Muş court sentences journalist Sayılğan to 7 years and 15 months in prison

26 January 2019
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Held in detention for over two and a half years, journalist İdris Sayılğan was sentenced to 7 years and 15 months in prison, on “membership in a terrorist organization” charges

Muş - Physically brought to the courtroom for the first time since the inception of his trial, journalist İdris Sayılğan, defended by Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA) Legal Unit, has been in detention for two and a half years, in Trabzon Prison.

Muş court sentenced Sayılğan to 7 years and 15 months in prison without making any reductions in his sentence, on the grounds that Sayılğan had been making accusatory statements throughout his trial against the panel of judges, which couldn’t have been considered as part of his defense statement.

Sayılğan: “I was subjected to torture while waiting for the hearing”

Sayılğan started his defense by stating that he was subjected to torture and a strip-search in Patnos Prison, where he was held waiting for his hearing. Sayılğan noted that the proceedings had been political, not legal and everything he went through was against the Press Law, and the Constitution.

Sayılğan’s lawyers requested the panel of judges to file a criminal complaint regarding the maltreatment of their client. Their request was denied on the grounds that the defense lawyers could file a complaint themselves. MLSA Legal Unit will bring Sayılğan’s case before the appeal court.

MLSA Legal Unit’s Veysel Ok said, “There is no piece of evidence in İdris’s case except for his news reports and his conversations with news sources. His occupational activities were presented as evidence against him and his sentence was based on these evidence. This constitutes a violation of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). This decision of the panel of judges is not only unlawful but also unscrupulous. Our legal fight is not over, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) had granted our application a priority review. Our expectation is that ECtHR will make a decision to protect journalism and freedom of expression.”

ECtHR granted Sayılğan’s application a priority review

The now-shuttered pro-Kurdish Dicle News Agency reporter İdris Sayılğan was arrested on 24 October 2016 and sent to Trabzon Prison, on “membership in a terrorist organization” and “terrorist propaganda” charges. The journalist’s indictment consists of his news reports and tapes of his phone calls with his news sources.

MLSA and London-based free press organization Media Legal Defence Initiative (MLDI) had filed a joint application to the ECtHR on behalf of journalist Sayılğan on 9 October 2018. Noting that the only evidence in Sayılğan’s case file were his news reports and his conversations with his news sources, the application remarked Sayılğan’s right to liberty and security was violated. MLSA’s Legal Unit had requested Sayılğan’s application to be reviewed urgently due to his occupation as a journalist. The Court granted Sayılğan’s application a priority review and requested to be informed on any developments in Sayılğan’s case.