An investigation was initiated against journalist Rojhat Doğru on allegations of “membership of a terrorist organization” by Diyarbakır Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office.
Doğru was investigated for following the “Kobane protests” organized in Diyarbakır in October 2014 for journalistic purposes. After the ISIS assault on the city of Kobane, in northern Syria, protests had taken place in Diyarbakır and neighboring towns, and dozens of people had lost their lives in the clashes. Massive demonstrations were held in the Bağlar district of Diyarbakır on October 6-9. Right after these demos, Doğru’s photos were published by media outlets close to Hizbullah and he was targeted. It was claimed that Doğru carried a gun, although it was seen in the photos that he was holding a camera. In this context, an investigation was launched against Doğru upon a complaint by R.Ö. who was wounded during the protests.
Doğru was detained on December 5, 2018 in Istanbul as part of the investigation. On the same day, he gave his statement over the judiciary videoconferencing system SEGBİS. Following his statement, the Diyarbakır 5. Criminal Court of Peace issued an arrest warrant against him on charges of “membership of a terrorist organization”.
After the arrest warrant, he was taken to Silivri High Security Closed Prison.
The indictment about Doğru was drafted and submitted to court by prosecutor on June 21, 2018. In the three-page indictment, Doğru was accused of “attempting to destroy the unity of the state and the integrity of the country” and “attempting premeditated murder”. R.Ö. figured as complainant in the indictment. In addition to complainant R.Ö.’s statements and open source examination reports, the social media posts of Doğru were also presented as evidence in the indictment.
The indictment was accepted by Diyarbakır 8. High Criminal Court. The first hearing of the case was scheduled for January 10.
Journalist Doğru was not brought to the courtroom. Instead, he was connected to the courtroom from Silivri High Security Closed Prison over SEGBİS. His lawyer Resul Tamur represented Doğru.
Doğru presented his defense over SEGBİS, and said the following: “I got acquainted with the complainant when he interviewed me in 2015. I had no other contact with him. The television he did the interview for supports the political party HÜDA-PAR. He works at İlke News Agency. I received an award in 2015 for the footage I shot. After I received the award, he started accusing me. After that I filed a criminal complaint against him. I also filed a criminal complaint against those who made the news storied that targeted me.
“I did not shoot at any person in any way, this is slander. As you can see in the photos, I was not among the crowd, I was not there to join the protest. I’m not among the ranks of those chanting slogans. I took the other photos mentioned in the indictment in Sulaymaniyah. The head office of the television I work for is there. It is a region close to Qandil. This is an area where the populace come for picnic, and since there began peace negotiations, there was no war. I went there for news coverage. I took the photo and I shared it on social media. Later on, HÜDA-PAR members shared these photos on social media and targeted me.
“I was there in my capacity as a journalist. I got an award for the footage I shot there. Even the Diyarbakır Chief of Police was present at that award ceremony. I was there because I was a journalist. The person who filed a complaint against me claims to have identified me, and they take the photos from my social media account. I’m a journalist, and I demand my acquittal”
The journalists that Doğru worked with were also heard as witnesses at the hearing. The next hearing was scheduled for February 26, 2019. Doğru was not brought to the second hearing either. He participated over SEGBİS, from the prison where he was detained.
During this short hearing, the court ordered the release of Doğru considering that the evidence was gathered to a large extent and the possibility of a change in the criminal offense attributed to him. Doğru was released on condition of judicial control, with a ban on going abroad.
The trial was adjourned until May 30, 2019. The complainant R.Ö. did not attend the first two hearings of the case.
Neither did he participate in the third hearing. At this hearing, an individual named D.G. was heard as witness since Doğru had his phone number. D.G., who was detained in Diyarbakır D-Type Closed Prison for a separate offense, stated that he did not know Doğru.
At the end of the hearing, the court issued an arrest warrant in absentia for the complainant R.Ö. to be brought to the next hearing, and adjourned the trial.
The next hearing was scheduled for October 15, 2019 at 11:20 a.m. At this hearing, the court ordered the discontinuation of the judicial control for Doğru. The court adjourned the trial until January 14, 2020.