İsmail Cem Şimşek - “Publicy Insulting the Public Official” and “Correction and Not Releasing the Answer” Trial

The news story titled “Albayrak İşçilere Saldırı Programının Sinyalini Verdi” (Albayrak Gave the Signal for a Program of Attack Against Workers”) was published on Evrensel Newspaper and its web site on July 14, 2018.

Minister of Treasury and Finance Berat Albayrak filed a complaint against İsmail Cem Şimşek, the managing editor of Evrensel Newspaper on July 20, 2018. The following was stated in the petition:

“The title of the story is very provocative and dangerous; in a very dangerous game of misperception, the newspaper has made an incorrect statement about economic policy, and presented it as a campaign of violence.…”

Albayrak didn’t just file a complaint about the news story. He also sent a “correction” to the newspaper via court. Bakırköy 1. Criminal Court of Peace accepted Albayrak’s request and a “correction and response” was sent to Evrensel Newspaper for publication. However, Albayrak then filed a second complaint against Şimşek and the newspaper’s manager, and stated in the petition dated September 27, 2018, that the correction was not published by the newspaper in line with the court decision.

In fact, the correction text sent by Albayrak had been published in the newspaper. However, it was titled “Correction” rather than “Our Response to the Fabricated News Story by Evrensel About Mr. Berat Albayrak”.

The indictment against the former managing editor of Evrensel Newspaper İsmail Cem Şimşek and the manager of the company publishing the newspaper was completed on October 30, 2018.

In the indictment, the prosecutor requested that Şimşek be sentenced for “insulting a public officer” pursuant to Articles 125/1 and 125/3-a of the Turkish Penal Code, with a prison term from 1 year to 2 years. The indictment also requested that Şimşek be handed down a heavy judicial fine of 10 to 100 thousand TL pursuant to Article 18 of the Press Law, namely “not publishing a correction or response”.

The trial took four hearings. At the end of the trial, the chair of the panel of judges, sentenced Şimşek to a fine of 41,666 TL for “not publishing a correction as required”. Şimşek was acquitted of the charges that he insulted Berat Albayrak with the news story.

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