The fifth hearing in a trial where journalists Alican Uludağ and Duygu Güvenç stand accused of “publicly degrading the judiciary” under Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) took place on 9 January 2020 at Istanbul’s 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance.
The accusation stems from Uludağ and Güvenç’s reports about the developments surrounding US pastor Andrew Brunson, who remained in pre-trial detention in Turkey for two years before being released in October 2018.
P24 monitored the hearing, where both journalists were represented by their lawyers. Granting defense lawyers additional time for their statements, the court adjourned the trial until 16 April 2020.
10 October 2019:
Uludağ and Güvenç are accused on account of their reporting for Cumhuriyet newspaper about the developments surrounding US pastor Andrew Brunson, who remained in detention in Turkey for two years before being released in October 2018.
P24 monitored the hearing, where Duygu Güvenç and her lawyer Abbas Yalçın were in attendance. Güvenç presented her defense statement during the hearing and denied the accusation.
Güvenç’s lawyer told the court that his client faced another criminal case over the same news coverage, overseen by the 2nd High Criminal Court of Izmir, and asked the court to request the case file from the Izmir court. The lawyer also requested a continuance for Güvenç’s defense statement. Accepting Yalçın’s requests, the court adjourned the trial until 9 January 2020.
30 April 2019:
4 April 2019:
7 February 2019:
12 October 2018:
Turkish journalists charged for reports on Brunson case
Friday was a good day for Andrew Brunson, the U.S. pastor allowed by a Turkish court to return to the United States after two years in detention, but was far less positive for critical journalists from secularist daily Cumhuriyet, who have been charged with denigrating the Turkish judiciary for their news stories reporting on the case, Turkish news site Evrensel has reported.
Brunson was arrested in October 2016 for allegedly collaborating with two groups classified as terrorist organisations by Turkey – the Gülen religious movement, which is accused of planning a coup attempt in July 2016, and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a group that has fought Turkish security forces in pursuit of Kurdish self-rule for decades.
Observers of the trial have called into question the evidence against Brunson, much of which they say was based on non-credible sources such as secret documents and anonymous witness statements, and many described the imprisonment of the pastor as a form of “hostage diplomacy” designed to extract concessions from the United States.
Despite encouraging such speculation with a statement seemingly inviting the United States to extradite Gülen movement leader Fethullah Gülen, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has maintained that the prosecution of the U.S. pastor, and the decision to release him on Friday, was conducted entirely by an independent judiciary.
However, Alican Uludağ and Duygu Güvenç, two journalists with Cumhuriyet newspaper, have suggested otherwise in their reports on the trial, and could be set to pay the price for news stories deemed by prosecutors to have denigrated the judiciary.
The stories in question included headlines such as “U.S.-regulated justice,” and “as hostage diplomacy collapses.”
Cumhuriyet’s diplomacy reporter, Duygu Güvenç, argued that the pieces concerned relations between the two countries and justified journalistic criticism, however, the court has ruled that the trial against the two journalists will go ahead, with the first hearing scheduled for December 20.
Brunson was released on Friday after a judge sentenced him to over three years in prison, but ruled that the two years he had already spent in pre-trial detention was sufficient jail time.
Erdoğan maintains that the court has acted independently. However, U.S. officials quoted by NBC News on Thursday said that Brunson would be released thanks to a secret deal struck between the U.S. and Turkish governments. Source
13 June 2016: