Yasin Kobulan, İstanbul - Etkin News Agency (ETHA) editor Semiha Şahin and reporter Pınar Gayip had their first hearing today at İstanbul 23. High Criminal Court.
A press statement was made in front of the Çağlayan Courthouse before the hearing. People's Democratic Party MPs Ahmet Şık and Saruhan Oluç were present in the courtroom along with representatives from various political parties and civil society organisations.
'Justice, is the most urgent demand in this country'
ETHA editor Semiha Şahin started her defence by remarking that 84 journalists will appear before judges this week and that she wishes to see them freed as soon as possible: "The judiciary has become a notary for the ruling party. Justice is the foremost and most urgent demand in this country."
Şahin drew attention to the editorial policy of ETHA, which is advocating rights journalism and said: "I am a socialist journalist. I would like to recall what Uğur Mumcu said once; 'A journalist is someone who fights against power groups and governments when needed.' He stood for these principles, that is why he was brutally murdered. Hrant Dink, Metin Göktepe, Musa Anter went through similar processes. There is a cost for going after the truth, and we are paying it."
Şahin stated that non of the evidence presented in the case file constitutes a crime, and requested her release. After Şahin's defence ETHA reporter Pınar Gayip took the floor to submit her defence. She stated: "Journalism is going after the truth and revealing it. Journalists' duty is to inform the public no matter what."
'What is more natural than ETHA reporting the detention of its own employees?'
Gayip stated that the indictment involves the news story of their detention as evidence and said: "What is more natural than ETHA reporting our detention? Where is the crime in that?"
Gayip added: "The indictment portrays ETHA as a criminal organisation, I would like to say that it is an honour to be an employee of ETHA. If it is a crime to report the oppression of women, children, LGBTIs, show solidarity for the ones who have lost their jobs, support who have insisted on peace against war and solidarity against racism, I have committed this crime numerous times.”
After the lawyers submitted their defences, court ruled to keep journalists in detention and adjourned the hearing until 5 December.