Journalist Abdulkadir Turay was sentenced to 9 years in prison

27 September 2018

Ahmet Kanbal, Mardin - The now-shuttered Dicle News Agency (DİHA) reporter Abdulkadir Turay who has been imprisoned over 2 years has received a 9-year prison sentence due to his news stories and notes from his news sources.

Hearing of DİHA reporter Abdulkadir Turay, Savur Municipality Deputy Co-chair Osman Ok and Democratic Regions Party (DBP) members Mehmet Sait Tuncer, Yusuf Erat, Şakir Turan, Davut Tekin, Hamdullah Öz, Naci Arslan and Yalçın Bulgan was held in Mardin 2. High Criminal Court. Turay was detained on 9 May 2016 then put into detention accused of 'membership in a terrorist organization' and 'aiding and abetting a terrorist organization'.

Defendants submitted their defense statements in Kurdish, requested their acquittal and drew attention to the problems regarding the anonymous witness statements.

Turay: Anonymous witness is contradicting his own statements

Journalist Abdulkadir Turay claimed that the anonymous witness statements were not reflecting the truth and said: “I had been working as a journalist since 2014 until when I was detained 2016. I was an insured employee of DİHA. Every information I gathered from my source were newsworthy. They cannot be presented as evidence of crime.” 

‘Anonymous witness statements are not be relied on’

Lawyer Şehmuz Taşkın took the floor and stated that the anonymous witness statements were de facto statements which do not clarify what his clients did for the terrorist organization, but rather just stated that they were members in it. He also remarked that the witnesses changed their statements after the identification of the alleged photo of his client Osman Ok and said that their statements cannot be relied on.

Afterward, the prosecution repeated their final opinion and requested the punishment of Hamdullah Öz, Mehmet Sait Tuncer, Yalçın Bulgan, Gazeteci Abdulkadir Turay, Yusuf Erat, Mevlüde Ökmen, Osman Ok and Şakir Turan, along with the continuation of their detention. On the other hand, prosecution requested the acquittal of defendants Davut Tekin and Naci Arslan.

Defense lawyers drew attention to the problems of the anonymous witness statements once again and presented some decisions of the Constitutional Court and the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) regarding anonymous witness statements not being sufficient enough to rule for punishment. 

Defendants received a total of 74 years 3 months prison sentence

Mardin Court sentenced Abdulkadir Turay to 9 years in prison. Hamdullah Öz and Yalçın Bulgan were sentenced to 10 years 6 months, whereas Mevlüde Ökmen, Naci Arslan and Davut Tekin were sentenced to 7 years and 6 months. Additionally, defendant Yusuf Erat was sentenced to 3 years and 9 months in prison. Defendants Şakir Turan, Osman Ok, and Mehmet Sait Tuncer received 6 years jail time.

Finally, the court reviewed the duration of detention of Osman Ok and released him, whereas it ruled for the continuation of other defendants in prison.