Berzan Güneş, Muş – Seda Taşkın, a reporter for Mesopotamia News Agency, has been sentenced to 7 years a 6 months imprisonment on ‘terror’ charges by Muş 2. High Criminal Court.
Taşkın, who was already detained at the time of the trial, appeared in court via the judicial teleconferencing system SEGBİS. She was represented in the court by her legal defense team. Friends of Taşkın, Free Journalists Initiative spokesperson Hakkı Boltan and People's Democratic Party Muş MP Şevin Coşkun were all present to monitor the court proceedings.
“I was subjected to both physical and psychological torture.”
The charges against Taşkın were prompted by her reporting on the story of Sise Bingöl, an 80-year old woman who had been arrested by the government. “The arrest of Sise Bingöl raised grave public attention,” noted Taşkın. “I wanted to report on her arrest as a journalist. I met with her daughter. Of course, I was not able to publish the story, I was called to the Police Department to sign a certain document where I was taken into custody. It was my first time in police custody. I was forced to take my clothes off at the Anti-Terror Department. I resisted to the naked body search, then I was threatened. I was subjected to both physical and psychological torture.”
Taşkın also observed that the prosecution had ignored her other work. “I have been working as a journalist for 3 years. I have traveled to many cities for my job, I went to Muş, Bitlis, and Van. I reported an old man's story who worked as an iron smith. I went to Varto, there I reported on a local institution's research on children's pedagogy. I reported an old woman's story who was a sculptor. I reported on cultural stories and none of these were added to my case file.”
The prosecution alleged that Taşkın used a code-name and published articles sympathetic to terrorist organisations. “I have been called Seda since I was born,” responded Taşkın. “That is the name that my parents and friends know me by. It is not a code name.” Taşkın went on to explain that she simply posted news articles from Dicle News Agency on her social media account. “Those news articles were not published with my signature, now they are being presented as evidence against me. The indictment considers working for DİHA as evidence of crime. It was an official and legal news agency whilst I was working there.”
Taşkın’s lawyers mounted a ferocious defense based on press freedom precedents from the Constitutional Court and European Court of Human Rights. Nonetheless, after a mere ten minute recess the court chose to sentence Taşkın to 3 years and 4 months in prison for “terrorist propaganda” and 4 years and 2 months for “aiding and abetting a terrorist organization without being a member”.
Updated: November 30 2018