The final hearing of former Managing Editor of Evrensel newspaper Çağrı Sarı, against whom a lawsuit was filed on charge of "insult and libel" for reporting on Paradise Papers, was held at the Bakırköy 2nd Penal Court of First Instance yesterday (March 19).
Announcing her verdict, Presiding Judge Gül Sema Çevik ruled that Çağrı Sarı shall be acquitted of the offense charged "on the ground that the elements of the crime did not arise." Posting a message on Twitter after the verdict was announced, Sarı said, "Ah, I have just been acquitted against Berat Albayrak and Serhat Albayrak."
'We hope that it will prevent harassment of media'
Making a statement regarding the acquittal of Çağrı Sarı, Reporters Without Borders' (RSF) Representative to Turkey Erol Önderoğlu said, "We are pleased that journalist Çağrı Sarı has been acquitted in the case related to her news on Paradise Papers documents. We hope that with a justified ruling that would relieve investigative journalism, it will contribute to the prevention of harassments directed to media."
The fifth hearing in a case where journalist Çağrı Sarı, the former responsible managing editor of the daily Evrensel, is accused of “libel and insult” for the newspaper’s coverage of “Paradise Papers” leaks, was held on 19 February in Istanbul.The case was filed upon a complaint by Minister Berat Albayrak and his brother, Serhat Albayrak.
Sarı and her lawyer Devrim Avcı Özkurt were in attendance during the hearing at the Bakırköy 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance as well as the Albayraks’ lawyer Ferah Yıldız.
Addressing the court for Sarı’s defense statement, lawyer Devrim Avcı said the news articles were an exercising of the right to freedom of the press and freedom of expression. She requested for Sarı’s acquittal.
The plaintiffs’ lawyer claimed that the news stories were aimed at manipulating public opinion and a smear campaign against Serhat Albayrak.
Issuing an interim ruling at the end of the hearing, the court adjourned the trial until 19 March for a review of the written defense statement submitted to the court on behalf of Sarı.
Evrensel cartoonist, editor stand trial for Paradise Papers cartoon