Yasin Kobulan, İstanbul - Semiha Şahin and Pınar Gayip, journalists for Etkin News Agency (ETHA), appeared at İstanbul 23. High Criminal Court today, facing for the first time the terrorism charges which have been made against them.
People's Democratic Party MPs Ahmet Şık and Saruhan Oluç, as well as journalists and members of civil society, were present in the courtroom to monitor the proceedings.
Şahin, an editor for ETHA, was the first to present her statement of defense. She began by noting that 84 journalists will appear in court this week on various charges of terrorism or sedition, a tragic fact which she lamented. "The judiciary has become a notary for the ruling party. Justice is the foremost and most urgent demand in this country." Şahin went on to explain the editorial policy of ETHA. "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."
Gayip then took the floor to present her own defense statement. She began with a fiery defense of journalism as a calling. "Journalism is going after the truth and revealing it. Journalists' duty is to inform the public no matter what." She then drew attention to the indictment presented against them, which uses as evidence a news story which ETHA published about Şahin and Gayip’s arrest. "What is more natural than ETHA reporting our detention? Where is the crime in that?"
She concluded by remarking that "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.”
The court chose to keep the two in detention, and adjourned the hearing until December 5.
Updated: December 6 2018