Zehra Özdilek - “Disclose or Publish the Identity of Officials on Anti-Terrorist Duties” Trial

Cumhuriyet reporter Zehra Özdilek made an interview with a teacher who was dismissed by the Decree-Law(KHK) within the scope of the State of Emergency(OHAL) declared in the aftermath of the attempted military coup on July 15, 2016.

The article “Free after 1,5 years” published on May 9, 2019 was an interview made with a teacher who was released from prison after 1,5 years, who had made protests in Istanbul and Ankara and said “I want my job back” after being dismissed.

Following the news, an investigation was launched against Özdilek for “identifying officials on anti-terror duties as targets”. Özdilek was accused of revealing the identity of a secret witness in the article.

On October 7, 2019, a “decision of non prosecution” was given, regarding the investigation.

The indictment against her was prepared 20 days after the non prosecution decision. The indictment was prepared by the prosecutor who had given the decision of non prosecution for the investigation.

The indictment accused Özdilek of “identifying officials on anti-terror duties as targets” according to the article 6/1 of the Anti-Terror Law. She was requested to be sentenced to, from on year to three years of imprisonment. She was also requested to be “bereaved of specific rights” according to the article 53 of the Turkish Penal Code.

Trial of journalist Zehra Özdilek started with the first hearing on February 12, 2020 at Istanbul 27th Assize Court.

Özdilek, in her defence statement said “I make news of violation of rights. Aforementioned article was again about a violation of rights. I do not think that my article is a crime. It must be considered within the scope of the press freedom. Said secret witness was previously subject to many news in different mediums” and requested her acquittal.

Court board ruled to sent the indictment to the prosecution in order to prepare an opinion as to the accusations.

The trial was set to continue with the second hearing on April 14, 2020. However the hearing was postponed to June 5, 2020, due to the measures taken against the “coronavirus” outbreak in Turkey. That hearing too, was postponed due to the measures taken against “coronavirus” pandemic. Next hearing is set to September 24, 2020.



Zehra Özdilek

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