Journalist Karataş’s international travel ban is not lifted, again

3 April 2019

Diyarbakır, Deniz Tekin - Fifth hearing of the trial where Evrensel columnist Yusuf Karataş faces up to 22 years in prison for “founding and managing a terrorist organization” charges took place at the Diyarbakır 9th High Criminal Court today, the court did not lift Karataş’s international travel ban and adjourned the trial until 11 September.

As part of the investigation conducted in Diyarbakır targeting the Democratic Society Congress (DTK), Evrensel daily columnist Yusuf Karataş was indicted for “founding and managing a terrorist organization” charges with the prosecutor demanding up to 22 years in prison for Karataş. Panels, workshops, press statements and conferences that he had attended while working as a reporter in Diyarbakır are presented as evidence against the journalist. Yusuf Karataş and his lawyer Semir Karadaş attended the hearing. Labor Party (EMEP) Diyarbakır Provincial Chairperson Çağla Yolaşan, Dersim Provincial Chairperson Ergin Tekin and journalists were among those who monitored the trial.

Documents that were added to the case file between hearings were read out loud. Then, the prosecutor requested the international travel ban for Karataş to remain in effect and requested sample voice recordings provided by Karataş to be compared with the tape recordings that were allegedly collected at the DTK building for necessary forensic analyses to be conducted.

Karataş took the floor next. Noting that he is a columnist for Evrensel daily and a political party executive, Karataş stated: “I followed the concerned DTK activities specified in the indictment as an executive for the Labor Party. Moreover, we know that DTK was considered a legitimate political party by the President and the Prime Minister of the time. The things presented as evidence against me in this file are my conversations with my colleagues from Evrensel and my conversations with executives from the Labor Party’s Urfa office. These are presented as evidence for criminal activities of a terrorist organization. I’ve had an international travel ban for almost two years now. As a journalist and a politician, I receive many invitations from abroad to attend various panels and talks but I cannot attend any of them because of this ban. This is affecting my life adversely, both financially and socially. I demand this international travel ban to be lifted.”   

Karataş’s lawyer Semir Karadaş repeated that his client is a journalist and a political party member and presented one of the invitations for a panel from abroad to the court as an example. Noting that his client unjustly suffers from this international travel ban, Karadaş requested the ban to be lifted as well.

Following a short break, the court announced their interim decision. The court ruled to reject Karataş and his lawyer’s demand for the lifting of the travel ban. The court took the letter from İstanbul Forensic Medicine Department into consideration and demanded Karataş to refer to the Forensic Medicine Department with two up-to-date photos and his ID-card in order to provide sample voice recordings.  The court also decided that a forensic report should be prepared following a comparative analysis of Karataş’s voice recordings to determine whether it is indeed him speaking in the tapes that were allegedly recorded at the DTK building. The court adjourned the trial until September 11 and demanded all incomplete documents to be added to the file and necessary forensic reports to be completed until then.