Cumhuriyet reporter Avşar and Sözcü responsible editor Önemli were charged with “marking a public official involved in the fight against terrorism as a target for terrorist organizations”
CANSU PİŞKİN, İSTANBUL
The final hearing of the trial against Cumhuriyet reporter Seyhan Avşar and Sözcü Responsible Managing Editor Necdet Önemli on the charge of “marking a public official involved in the fight against terrorism as a target” under Article 6/1 of the Anti-Terror Law was held on 16 March 2021.
Issuing its judgment at the end of the hearing, the Istanbul 29th High Criminal Court acquitted both journalists of the charge, which stemmed from two news articles published in March 2019 in Cumhuriyet and Sözcü newspapers about the prosecutor who issued the indictment for the “Sözcü trial.” Avşar and Önemli were on trial for writing the full name of the prosecutor in the articles, which were about a 10-month sentence the prosecutor had been given in a previous case where he was accused of “extortion.”
P24 monitored the final hearing, where Önemli did not attend. Avşar and defense lawyers were in attendance.
Addressing the court in response to the accusations in the prosecutor’s final opinion, submitted to the court during the previous hearing, Avşar said the final opinion was based on an administrative decision instead of the law and requested to be acquitted.
Avşar’s lawyer Buket Yazıcı told the court that the indictment against her client was issued after the expiry of the four-month statute of limitations stipulated in Turkey’s Press Law and that therefore the case should be dismissed. Nesrullah Oğuz, another lawyer representing Avşar, reminded the court that the news article cited as the grounds for the accusation was about a Supreme Court of Appeals judgment and that therefore the elements of the crime were not present.
Önemli’s lawyer İsmail Yılmaz told the court that the prosecutor’s final opinion was against the law. Stressing that judges and prosecutors are not among public officials described in Article 6/1 of the Anti-Terror Law, Yılmaz said that therefore the elements of the crime were not present.
In her last word, Avşar asserted that everyone should be equal before the law, adding, “If the court gives us a sentence, this will lead to the impression that prosecutors are free to commit crimes, but journalists have no right to report on such crimes.”
Issuing their judgment at the end of the hearing, the court acquitted both journalists on the grounds that the act did not involve the elements of the crime.