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.
3 July 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.
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
15 January 2018: