26 March 2019:
The fourth hearing in a trial where journalist İshak Karakaş, the editor-in-chief of the newspaper Halkın Nabzı,and nine other defendants stand accused of “propaganda” on account of their social media posts, took place on 17 January at the 28th High Criminal Court of Istanbul.
P24 monitored the hearing, where the defendants and their lawyers responded to the accusations in the prosecutor’s final opinion of the case, which was submitted to the court in between hearings, and requested continuance for the final defense statements. The prosecution’s final opinion requests that Karakaş be convicted of “successively disseminating propaganda for a terrorist group.”
Addressing the court during the hearing, Karakaş made explanations concerning his social media posts cited in the prosecution’s final opinion. Karakaş requested to be acquitted as he wrapped up his statement.
In its interim ruling at the end of the hearing, the court ruled to lift the international travel ban imposed on all defendants in the case because all defense statements have been heard. The court also lifted other judicial control measures imposed on the defendants and set 26 March 2019 as the date for the next hearing.
İshak Karakaş, the editor of the newspaper Halkın Nabzı and a columnist for the exile news website Artı Gerçek, was arrested in late January and was not released until the start of May, when his trial on a charge of “PKK propaganda” got under way. RSF attended the initial hearing, at which he pleaded innocent and insisted that he served the cause of peace.
“The content that I shared online consisted of articles and comments that do not represent any political party and do not consist of terrorist propaganda,” Karakaş testified. His trial will resume on 18 September and he continues to face a possible prison sentence if found guilty.
“The persecution of journalism is diverting the justice system from the legitimate task of combatting terrorism,” RSF Turkey representative Erol Önderoğlu said. “A complete overhaul of the terrorism law and a return to the rule of law would be of much greater help in combatting the real threats that Turkey faces. We call for the withdrawal of all charges against journalists and bloggers who are being prosecuted just for doing their job.”*