Two separate indictments were filed against journalist Necla Demir, the former publisher of the news portal Gazete Karınca, in 2018 and 2020.
The first investigation about Demir started when a person informed the Prime Ministry Communication Center (BİMER) about a news report published on Gazete Karınca. The Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor's Office launched an investigation against Demir on 21 January 2018. Istanbul Police Department prepared a report on 8 May 2018, claiming that "Turkey is shown as occupying government" in Gazete Karınca’s reports.
Completing the investigation, the prosecutor's office issued its indictment on 7 December 2018. In the indictment, Demir was accused of "making a chain of propaganda for a terrorist organization" due to 15 news reports published on Gazete Karınca's website between 21 January 2018 and 25 March 2018.
In the three-page indictment, it was stated that “in the examination of the news reports as a whole it was understood that unilateral and biased news and comments are included, the operation of the Turkish Armed Forces in Afrin is tried to be portrayed as occupation, torture, and civilian massacre; in this way, it has been concluded that care has been taken to inform in favor of the PKK/KCK and the PYD/YPG, the Syrian extension of this organization; the content shared by the suspect is praising and legitimate the acts of the armed terrorist organization PKK/KCK and its Syrian extension PYD/YPG that involve force, violence, and threats.”
The first hearing of the trial held by the Istanbul 33rd High Criminal Court was held on 23 May 2019. Making her defense at the hearing, Demir said that the news which is subjected to the accusation was made within the scope of journalism activities and freedom of thought and expression. Demir stated that the indictment was against the law and freedom of the press and demanded her acquittal.
The prosecutor, who presented his final opinion at the first hearing, requested that Demir be punished.
In the third hearing held on 11 October 2019, Demir repeated her defense, which was not recorded due to a malfunction in the Audio and Video Information System (SEGBİS), and requested her acquittal.
Announcing its decision, the court ruled for the acquittal of Demir because "the legal elements of the charged crime did not occur."
“Insulting the president” charge
The second indictment against Demir was issued for "insulting the President."
Istanbul Bakırköy Chief Public Prosecutor's Office, which evaluated another notification made to BİMER with the claim that "some articles and posts contain crime" in Gazete Karınca, launched an investigation against Demir on 11 January 2019. Following the investigation’s completion, the prosecutor's office, which issued its indictment on 3 February 2020, requested that Demir be punished for "insulting the President."
In the indictment, it was claimed that the news reports “RedHack members spoke: Why did they hack Albayrak?” dated 10 October 2016, and “Wikileaks documents: Erdogan is dragging the country into civil conflict" dated 6 October 2016 contains insults against the president.
Following the indictment’s acceptance by the Istanbul Bakırköy 8th Criminal Court of First Instance, the first hearing of the trial was to be held on 13 May 2020. However, due to the measures within the scope of the Covid-19 pandemic, the hearing was postponed to 8 October 2020.
Making her defense at the hearing on 8 October, Demir stated that the news in question did not contain insulting content and demanded her acquittal.
Presenting his final opinion, the prosecutor demanded Demir's acquittal, drawing attention to the fact that the insult crime elements did not occur in the news, which is subjected to the accusation, and that the posts remained in the nature of criticism.
The court acquitted Demir in the third hearing held on October 28, 2020. Referring to the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights, the Constitutional Court, and the Supreme Court in its reasoned decision on the same day, the court said that “people who deal with politics should endure harsh, heavy and even hurtful criticisms against them and that this is an indispensable element of democratic social life.”