Elif Çetiner, İstanbul – An İstanbul court ruled to keep Pınar Gayip and Semiha Şahin, two journalists facing terrorism charges, in detention until their next hearing on January 30. The two have already been in detention for eight months.
Gayip and Şahin work for socialist news outlet Etkin News Agency as a reporter and editor respectively. The two have been accused of distributing terrorist propaganda and membership in a terrorist organization – accusations which appear to revolve around articles they have published and social media posts they have made.
Şahin was the first to present a defense statement at the hearing , and noted that "We have been in detention for eight months. We are jailed because of our profession, our social media posts, and our political stance." Gayip reaffirmed this sentiment, alleging that the court was treating professional journalism as a criminal act.
The prosecution requested their continued detention on the grounds that the two might tamper with evidence if they were released. Kader Tonç, a lawyer for the defense, ridiculed this allegation and noted that much of the evidence is from four years ago. "All of the documents in the case file are very old. Even their existence in the case file is unlawful. The detention of my clients has turned into a punishment."
Özcan Karakoç, another defense lawyer, then rose to critique the indictment’s apparent inference that there is some cause of suspicion because the defendants used their right to remain silent upon being arrested. "The prosecutor had requested their detention, without seeing the clients. Their usage of their right to remain silent, is considered a crime. The evidence dates back to 2014, then why did the police department wait for four years?”
The panel of judges sided with the prosecution and ruled to keep Gayip and Şahin detained, then adjourned the hearing until January 30 2019.
Updated: December 6 2018