First Hearing of Journalists after 13 Months of Pre-Trial Detention

Six employees of the Yürüyü? magazine will appear at court for the first time on 20 January after 13 months of detention. Entrance to their offices was forced in a raid in December 2010 when also helicopter had been used.
Ayça SÖYLEMEZ ayca@bianet.org
Istanbul – Ankara – B?A News Center

Six employees of the Yürüyü? (“Marching”) magazine will appear before the Ankara 11th High Criminal Court for their first hearing after 13 months of pre-trial detention. They invite everybody to come and support press freedom.
Journalist Naciye Yavuz wrote on page two of the Prisoners Gazette, “We, the employees of the Yürüyü? magazine, will go to court for the first time after 13 months in detention. We will be at court for the first time after having been detained in our cells for 13 months without any investigation, enquiry, evidence of proof”.
“We invite all friends and supporters of justice and rights to our hearing on 20 January at the Ankara 11th High Criminal Court”.

Yürüyü? employees Cihan Gün, Musa Kurt and Halit Güdeno?lu also made a contribution to the Prisoners Gazette. Furthermore, Kaan Ünsal and Necla Can were arrested after the crackdown on the magazine.

No compensation for demolished office

The six journalists were taken into police custody on 24 December 2010 in the course of a raid on the office of the magazine. The office door was broken and about 2,000 books were seized during the crackdown.

The raid started at 4.00 am in the morning and was supported by helicopters. The office was demolished, interior doors and furniture was broken.

The compensation file regarding the material damage was dismissed reasoning that there was “no grounds for legal action”. According to the decision signed by ?i?li (Istanbul) Public Prosecutor Sait Kunt, the office’s door was broken “in order to prevent the destruction of material evidence”.

“Attack on press freedom”

Lawyer Evrim Deniz Karatana stated that seized books, CDs and writings and photographs taken from computers and already used in the previous issue of the magazine had not been returned.

“The Special Authority Prosecution based the search decision on the arrest of a person searched in the scope of an investigation. However, the searched person was not the owner, editor-in-chief or an employee of the magazine and did not have any legal or de facto connections to the magazine”, Karatana explained.

The lawyer said that even video footage taken at panel discussions was accounted for as “evidence”. The six journalists were allegedly beaten when they were taken into police custody but the according criminal complaint remained without result, Karatana noted.

The indictment was prepared by Prosecutor Kulibay Ta?tan and accepted by Judge Dündar Örsdemir. It alleges the six journalists of “membership of an illegal organization” according to Article 5 of the Anti-Terror Law (TMK).

The journalists applied to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) due to the long period of pre-trial detention and the decision of confidentiality on the file that was only lifted after 10 months. The application is still pending.

The Yürüyü? employees did not exactlyknow the charges pressed against them for 13 months. They have been detained at the Sincan F Type Prison.

Lawyer Karatana considers the raid, his clients’ pre-trial detention of 13 months and the judiciary process as an “attack on press freedom and the right to information”.

The magazine recently made the headlines again when it was suspended from publication due to its 18 December 2011 issue. The Istanbul 14th High Criminal Court decreed for a one-month publication ban on the grounds of alleged “propaganda for a terrorist organization” in the 299th issue of the magazine. The issue was seized.


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