First hearing of journalists Demir and Hürtaş was held in Ankara

6 September 2018

Hayri Demir, Ankara – First case hearing of 11 people including journalists Sibel Hürtaş and Hayri Demir was held in Ankara 15. High Criminal Court. Journalists are charged with terrorist propanda and inciting the public towards hatred and animosity based on their social media posts criticising the Turkish state's military action in North Syria, Afrin.

The hearing was followed by representatives from Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA), Turkey Journalists Union (TGS), Progressive Journalists Association (ÇGD) and Reporters Without Borders (RSF). Hearing started with identity checks and continued with the defence statements of Hürtaş and Demir.

'I am accused of defaming an uninitiated operation'

Journalist Hayri Demir started submitting his defence statement by remarking that he is being tried solely because of his journalistic work: My tweets which are aimed to inform the public, are a part of my job as a journalist. Demir stated that his tweets were posted on January 19, which was before the Turkish state started a military operation in North Syria, he added: Prosecution claims I have defamed the military operation before it had actually started.

'Journalism is not a crime'

Sibel Hürtaş started her defence statement by drawing attention to a piece of evidence presented in the indictment, which is a photo of his 1 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 detainees submitted their defence after Demir and Hürtaş. Prosecutor stated his final opinion and requested the release of the jailed defendants considering the period of time they have spent in detention. Court ruled to release all detainees, imposing them a ban on leaving the country. Hearing was adjourned until 22 November.