Freedom of expression trials in Turkey: Week of 7 May

6 May 2018

Many journalists, academics and activists will be tried in Turkish courts this week for expressing their opinions. Here is a list of the trials that will take place between 7 May - 11 May:

7 May Monday

  • Özgür Gündem solidarity trial

In the İstanbul 14. High Criminal Court at 13.40 and 14.40 Editors, journalists and columnists for now-shuttered Özgür Gündem newspaper will be tried on charges of “overtly inciting a crime” and “terrorist propaganda”.

The suspects are being tried due to their participation in a solidarity campaign for  Özgür Gündem, where they stood as the editor-in-chief of the daily for a day.

Co-Editor-in-Chief of Özgür Gündem Eren Keskin, the Managing Editor Reyhan Çapan,  journalist Reyhan Hacıoğlu, author and translator Ayşe Berktay, lawyers Nuray Özdoğan and Ayşe Batumlu, political party members Celalettin Can and Filiz Koçali will be tried in the session at 13:30. Journalists Faruk Eren, Ertuğrul Mavioğlu, Celal Başlangıç, İhsan Çaralan, Fehim Işık, Öncü Akgül and Ömer Ağın will be tried at 14:30.

  • Syrian MİT Trucks trial

In the Istanbul 14th High Criminal Court at 14:00 Can Dündar, former editor-in-chief of Cumhuriyet newspaper, will be tried on charges of “obtaining secret documents for espionage purposes” and “aiding a terrorist organization whilst not being a member” after Cumhurıyet reported that trucks belonging to Turkey’s National Intelligence Service (MİT) allegedly carried weaponry across the border to Syria.

The case included two other defendants; Cumhuriyet’s Ankara correspondent Erdem Gül and opposition party CHP MP Enis Berberoğlu, who is currently imprisoned.

Monday’s trial is a retrial after the Court of Cessation overturned an initial ruling of the 14th Hİgh Criminal Court which had sentenced Dündar to five years and 10 months in prison and Gül to five years.

On June 14, 2017, MP Berberoğlu was sentenced to 25 years on charges of “political and military espionage” – later reduced to five years, 10 months by another court ruling.

  • Gezi Park lawyers

Forty-four lawyers will be tried by the  Şişli 65th High Criminal Court for “violating the law on demonstrations and marches” for organizing a protest outside the Çağlayan Courthouse during the anti-government Gezi protests in 2013. They face up to two years for the alleged violation.

8 May Tuesday

  • In the Batman 2nd High Criminal Court, Şerife Oruç, a reporter for the shuttered pro-Kurdish Dicle News Agency (DİHA) will be on trial on charges of “membership in a terrorist organization.” She has been imprisoned for 23 months.

  • In the 28. High Criminal Court at Çağlayan Courthouse at 10:00, journalist İshak Karakaş, who has been imprisoned since 26 January, will appear before court on charges of “spreading terrorist propaganda”. Karakaş was arrested after posting tweets that criticized the Turkish government's operations in Afrin, Syria.

  • At 9 am in the 36. High Criminal and 37. High Criminal Courts, academics Gonca Berksoy, İnci Özkan Kerestecioğlu and Tülay Erkan and two others expelled from Işık University whose names couldn’t be clarified, will be tried for signing a petition in January 2016, which called on the Turkish state to put an end to military operations in the country’s southeastern provinces that were conducted in late 2015 and early 2016. Many civilian lives were allegedly claimed by Turkish security forces in these operations.

9 May Wednesday

  • In the 14th High Criminal Court former Cumhuriyet editor-in-Chief Can Dündar, Ankara Bureau Chief Erdem Gül and MP  Enis Berberoğlu will be the defendants in a trial regarding Cumhuriyet’s “MİT trucks to Syria” report on charges of “aiding a terrorist organization while not being a member.” Berberoğlu is imprisoned in the case.

  • In the 37th Criminal Court of First Instance at 9.30 am freedom of speech lawyer Veysel Ok will be tried on charges of “insulting Turkish judicial organs” for stating that the judiciary in Turkey is  not independent in a 2015 interview. The reporter who conducted the interview, Cihan Acar, is also a defendant in the case.

10 May Thursday

  • Eleven columnists from the shuttered Zaman daily will be tried at 10:00 am at the İstanbul 13. High Criminal Court. They are accused of “attempting the overthrow the constitutional order” and “membership in a terrorist organization”, which are punishable, respectively, with life and between 7.5 to 15 years in prison. The defendants are Ali Bulaç, İbrahim Karayeğen, Mümtazer Türköne, Şahin Alpay, Mehmet Özdemir, Mustafa Ünal, Ahmet Turan Alkan, Nuriye Ural, İhsan Duran Dağı, Lalezer Sarıibrahimoğlu ve Orhan Kemal Cengiz. Six of the defendants are still in prison.

  • Academics Adalet Alada, Murat Birdal, Özgün Akduran, Raşit Tükel, Pınar Saip and Nurten Ömeroğlu from İstanbul University and Galatasaray University academics Burcu Konakçı, Seçil Doğuç, Fatma Gül Karagöz and Doğu Toksöz will be on trial for signing the “Peace Petition” on 10 May Thursday and 11 May Friday at the Şişli 34. High Criminal Court.

  • Zaman columnist Ali Ünal will be tried by the Uşak 2. High Criminal Court, facing two consecutive life sentences on charges of Founding and leading a terrorist organization; membership in a terrorist organization; Attempt to overthrow the constitutional order.

11 May Friday

  • The hearing in the trial of the Zaman columnists that begins on Thursday will continue into its second day.