Office launched an investigation against social media users who criticized Turkey’s military operation on Afrin, launched in January 2018. Twelve people, including journalists Hayri Demir and Sibel Hürtaş, were arrested in police raids in Ankara as part of the investigation.

 

Hürtaş was released under judicial control measures after remaining in police custody for three days while Demir was released after four days with a ban on leaving the country.

 

In April 2018, the prosecutor’s office issued an indictment against 12 people, including Hürtaş and Demir, accusing them of “publicly inciting hatred or hostility” and “making propaganda for a terrorist organization.” The Ankara 15th High Criminal Court accepted the indictment in May.

 

At the fourth hearing of the trial, held on 27 March 2019, the prosecutor requested an investigation against Demir to be launched under TCK 301 (publicly insulting the institutions of the state). The Justice Ministry has still not responded to the request.

 

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