Trial of 7 journalists who shared news report on general adjourned

8 May 2019

Diyarbakır - The trial of seven journalists who face charges of “turning a counterterrorism official into a target” for sharing news reports about a lieutenant general who was corps commander overseeing the Sur district of Diyarbakır province in 2015 and 2016 continued today at the Diyarbakır 9th High Criminal Court.

Eight suspects, including seven journalists of the sibce shuttered Dicle News Agency (DİHA) and the Özgür Gündem daily, face between one year to three years of prison sentences in the trial initiated by Gendarmerie Lieutenant General Musa Çitil, who was at the time Deputy Commander in Chief of the Gendarmerie Command led the Turkish security forces operations in Kurdish cities during curfews in the region three years earlier.

Earlier, a request by Çitil to intervene in the trial was granted by the court.

The news reports shared by the defendants on social media had the title “Name of the siege: Flag 12, led by Musa Çitil”.

The court adjourned the hearing until 2 October to wait for the execution of an arrest warrant issued for Selim Gönenç, who is the only defendant who is not a journalist and who  so far hasn’t testified in the trial.

The other defendants are journalists Ömer Çelik, A. Vahap Taş, Çağdaş Kaplan, Selman Çiçek, Hamza Gündüz, İnan Kızılkaya and Kemal Sancılı, who are journalists with DİHA and Özgür Gündem.

Suspect Sancılı, who owns the rights to Özgür Gündem and  who is in Edirne Prison  as part of another trial about the newspaper and his lawyer Result Temur appeared in court via the video-link system SEGBİS. None of the other defendants, who were released pending trial, attended the hearing.

In response to a statement by Sancılı that he is already on trial in similar cases in Istanbul, the Presiding Judge said while his ongoing trials at Istanbul 23rd and 27th Criminal Courts are based on charges of “propaganda for a terrorist organization” and “membership of a terrorist organization,” he is being accused of “turning a counterterrorism official into a target” in this trial.

A request by Sancılı and his lawyers for his acquittal was rejected by the court.