Court acquits Didim-based journalists for “provoking people to animosity” charges

9 April 2019
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In the trial where staff members of Didim-based local newspapers Özgür Ses (Free Voice) and Mavi Didim (Blue Didim) faced “provoking the people to hatred and animosity” charges, the court decided to acquit journalists

İzmir -  Third hearing of the trial where Didim Özgür Ses owner Mustafa Öge, Mavi Didim newspaper owner Ergun Korkmaz and reporter Erdem Özen face “provoking the people to hatred and animosity” charges resumed at Didim 1st Criminal Court of First Instance today. The journalists face these charges for reporting on Labor Party's (EMEP) press statement.

Didim’s local newspaper Özgür Ses owner Mustafa Öge, Mavi Didim owner Ergun Korkmaz, reporter Erdem Özen were indicted for publishing EMEP press statement criticizing Turkey’s military operation in Afrin, Syria on 21 January 2018. An investigation was launched on 24 January 2018 and the Prosecutor’s Offıce argued that this press statement meant black propaganda against the Turkish nation. Following a brief police investigation conducted in Didim, the news story that reported on EMEP’s Didim Provincial Office’s statement with the title “Let the Afrin operation stop, fraternity of peoples is being bombed in Afrin and Turkey is dragged to a messy war in the region” was presented as evidence against the journalist. EMEP’s Didim Chairman Kazım Temiz was indicted alongside the journalists.

Although the indictment refers to the European Court of Human Rights’ relevant rulings on the right to freedom of expression, the prosecutor still accused the defendants with “provoking the people to hatred and animosity” charges.

During the first hearing of the trial which took place on 22 June 2018, the journalists stated that they did not have criminal intent, and that they published EMEP’s statement because just as they publish statements made by other political parties and demanded their acquittal. The defense lawyers argued that the concerned news stories do not have any criminal element, adding that these news stories were published in order to provide information to the public, per the right to information.  

In today’s hearing, the court decided to acquit all defendants.