Etkin News Agency (ETHA) reporter Pınar Gayıp was arrested at around 2 a.m. on 13 April 2018 during an early morning police raid on her home in Istanbul.
Gayıp was placed in pre-trial detention by a court alongside ETHA editor Semiha Şahin, Ferhat Harun Pehlivan, a former intern for ETHA and a member of the Federation of Socialist Youth Associations (SGDF), and Gülsen İmre. After waiting for 10 hours for a judgeship to take their statements, a prosecutor referred the defendants to a Criminal Judgeship of Peace, requesting their detention on the charges of “membership in a terrorist group” and “conducting propaganda for a terrorist group.”
Pınar Gayıp appeared before the 23rd High Criminal Court of Istanbul for her first courtroom hearing along with the three other defendants in the case on 10 September 2018 after spending five months in pre-trial detention.
Gayıp addressed the court for her defense statement during the hearing and said the police didn’t call her to testify before arresting her. “I have lived in the same house since I came to Istanbul, worked at the same agency and came to the courthouse to follow trials almost every day,” she said. “I have never been called to testify even once. Instead, my house was raided at dawn by police wearing balaclavas and holding long barrelled weapons,” Gayıp said. “I’m sure that I will be acquitted if the court abides by the law,” Gayıp told the court, demanding her release.
The lawyers representing Gayıp and Şahin criticized that rallies or commemorations both journalists attended 3 or 4 years ago as journalists were presented as evidence in the case.
Gayıp’s lawyer Kader Tonç said documents certifying that ETHA is a legal news agency and her client was legally working for them had been submitted to the court. “Could you imagine a terrorist organization having official documents attesting that a certain person is their employee?” Tonç asked the court.
Following the completion of defense statements, the prosecutor demanded the continuation of the detention of all four defendants including Gayıp, arguing that there were “elements missing” in the case. Following a short break, the court ruled that all four defendants should remain in detention pending trial, setting 5 December 2018 as the date for the next hearing.
Journalists were asked to leave the courtroom during the panel’s deliberation of the demands and were not allowed in the courtroom following the recess. as a result, the journalists could not observe the announcement of the court’s decision. Journalists who followed the hearing protested the presiding judge’s attitude, saying this was a “lack of transparency.”
On 5 December 2018, the second hearing of Gayıp’s trial was held at the 23rd High Criminal Court of Istanbul.
Addressing the court for her defense statement, Gayıp rejected the accusations and said that this case was an attempt at criminalizing journalism.
Gayıp’s lawyer Tonç told the court that the grounds for the accusations against Gayıp were only six social media posts shared by the journalist, and that all of them were dispatches by ETHA. The lawyer said that her client’s pretrial detention on account of news posts that are held as evidence for the “membership in a terrorist organization” charge was unlawful and requested Gayıp’s release.
The prosecution then requested that all jailed defendants in the case be remanded in detention.
In its interim ruling following a brief recess, the court released Gayıp’s co-defendants Pehlivan and İmre under judicial control measures while keeping Gayıp and Şahin behind bars. The court also ruled to hand over the case file to the prosecutor for the drafting of the final opinion and adjourned the trial until 30 January 2019.
The third hearing of Gayıp’s trial was held on 30 January 2019 at the 23rd High Criminal Court of Istanbul.
Early in the hearing, the prosecution submitted their final opinion of the case, seeking prison terms for both Gayıp and Şahin on the charges of “membership in a terrorist group” and “disseminating propaganda for a terrorist group.” The prosecution also demanded that both journalists be remanded in prison.
Gayıp told the court that her social media posts and her news coverage were held as evidence against her and that journalism was being put on trial in this court case. Gayıp requested to be released pending trial.
In its interim ruling at the end of the hearing, the court ruled to keep Gayıp and Şahin behind bars and adjourned the trial until 27 March 2019 for the final defense statements in response to the prosecution’s final opinion to be prepared.
Gayıp appeared before the 23rd High Criminal Court of Istanbul on 27 March for the fourth hearing of her trial on terrorism-related charges.
Gayıp’s lawyer Tonç requested further inquiry as to when the investigation into the journalists was launched. The lawyer requested that the court inquire of law enforcement officials and the prosecutor about how and why social media posts from highly varied time frames by the two journalists were brought together in the same investigation file as evidence.
Tonç also added that they suspected that the social media posts held as evidence against the journalists were not obtained through an open source search, in which case evidence would be obtained illegally. Tonç added that no new incriminating evidence was added to Gayıp’s case file throughout the time she has been in pre-trial detention and requested her client’s release pending trial.
Gayıp also addressed the court and requested to be released.
The prosecution said they reiterated their final opinion of the case, submitted to the court during the previous hearing, and requested the continuation of both journalists’ detention.
In its interim ruling, the court ruled in line with the prosecutor’s requests and ordered the continuation of Gayıp and Şahin’s detention on remand, as well as rejecting the lawyers’ requests to expand the investigation. The trial was adjourned until 13 June 2019.
The fifth hearing in the trial took place on 13 June 2019. The 23rd High Criminal Court of Istanbul ruled at the end of the hearing to release both Gayıp and Şahin under house arrest after 14 months in detention on remand.
Gayıp was released from the Bakırköy Women’s Prison later on 13 June.
The seventh hearing in the trial of four defendants including Etkin news agency (ETHA) editor Semiha Şahin and reporter Pınar Gayıp on terrorism-related charges took place on 11 December 2019 at the 23rd High Criminal Court of Istanbul. Issuing an interim decision at the end of the hearing, the court lifted Şahin and Gayıp’s house arrest but imposed international travel bans on both journalists and adjourned the trial until 27 February 2020.
15 October 2019:
The trial of Etkin news agency (ETHA) staff members Semiha Şahin and Pınar Gayıp on terrorism-related charges resumed on 15 October 2019 at the 23rd High Criminal Court of Istanbul.
P24 monitored the hearing, where none of the four defendants were in attendance. The defendants were represented by their lawyers. The prosecution requested the continuation of the judicial control measures imposed on the defendants. Lawyers representing Şahin and Gayıp requested the court to lift their clients’ house arrest or to impose a different judicial control measure on their clients other than house arrest. At the end of the previous hearing, the court had released Şahin and Gayıp from prison but placed both under house arrest.
After hearing the defense lawyers, the court issued an interim ruling, ordering the continuation of the judicial control measures and adjourned the trial until 11 December 2019.
2 Turkish journalists moved from prison to house arrest
Editor Semiha Şahin and reporter Pınar Gayıp from the Etkin News Agency (ETHA) have been released from prison into house arrest, the Bianet news website reported on Thursday.
The two Turkish journalists are standing trial on terrorism-related charges arising from their reports. They have been held behind bars for 14 months. The court ruled to release them into house arrest on the grounds that there was no more evidence to be tampered with.
First detained in April 2018, the journalists are charged with membership in terrorist groups as well as spreading propaganda on behalf of terrorist groups. ETHA is mentioned in the indictment as pursuing an editorial policy “in line with terrorist ideology.”
27 March 2019:
Semiha Şahin, Pınar Gayıp remain behind bars in 4th hearing
Jailed Etkin news agency (ETHA) journalists Semiha Şahin and Pınar Gayıp appeared before the 23rd High Criminal Court of Istanbul on 27 March for the fourth hearing of their trial on terrorism-related charges.
A judge in Istanbul has ruled that two Turkish journalists at the left-wing Etkin News Agency must remain in prison, where they have been held pending trial on terror charges since April.
Editor Semiha Şahin and reporter Pınar Gayıp were detained during early morning raids on April 13, and both have been charged with membership of an illegal organisation. Şahin has also been charged with making propaganda for an illegal organisation.
The judge at Istanbul’s 23rd Heavy Penal Court ruled that the pair posed a flight risk and denied their release on Wednesday, during the second hearing in their trial. The next hearing is scheduled for January 30, 2019.......... ................"We have been arrested for eight months. We are under arrest due to the news that we made and our political attitude,” Turkish news portal Bianet quoted Şahin as saying at the hearing.
“We are under arrest because of our social media posts. We are under arrest due to our profession. Journalism is not a crime. I request my release because we did our jobs and because we have been deprived of our freedom,” she added.
Referring to the indictment against the journalists, Özcan Karakoç, one of the lawyers representing the journalists, complained that prosecutors had taken incidents from as far back as 2014, a camera, and even his clients’ decision to use their right to remain silent after being arrested as evidence against them.
12 September 2018:
ETHA journalists to remain in jail after first hearing
ETHA editor Semiha Şahin and reporter Pınar Gayıp appear before court for the first time after five months of detention
Two journalists for Etkin News Agency (ETHA), editor Semiha Şahin and reporter Pınar Gayıp, appeared for the first time before court on 10 September after five months in pre-trial detention.
The 23rd High Criminal Court of Istanbul, which oversees the case, ruled to continue the detention of both journalists and two other defendants, Ferhat Harun Pehlivan and Gülsen İmre. The court postponed the trial and scheduled 5 December 2018 as the date of the next hearing.
Şahin and Gayıp were detained on charges “membership in a terrorist organization” and “conducting propaganda for a terrorist organization” while the two other defendants of the case, Pehlivan, who has interned for ETHA, and İmre face the sole charge of “terror propaganda. The trial was monitored by P24, English PEN and several news organizations.
Şahin: This is a political trial
ETHA editor Şahin said they were facing charges of membership in a terrorist organization for working for ETHA. “Freedom of information is a universal norm,” she said. “But (the indictment) considers ETHA as an illegal organization, the agency’s workers are criminalized and its news reports presented as evidence of a crime. This is why I would argue that this is not a legal, but a political trial.”
Durin her defense statements, Şahin also noted ETHA’s report on their detention was used as evidence. “During our detention in police custody we engaged in a hunger strike to protest the house raid arrest carried out by police officers, including special operation forces. This was also used as an evidence against us in the indictment,” she said. Evidence against her included 3-4 social media posts that she said had been picked out of her more than 7,000 tweets. “We are considered as usual suspects and arrested when it’s opportune. How can there be a fair trial with such approach?” she asked.
For her part, Pınar Gayıp said she wasn’t called to testify by the police before being arrested. “I have lived in the same house since I came to Istanbul, worked at the same agency and came to the courthouse to follow trials almost every day,” she said. “I have never been called to testify even once. Instead, my house was raided at dawn by police wearing balaclavas and holding long barrelled weapons.” Following their arrest by police, they were sent to pre-trial detention without testifying to the prosecutor despite remaining seven days in custody, Gayıp said. “I’m sure that I will be acquitted if the court abides by the law,” Gayıp told the court, demanding her release.
Lawyers speaking at the hearing criticized that rallies or commemorations both journalists attended 3 or 4 years ago were presented as evidence in the case. “If my client committed a crime by attending those demonstrations 3-4 years ago, why didn’t the police department report it to the prosecution then? How come these demonstrations can be presented as an evidence 3-4 years later when there had been no warnings, no police dispersal and no arrest?” Semiha Şahin’s lawyer Özcan Karakoç asked.
Pınar Gayıp’s lawyer Kader Tonç said documents certifying that ETHA is a legal agency and her client was legally working for them had been submitted to the court. “Could you imagine a terrorist organization having official documents attesting that a certain person is their employee?” she told the court.
Following the defense, the prosecutor demanded the continuation of the detention of all four defendants in the case arguing that there were “elements missing” in the case. Following a short break, the court ruled that all four defendants should remain in detention pending trial, setting 5 December 2018 as the date of the next hearing.
Meanwhile, journalists who were asked to leave the courtroom as during the deliberation of the demands of release, could not observe the announcement of the court’s decision over the head judge’s demand. Journalists who followed the hearing protested the head judge’s attitude, considering it a “lack of transparency”. Source
A Turkish court on Thursday ruled for the arrest of four journalists affiliated with the Etkin News Agency (ETHA).
The arrestees — Semiha Şahin, Pınar Gayıp, Ferhat Harun Pehlivan, Gülsen İmre — are accused of “membership in a terrorist organization” and “spreading propaganda on behalf of a terrorist organization.”
Turkey is the biggest jailer of journalists in the world, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) . There are currently a total of 235 journalists are under arrest pending trial, while 24 have been convicted.
Three journalists from Etkin News Agency (ETHA) have been detained. Police haven’t explained the reason for the detentions, ETHA reported.
It was stated that ETHA editor Semiha Şahin and its reporter Pınar Gayip were detained from their homes in İstanbul last evening (April 12).
Another ETHA reporter Adil Demirci, who live in Germany and came to İstanbul for vacation, was also detained in the same way. (BK/TK)
Two reporters and one editor are held in detention
ETHA, whose website is blocked since July 27, 2015, continues to publish its news on Facebook. ETHA editor İsminaz Temel and its reporter Havva Cuştan were arrested on October 25 and reporter Ali Sönmez Kayar on February 6. (BK/TK)
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