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.
Trial of journalists who reported on torture allegations to continue in January
Court lifts judicial control measures imposed on all five journalists at the third hearing of the case. Next hearing set for 6 January 2022
RUŞEN TAKVA, VAN
The third hearing of the trial against Mezopotamya news agency (MA) reporters Adnan Bilen, Cemil Uğur and Zeynep Durgut, Jin News reporter Şehriban Abi and freelance journalist Nazan Sala on the charge of “membership in a terrorist organization” under Article 314/2 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) was held at the Van 5th High Criminal Court on 21 October 2021.
Bilen, Uğur, Abi and Sala were jailed pending trial in October 2020 after reporting on allegations that soldiers had tortured two locals in Çatak, a district of the eastern Van province. All four journalists remained in pre-trial detention for six months as part of the case before being released under judicial control measures at their first hearing in April.
News reports penned by the journalists are held as evidence for the accusation in the indictment, which alleges that the media outlets the journalists work for have been “publishing provocative content against the state.” Sala is additionally charged with “terrorism propaganda” for her social media posts.
P24 monitored the third hearing. Bilen and his lawyer Murat Timur were in attendance. Uğur, Durgut, Abi and Sala submitted letters of excuse. The court initially did not allow spectators in the courtroom. Following objections, the court decided to let two journalists in the courtroom to follow the hearing.
Bilen addressed the court first and reiterated his previous defense statements. Lawyer Murat Timur spoke next, asking the court to lift the judicial control measures imposed on his client and requesting that the equipment seized from the journalists during the investigation, including their cameras and computer hard drives, be returned.
Following a brief recess, the court issued an interim ruling, in which it decided to lift the judicial control measures imposed on all five journalists but denied the return of their equipment. Also ruling to inquire about the outcome of a separate investigation against Sala, the court adjourned the trial until 6 January 2022.