Journalists on trial: Week of June 4 - 9

4 June 2018

Below is a list of freedom of expression trials where journalists and others appear before judges between June 4 and June 9 for stating their beliefs:

4 June Monday: Özgür Gündem and Kazım Kızıl 

  • Filiz Koçali, Aslı Erdoğan, Necmiye Alpay, Ragıp Zarakolu, Zana Kaya, İnan Kızılkaya, Eren Keskin, Kemal Sancılı, Bilge Aykut of the shuttered Özgür Gündem newspaper will appear at 10:00 am at the Şişli 23 High Criminal Court. The newspaper was shut down with a police operation on 16 August 2016, some of the members of the editorial board of the journal, its writers and members of the advisory board were detained or arrested in the investigation. Nine defendants face charges of "disrupting the unity of the state and the integrity of the country" and "membership in a terrorist organization". In the last session in the case on 6 March, the court had ruled to remove an arrest warrant which was in place for Ragıp Zarakolu.
  •  Documentary filmmaker Kazım Kızıl and 23 other defendants will be tried on charges of "insulting the president" and "violating the law on demonstrations" at the İzmir 33. High Criminal Court. Kazım Kızıl, a freelance journalist and documentary producer, was taken into custody during protests held on April 17, 2017 after a referendum on April 16, 2017. He was held in prison for three months.

Tuesday, June 5: Idris Yılmaz-Erhan Akabaş and Selman Keleş

  • Journalists Selman Keleş and Arif Aslan of the shuttered Dicle Media News Agency (DİHA), will appear before the Van 5. High Criminal Court on charges of “membership of a terrorist organization” in relation with their news reports. The two were arrested on 31 March last year but were released in the first hearing in November after eight months of detention.
  •  Local Van journalist İdris Yilmaz, who remains imprisoned in another case in the and journalist Erhan Akbaş face “defamation” charges for reporting on a child abuse story in Erciş. The case was initiated by the local education director. Yılmaz, who is supported legally by MLSA, is imprisoned in another investigation. He is being kept at Elazığ Prison.


June 6 Wednesday

  • Cumhuriyet newspaper reporter Canan Coşkun stands accused of “targeting a prosecutor” in a news report about two hunger strikers. The trial will be heard at the Istanbul 26. High Criminal Court at Çağlayan.
  • Boğaziçi University students will be tried by the 32. High Criminal Court on charges of "spreading terrorist propaganda". Thirteen students were arrested by police for protesting against a military operation Turkey carried out in northern Syria. The trial starts at 09:30 a.m.

Thursday, June 7

  •  Five academics from the Boğaziçi University, who are accused of "propaganda for a terrorist organization" for signing a declaration condemning security operations conducted by the Turkish government in the country's southeast in late 2015 and early 2016, will be tried by the 35. High Criminal Court at Çağlayan. The session starts at 8.30 a.m.
  • Eleven authors of the Zaman newspaper will be tried on 7 June through 8 June by the Istanbul 13. High Criminal Court at Şişli. In the final session, authors Ali Bulaç and Mehmet Özdemir were released from prison and columnist Şahin Alpay's house arrest ruling was lifted. Six defendants remain imprisoned in the case.


Friday, June 8

  •  DİHA executive Zekeriya Güzüpek and managing editor Dicle Müftüoğlu face between 7.5 to 15 years of imprisonment on charges of “membership in a terrorist organization” for working at the shuttered news agency. The case is being heard by the 5. High Criminal Court of Diyarbakır. The case was launched following a tip-off filed by an individual living in Erzincan and it is based on 20 news reports published by DİHA in 2015.
  • People’s Democratic Party (HDP) imprisoned former co-Chairman Selahattin Demirtaş and HDP deputy Sırrı Süreyya Önder will be tried by the 26.High Criminal Court at Çağlayan on charges of “terror propaganda” in relation with speeches they made at Newroz celebrations of 2013.