Iğdır Court rules for MA reporter Berzan Güneş’s release

8 August 2018

An Iğdır court ruled for the release of former MA reporter Berzan Güneş after the first court hearing on 7 August.

International observers were present in the courtroom along with Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA) Legal Team Head Veysel Ok, who represents Güneş in the case. Güneş was taken into custody on June 11, at a police checkpoint in Şırnak where he was following a news story. He is facing "terrorist propaganda" accusations due to his social media posts.

His first hearing was held in Iğdır 2nd High Criminal Court this morning, and he submitted his defence via the judicial conferencing system known as SEGBİS. Güneş stated that his posts were newsworthy and added: "I am a journalist. The news stories I posted were authored by journalists such as Robert Fisk and Fehim Taştekin therefore they cannot be considered as propaganda for an organisation or a political party."

Güneş’s Lawyer MLSA Coordinator Veysel Ok added that Güneş’s posts fall into the scope of free speech according to the precedents of the Supreme Court and the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR).

“Defence via SEGBİS is a violation of right to fair trial”

Lawyer Ok pointed out that Güneş being forced into giving his defence via SEGBİS is unconstitutional and a violation of the precedents of the European Court of Human Rights. He stated that they travelled from İstanbul to Iğdır for the trial but were not able to visit the defendant due to Güneş’s imprisonment in Şırnak. He emphasised that Güneş’s posts did not involve any call for violence or force and added: “Turkey is a party to the ECHR, and Article 10 of the convention clearly states that everyone has the right to freedom of expression, which includes freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers.” Lawyers Ok and Kızılay requested the acquittal of their client based on the grounds that Güneş exercised his right to free speech and opinion.

The hearing continued with the prosecutor submitting his final opinion in which he requested the release of Berzan Güneş. The court board ruled for the release of Güneş, imposing him a ban on leaving the country. The hearing was adjourned until 4 September.