Ruling to wait for another case file against Boğatekin to be sent over to be merged with the ongoing case, the court adjourned the trial until 22 December
NALİN ÖZTEKİN, ADIYAMAN
Journalist Özgür Boğatekin, the news director of the Adıyaman-based Gerger Fırat newspaper, appeared before a court in Adıyaman on 19 November 2020 for his retrial on the charge of “making propaganda for a terrorist organization.”
This was the third hearing of the retrial, overseen by the Adıyaman 2nd High Criminal Court.
P24 monitored the hearing, where Boğatekin and his lawyer Aysun Avcı were in attendance. It was noticed that no measures were taken against the Covid-19 pandemic in the courthouse or the courtroom. Along with the Boğatekin family, Press in Arrest observers also monitored the hearing.
The first trial where Boğatekin was sentenced to 18 months and 22 days in prison by the Adıyaman 2nd High Criminal Court, later was overturned by the 4th Panel Chamber of the Gaziantep Regional Courts of Justice. The Panel Chamber also ruled to merge the Tunceli 1st High Criminal Court’s “propaganda” case file against Boğatekin dated 2018 with the current file and continue the prosecution at the Adıyaman High Criminal Court.
In the third hearing of the retrial, it was noted that Tunceli 1st High Criminal Court still didn’t follow the 4th Panel Chamber of the Gaziantep Regional Courts of Justice’s decision to merge and send the file.
In the hearing, the court panel reminded Boğatekin of his social media posts subjected to the indictment.
In his defense, Boğatekin said that he has been working as a journalist since the age of 14-15 and started his career as a reporter and cameraman alongside his father, Hacı Boğatekin. The latter has been a journalist for nearly 50 years.
Stating that the Gerger Fırat newspaper, which was broadcasting on the internet during this period, operated in accordance with the press ethics and for the people's right to be informed, “We are the only newspaper in Adıyaman that doesn’t avoid meddling. Our stance has always been in opposition. The domestic court did not consider that we were journalists while reaching its decision,” said Boğatekin.
Boğatekin continued as follows: “Numerous investigations and lawsuits have been filed against our authors and reporters. We have been detained and imprisoned many times. Our journalistic work has been targeted by the rulers of every period. It is the ground of this case today. Otherwise, there can be no other explanation for my arrest and trial years later due to the news and posts published on the newspaper website in 2014.
“The government, which held an official meeting with the PYD official in Ankara, considers journalism a crime. It is a contradiction. It is political, not legal. As a result, I would like to say that honest and public interest journalism was my only concern. I tried to fulfill my duty without deviating from journalism principles. The removal of the judicial grip on the press is essential for society's right to be informed. I demand my acquittal.”
Following Boğatekin, his lawyer took the floor. Stating that the domestic court didn’t consider his client’s profession as a journalist, “The press is free under the Constitution and can never be censored. Not every piece of news is propaganda; if so, every critical journalist must be tried. These social media posts were shared during the peace process when the government was at the negotiation table with these people. But if a journalist reporting at that time is now on trial, it means that there is no legal predictability in Turkey. The alleged crime cut the incident out of context. A journalist doesn’t write just what pleases [the rulers],” said Atty. Avcı and noted that they will defend themselves in detail after the prosecutor’s final opinion.
Following the defenses, the court panel reached its interim decision and ruled to wait for the Tunceli 1st High Criminal Court’s case file against Boğatekin to merge and adjourned the trial until 22 December 2020.