Özgür Gündem trial: Court ruled to keep Sancılı in prison

10 October 2018

Berfin Azdal, İstanbul – Former employees of the now-defunct newspaper Özgür Gündem secured a mixed bag of judicial wins and losses in court at İstanbul 23. High Criminal Court today. The court lifted a judicial order preventing journalist Eren Keskin from traveling overseas and returned improperly seized digital materials, but also chose to keep journalist Kemal Sancılı in pre-trial detention.

The nine defendants in the case have been accused of “disrupting the unity and territorial integrity of the state” and “membership in a terrorist organization”. Bilge Aykut, Filiz Koçali, Aslı Erdoğan, Necmiye Alpay, Ragıp Zarakolu were editorial consultants for Özgür Gündem, Zana (Bilir) Kaya and İnan Kızılkaya were Editor-in-Chief and Managing Editor respectively, Eren Keskin was a writer and Kemal Sancılı was a grant holder.

Alpay, Keskin, and Kızılkaya attended the hearing in person, while Sancılı appeared from pre-trial detention via the judicial teleconferencing system SEGBİS.

Keskin remarked that the proceedings violate the Turkish Constitution and various international conventions which Turkey is party to, added that “Our right to freedom of expression is violated, I am being tried because of a text which I am not the author of.”

Erdal Doğan, a lawyer for the defense, requested the return of digital materials which were added to the case file after the indictment was finalized, a request which the court accepted. Prosecutor Aydın Boztaş argued that Kemal Sancılı is such an escape risk that ongoing detention is warranted, but accepted that the judicial control order over Keskin could be lifted. The court accepted both of these recommendations. The hearing was then adjourned until January 17 2019.


Updated: November 30 2018