23 January 2020:
The third hearing in the trial of journalist Hayri Demir on charges of “membership of a terrorist group” and “terrorism propaganda” took place on 23 January 2020 at the 15th High Criminal Court of Ankara. The court adjourned the trial until 28 April.A report about the hearing, monitored by P24, can be accessed here.
3 December 2019:
Journalists Sibel Hürtaş and Hayri Demir appeared before the 15th High Criminal Court of Ankara on 3 December 2019 for the sixth hearing in a trial where they face up to 10.5 years on the charges of “disseminating propaganda for a terrorist organization” and “inciting the public to hatred and animosity” for sharing their reporting on Turkey’s military operation in Syria’s Afrin on social media.
The prosecution had requested Demir to be tried under Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code in addition to the allegations leveled against him. The court announced that the Ministry of Justice was yet to respond to the application of permission. Both Hürtaş and Demir requested the court to take into consideration the amendments introduced with the judicial reform package. The court rejected the request to lift the judicial control measures and adjourned the trial until 26 March 2020.
23 October 2019:
The second hearing in the trial of journalist Hayri Demir on charges of “spreading propaganda for a terrorist organization” and “terrorist group membership” was held at the Ankara 15th High Criminal Court on 23 October 2019.
Demir faces up to 22.5 years in prison if convicted. Evidence relied on in the case consists of news photography and recordings obtained from a memory card that was stolen from Demir’s house in 2017.
Demir rejected the accusations against him, saying there was no evidence in the case file other than outputs of his journalistic activities. The court ruled to ask the prosecution to look into the result of an investigation into the 2017 robbery at Demir’s house and adjourned the trial until 23 January 2020.
18 October 2019:
Journalist Demir's Photo with Demirtaş Cited as Crime Evidence: 'This is Clearly a Plot'
Journalist Hayri Demir's interview and photograph with Selahattin Demirtaş, the former co-chair of the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), were cited as evidence in the case he is being tried for "being a member of a terrorist organization" and "propagandizing for a terrorist organization.
Speaking to bianet before the hearing that will be held on October 23 at Ankara 15th Heavy Penal Court, Demir said that the investigation minute prepared by Bolu Security Directorate was added to the case file.
He said that he interviewed Demirtaş on October 1, 2015, and the photos, the text and his social media posts on the interview are cited as evidence.
"Stolen memory cards were delivered to the police"
"Thieves broke into my house in Ankara on February 28, 2017. The person or people who broke into the house just took the two memory cards of the camera in the drawer, rather than taking the money box which was full of money. I notified the police. Police officers came, searched for fingerprints and took minutes.
"The stolen memory cards were delivered to the police afterward. In contradicting minutes, it is stated that the memory cards were brought to provincial and district security directorates.
"An indictment was prepared against me over the photos in the memory cards. The news reports, footage and photos in the stolen memory cards were cited as evidence for charges. News material on the card was made the subject of allegations. It was requested that I shall be sentenced to from nine years to 22.5 years in prison."
"Security Directorate put everything about my journalistic activities in an investigation minute"
"The first hearing of the case was held last September. Before the second hearing which will be held on October 23, Bolu Security Directorate put everything about my journalistic activities in an investigation minute. My news report on Selahattin Demirtaş is also in it.
"It is said, 'The person who is a DİHA reported and is arrested now shared a photograph of the interview he made with the person called Selahattin Demirtaş,' in the minute prepared by Bolu Security Directorate."
"Is it a crime to interview a political party's chairperson?"
"An interview I made with a chairperson of the party which received six million votes was made the subject of allegations. We understand from the investigation that journalism can be considered a crime by both the judiciary and the government.
"If you are a dissident, it is not possible to escape from allegations. This example shows the situation of the freedom of the press in Turkey."
"It is clear this case is a plot. There are 180 countries in the world and Turkey ranks 157th. It deteriorates day by day." (HA/VK)
News footage found in memory cards that were stolen from Demir’s house in 2017 are held as evidence against Demir in the case, overseen by the 15th High Criminal Court of Ankara. Demir faces up to 22.5 years in prison if convicted.
Demir told the court during the hearing that he could not prepare his defense statement because he did not receive notification of the indictment against him prior to the court date. The court granted Demir additional time to prepare his defense statement and adjourned the trial until 23 October 2019.
Trial of journalists Sibel Hürtaş and Hayri Demir adjourned until December
A trial where journalists Sibel Hürtaş and Hayri Demir are among 11 defendants charged with “inciting hatred and animosity” and “disseminating terrorism propaganda” over their social media posts about Turkey’s military operation on Syria’s Afrin resumed on 3 July 2019 in Ankara.
P24 monitored the hearing, where both Hürtaş and Demir were in attendance as well as defense lawyers.
The presiding judge of the Ankara 15th High Criminal Court told those in attendance that the Justice Ministry had yet to respond to the prosecution’s request for the proceedings to continue under Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) — “insulting the government of the Republic of Turkey, the judicial bodies of the state, the military or security organizations.”
Hürtaş’s lawyer Nuray Özdoğan then addressed the court. “My client is a press member and her international travel ban has turned into a punishment,” Özdoğan said. The lawyer also asked the court to lift the judicial control measures imposed on all 11 defendants.
Alişan Şahin, another defense lawyer, requested the court to file an application with the Constitutional Court for the annulment of TCK Article 301 on the grounds that the provision is against the principle of equality and the right to freedom of expression.
Announcing its interim ruling at the end of the hearing, the court rejected the requests to file for the annulment of TCK Article 301 and to lift the judicial control measures imposed on the defendants. The court set 3 December 2019 as the date for the next hearing.
6 September 2018:
Artı TV Ankara bureau chief Sibel Hürtaş and Mezopotamya news agency (MA) reporter Hayri Demir are facing “inciting the public to hatred and animosity” and “propaganda” charges in a new indictment against the journalists.
The indictment, issued by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, seeks up to 10.5 years imprisonment for each: up to 3 years on the charge of “inciting the public to hatred and animosity” and additionally up to 7.5 years on “conducting propaganda for a terrorist organization through publication.”
The charges stem from the journalists’ news reports and social media posts concerning Turkey’s military operation on Syria’s Afrin.
Excerpts from remarks made by the politicians Osman Baydemir and Ahmet Faruk Ünsal during interviews they gave to Hürtaş are held as evidence against the journalist.
Both Hürtaş and Demir were taken into custody in late January on account of their social media posts and released four days later under judicial control measures.*
15 May 2018 - 2 journalists face lengthy jail sentences due to criticism of Afrin operation
An indictment drafted by Turkish prosecutors seeks 10 and a half years for two journalists, Artı TV Ankara representative Sibel Hürtaş and Mezopotamya news agency reporter Hayri Demir, due to their social media messages about a Turkish military operation in Syria’s Afrin region, the Diken news website reported on Tuesday.
On Jan. 22, Turkish police detained dozens of people including local politicians and journalists due to their criticism of the Afrin operation, which was launched jointly by the Turkish military and Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters on Jan. 20 against the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), which Turkey sees as the Syrian extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Hürtaş and Demir were among the detainees but were later released on judicial probation.
The Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office has drafted an indictment for the two journalists in which it seeks a total of 10 years, six months in prison based on the 216th article of the Turkish Penal Code, which concerns inciting the public to hatred and enmity, and Article 7 of the Turkish Anti-Terror Law, which concerns disseminating the propaganda of a terrorist organization through the media.
Remarks made by Hürtaş during an interview with former Justice and Development Party (AKP) deputy Ahmet Faruk Ünsal in which she said, “We should ask why Turkey was disturbed by Afrin when it was a secure and safe place,” made their way to the indictment as evidence of a criminal act.
Hürtaş, whose trial is set to begin soon, said the prosecutor’s move is a serious blow to freedom of the press and expression.
“I will continue to perform my job as a journalist within the framework of media ethics,” the journalist said.
The Turkish government and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan have reacted strongly to people who oppose the operation, and prosecutor’s offices have initiated investigations into those who share social media messages critical of the operation. Source