In pre-trial detention since October 2017 for her reporting, ETHA reporter İsminaz Temel was not released on the grounds that she might spoil evidence from 2016
Canan Coşkun, İstanbul – The mass hearing of six reporters from Etkin News Agency and lawyers from the Law Bureau of the Oppressed took place today at the İstanbul 27. High Criminal Court. Three defendants, including journalist İsminaz Temel, were kept in detention over fears that they might escape or spoil evidence.
The defendants have been charged with ‘membership in a terrorist organization’ and distributing ‘terrorist propaganda’ over their participation in events in 2016. Some had already submitted their defense statements in past hearings, so only three presented their case today.
Ali Haydar Doğan took the floor to note that he lived in Gazi Neighborhood. As a communications student interested in social events and dynamics, he argued that it was natural for him to take photos of events taking place in that area – and more importantly, that his motivations for doing so were not criminal. Mehmet Aslan, a member of the Socialist Party of the Oppressed, then rose to make his defense. He remarked that the indictment against him was based on a photo of him at a Saturday Mothers gathering, which does not constitute a crime.
The final defendant to present their defense statement was İsminaz Temel, a journalist for Etkin News Agency. The indictment against her alleges that she took part in anti-government demonstrations. In response, she noted that “All of photos presented as evidence against me show that I am holding a notebook in my hand, and carrying my camera around my neck.” Temel went on to note that while it is not a crime to participate in such demonstrations, even if it was “There is a lot of evidence to prove that I was there as a journalist, however there is no evidence to support that I was there as a protester.”
The prosecution has argued that Temel must be kept in detention on the basis of its concern that she might attempt to spoil evidence against her. Temel reminded the court that she was taken into custody 13 months ago. “The evidence in the file dates back to 2016. The continuation of my detention is grounded upon an escape risk and that I might spoil the evidence. There is no new evidence in the file, so how can we spoil the ones from 2016? If I didn’t run away then, where will I go now?”
Temel concluded by ruminating on the importance of freedom. “The worst of all evil is to steal from one’s freedom. I am a journalist, and that is what the file and the evidence show. I live a righteous and legitimate life, and I will continue to do so. I am not running away. My life is proof of that. I want this unlawfulness to come to an end after 13 months.”
The court ruled that three defendants, including Temel, are to remain in detention. Three others have been released. All six will appear before the court once more on February 14 2019.
Updated: December 3 2019