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.

Prosecution demands conviction against journalist Hayri Demir

Prosecution demands conviction against journalist Hayri Demir

The prosecutor has referred to Demir’s employment at Dicle News Agency (DİHA) on the basis of the accusations and demanded the journalist be charged for “membership in a terrorist organization” and “terrorism propaganda.”




The 14th hearing in the trial of journalist Hayri Demir on charges of “membership in a terrorist organization” and “terrorism propaganda” over his journalistic activities in northern Syria was held at the Ankara 15th High Criminal Court on 4 October 2022.


Demir and his attorney Nuray Özdoğan attended the hearing, which P24 followed. A large group of people, including representatives of the DİSK Press-Labor, the Journalists’ Union of Turkey (TGS), the Human Rights Association (İHD) and Amnesty International also attended the hearing.


Before providing the opinion as to the accusations, the prosecutor demanded that the investigation be expanded, and digital materials be sent for another expert examination. The prosecutor requested Demir to be sentenced for “membership in a terrorist organization” and “terrorism propaganda” in their opinion as to the accusations. The prosecutor referred to Demir’s employment at the now-defunct Dicle News Agency (DİHA)

as the basis of the charge of “membership in a terrorist organization.” The prosecutor asserted that DİHA “was the propaganda center for the PKK (outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party).” The prosecutor also asserted that photographs among the digital materials, which were confiscated during a raid on Demir’s house, “contained images showing Demir with organization members and that Demir was aware of the organization’s actions.” The prosecutor added that Demir regarded the organization’s acts as legitimate.


Meanwhile, the president of the panel of judges warned İHD Co-President Öztürk Türkdoğan, who was checking his phone, and said, “Step outside if you have other business, recording in the courtroom is forbidden.” Although Türkdoğan reminded the court that he was also an attorney-at-law and stated that he was not recording, the president of the panel of judges insisted and said, “Turn off your phone.”


The president of the court interferes with Demir’s defense statement


Demir provided his defense statement against the opinion as to the accusations and said, “The prosecutor’s office provided a news item prepared by me about an award-winning documentary, which was not subject to a lawsuit, as the basis of the accusations. Again, sharing a song, which was subject to neither an investigation nor a lawsuit, forms the basis of the accusations. Yes, I travelled to Syria, and I would do so again. Today, demonstrations are going on in Iran. If the court had not banned me from travelling abroad, I would have travelled there for reporting. I have practiced and am still practicing journalism. Salih Muslim was invited to Turkey and officially welcomed. News I made during that period are now seen as subjects of criminal charges. crime. There are mistakes in transcriptions, a woman’s words were included in the indictment and the file as though they were mine. After returning from Syria, my house was burgled and somehow, only my memory cards were stolen. Somehow, those cards then appeared at the security directorate”.


While providing his defense statement, Demir was interrupted by the president of the panel of judges, who told him “You’ve been repeating yourself”. The president of the panel of judges said “You have been saying the same things for the last four or five hearings. Do not repeat these things for us. I understand that you have the right to speak. [Your words] should not be constantly recorded over and over. We are wasting our time. I could give you as much time as you want if you request.”

In response, Demir said, “It is also my time that is being wasted. I am forced to defend myself for practicing journalism when I could be making news.”


Demir underlined that he had travelled to Syria with an identity card issued by the District Governorate of Suruç and stated that the card was included in the file. Demir asked whether a lawsuit would be filed against him if he had prepared news in favor of ISIS and added, “If the news I made were taken into consideration, ISIS could not have carried out those massacres. I have practiced journalism and I will continue to do so. The punishment demanded here is in fact a punishment for journalism. This has almost become the fate of journalists.”


The president of the panel of judges once again interrupted Demir after he reminded the court of Ferhat Tepe, a relative of Demir who was found dead by a fisherman at the Sivrice shore of Lake Hazar in Elazığ in August 1993.

The president of the court told Demir, “What is the relevance of your relative to this the trial? Make your defense based on the file. Otherwise, I will put an end to it.” Upon Demir objecting that what he said was related to journalism, the president of the court responded, “Tell that to the Association of Journalists.” When Demir continued to speak about journalism, the president of the court ended the defense statement.


Demir’s attorney Nuray Özdoğan stated that it was unlawful to stop her client’s statements in court. Özdoğan said, “The prosecutor talked about journalistic activities in the opinion. The prosecution demanded that my client be charged on membership [in an organization] by interpreting the news sources and news content of my client. The prosecution took Demir’s employment at DİHA as an element of crime. We think it was wrong for Demir’s defense statement to be interrupted. It is unlawful for the prosecution to make decisions as though it has judicial authority.”


Özdoğan demanded additional time to prepare defense statements as to the accusations. The court accepted the request, and the trial was adjourned until 21 December 2022.