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.

Özgür Gündem solidarity trial adjourned until December

Özgür Gündem solidarity trial adjourned until December

The next hearing in the trial of Şebnem Korur Fincancı, Ahmet Nesin and Erol Önderoğlu will take place on December 26


The trial of Reporters without Borders (RSF) Turkey Representative Erol Önderoğlu, Turkey Human Rights Foundation (TİHV) President Professor Şebnem Korur Fincancı and journalist Ahmet Nesin for participating in a solidarity campaign with the shuttered Özgür Gündem daily was adjourned until Dec. 26.

Önderoğlu, Fincancı and Nesin are on trial on charges of “conducting propaganda on behalf of a terrorist organization,” for standing in as the editor-in-chief of the pro-Kurdish Özgür Gündem for a day, as part of a solidarity campaign in which dozens of journalists participated prior to the newspaper’s closure under Turkey’s State of Emergency.

The fourth hearing in the trial was heard by the Istanbul 13th High Criminal Court on June 8.

Önderoğlu and Fincancı were in attendance, while Ahmet Nesin, who is abroad, was not present in the courtroom.

The trial started with RSF Turkey Representative Önderoğlu submitting an amicus curiae brief presented by the RSF to the court. The panel of judges then moved on to ask if the defendants in the case had any requests.

Senem Doğanoğlu, a lawyer representing Fincancı, said that the crime of “inciting the public to commit a crime,” described in Article 214 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) cannot be used to restrict free speech, as has been documented in precedent rulings by the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court of Appeals and the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). She said figures from past cases regarding accusations concerning Article 214 indicated that the crime was rarely used to convict the individuals accused of inciting the public to commit a crime. Finally, she demanded that the court refers the case to the Constitutional Court.

Lawyer Efkan Bolaç presented his client Nelson's residential address outside Turkey to the panel of judges.

The court adjourned the session until December 26 to wait for the implementation of a capture order in place for Nesin and also to write to him to receive his defense statement at the address provided by his lawyer.

The judges also rejected the defense request to apply to the Constitutional Court in the case.

Germany RSF Director Christian Mihr, Head of RSF’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia Desk Johan Bihr, RSF Communications Officer Daniel Schmidthaussler, RSF Brussels Representative Julie Majerczak, representatives from professional Dutch doctors’ associations, several journalists from France and Germany as well as from Turkey followed the trial. Many people had to stay outside the courtroom due to a lack of space inside.

Önderoğlu, who made a statement after the trial said: “We do not expect to see a positive outcome from this trial especially given the state of the judiciary after the State of Emergency declaration. Even if the outcome were positive, this wouldn’t satisfy us. Many colleagues who have never supported any sort of violence at any point in their careers were convicted [in Özgür Gündem solidarity trials]. This court sentenced journalist Murat Çelikkan to 18 months. Any positive ruling for us will not be enough as long as it doesn’t also affect our colleagues retroactively.”