Hayri Demir, Ankara – 11 people, including journalists Sibel Hürtaş and Hayri Demir, had their first hearing on terrorism charges before Ankara 15. High Criminal Court today. The defendants are charged with distributing terrorist propaganda and inciting the public towards hatred and animosity. The case revolves around social media posts made by the defendants which were critical of Turkish military operations in Afrin, Syria.
Representatives from the Media and Law Studies Association, Turkey Journalists Union, Progressive Journalists Association and Reporters Without Borders were present to monitor the proceedings.
Demir began his defense statement by drawing attention to the prosecution’s focus on his journalistic work. “My tweets which are aimed to inform the public, are a part of my job as a journalist.” He then noted that the tweets at issue were posted on January 19 – before the Turkish military operation in Afrin. “The prosecution claims I have defamed the military operation before it had actually started.”
Hürtaş then presented his defense statement, which he began by focusing on one piece of evidence the prosecution has presented against him: a picture of his one-year old son. “I have been a journalist for 20 years. I have spent long years in these hall ways, as a justice reporter. However I do not understand my own indictment or what I am accused of. If I had received this indictment as a journalist, I would have thrown it away because it is not newsworthy. My defence statement is composed of 5 words: Journalism is not a crime.”
The prosecutor acknowledged the lengthy detention which the defendants have been subject to, and requested that they be released. The court accepted his request and released the defendants, albeit subject to a ban on overseas travel. The court then adjourned the trial until November 22.
Updated: December 6 2018