Court keeps Jinha reporter in prison, adjourns trial until July

7 May 2019

A Diyarbakır Court has ruled to keep Jinha News Agency correspondent Kibriye Evren in prison

Diyarbakır - The Diyarbakır 5th High Criminal Court on Tuesday (7 May) ruled to keep journalist Kibriye Evren, who faces up to 20 years in prison on charges of “membership in a terrorist organization” and “conducting propaganda on behalf of a terrorist organization” over her news reports and social media posts, in detention.

Evren, who has been in Diyarbakır Prison for the past seven months -- since her initial detention on 9 October 2018 in Diyarbakır -- is a reporter with the pro-Kurdish and feminist Jin News Agency. She didn’t attend the fifth hearing on 7 May, where a verdict was expected. The court adjourned her trial until 18 July in order for the Diyarbakır Court to review another investigation where she appears as a defendant in Ankara and to give time to the defendant to prepare her final defense statement.

The evidence against the journalist consists of her news reports, social media posts, secret witness testimony and records of her travels abroad. The journalist herself has been on a hunger strike for 143 days to protest against the solitary confinement of Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan.

Evren’s fifth hearing

Hakkı Boltan, a spokesperson for the Free Journalists Initiative (ÖGİ), Evren’s relatives and a large number of journalists attended Tuesday's hearing.

At the beginning of the session, Evren’s lawyers read out a message from the journalist announcing that she will not attend any of the scheduled hearings until her and other hunger strikers’ demands are met.

Since early March, about 7000 political prisoners in Turkey have been on a hunger strike, demanding an end to Öcalan’s solitary confinement conditions. On 6 May, lawyers who were allowed to meet with the PKK leader, who is imprisoned on İmralı Island in the Marmara Sea off Istanbul, said Öcalan had asked the strikers to end their protest without causing further bodily harm to themselves.

Kibriye Evren faces between 8.5 to 20 years in prison as per the final statement of the prosecutor submitted on 16 April.

Result Temur, a lawyer for Evren, stated in the hearing that there was a possibility that the hunger strike might end, adding that extra time for this to happen would enable Evren to finally appear in court to submit her final defense statement.

Temur also said that suspects in other trials accused of similar charges had been released pending trial, adding that another defendant in a similar case was recently acquitted in the case and asked for her release.

“Dissident journalism is not terrorism”

Lawyer Pirozhan Karali, who also made a statement in the trial, stated that there is no evidence to suggest that her client Kibriye Evren is linked to a terrorist organization. Adding that the only realm of activity her client engages in is journalism, Karali said: “Secret witnesses haven’t given any clear description of which order my client has taken and from whom, and what she has done in line with such an order. My client is a dissident journalist. This doesn’t make her a member of a terrorist organization.”

Evren’s next hearing is scheduled for 18 July.