The court rules the continuation of journalists Şahin and Gayıp’s arrest

30 January 2019
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The Prosecutor announced their opinion as to the accusations during the third hearing of the trial where Etkin News Agency (ETHA) editor Semiha Şahin and reporter Pınar Gayıp are tried whilst in detention on charges of "membership in a terrorist organization" and "spreading terrorist propaganda," which was held at İstanbul 23rd High Criminal Court today. The court ruled the continuation of the journalists' arrest and adjourned the trial until March 27.

İstanbul - Third hearing of the trial where Etkin News Agency (ETHA) employees Semiha Şahin and Pınar Gayıp are tried whilst in detention on charges of “membership in a terrorist organization” and “spreading terrorist propaganda” was held at Istanbul 23rd High Criminal Court today.

The Prosecutor presented their opinion as to the accusations and demanded Şahin and Gayıp to be punished for both “membership in a terrorist organization” and “spreading terrorist propaganda” charges. In addition, it was demanded that Şahin shall receive an additional sentence on charges of opposing to the Law on Meetings and Demonstrations numbered 2911. The Prosecutor also requested the continuation of their arrest.

The journalists were taken into custody on 13 April 2018 and their indictment was prepared in September. Evidence presented in the indictment mainly consists demonstrations that they have attended for journalistic purposes and their social media posts.

Following the announcement of the Prosecutor’s opinion as to the accusations, Semiha Şahin stated, “I do not agree with this opinion. We have been detained for nine and a half months now. We have never denied our posts; however, they are all related to our journalistic activities. I demand my acquittal.”

“Journalism as a profession is on trial today”

Taking the floor next, ETHA reporter Pınar Gayıp said: “This is not a legal but a political case that is being prosecuted. Journalism means advocating for the public’s right of access to information. Journalism as a profession is on trial today. We are targeted for being ETHA employees. I am also among the witnesses of one of the bloodiest massacres in Turkey’s recent history, the Suruç massacre. I should have been covering those trials instead of being here. I demand my acquittal.”

ETHA editor Şahin’s lawyer Özcan Karakoç took the floor and said, “In order for a person to be a member of an organization, they need to have a position within the organization’s hierarchy. In which organization does Semiha Şahin have a hierarchical position? There is no evidence pertaining to this on the file. How did the Prosecutor’s Office reach this conclusion?”

Noting that the investigation is unlawful, Pınar Gayıp’s lawyer Kader Tonç emphasized that the police officers who took the statements down on that day must be listened to. “They have no cause for arrest. Other individuals who are tried as defendants on this case have been released. Pursuant to the principle of equality, Pınar Gayıp needs to be released as well,” Tonç said.

The court ruled for the continuation of the journalists’ arrest and the trial was adjourned until 27 March. Defence to the opinion as to the accusations will be heard in the next hearing.