Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office launched an investigation against journalist Sabiha Temizkan for her social media posts.
Temizkan, within the scope of the investigation, was summoned to give statement. On February 13, 2020, she went to the police precinct and gave her defence. During the statement, Temizkan was asked of her Twitter and Facebook posts.
The indictment against journalist Sabiha Temizkan was prepared by Press Related Crimes Bureau of Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, on March 5, 2020.
The indictment claimed that the post was “made in order to introduce, adopt or share a thought, opinion and belief of HPG armed terrorist organisation”. It was claimed that “post aimed to legitimise, promote and encourage the, armed terrorist organisation’s acts of force, violence and menace”.
The indictment accused Temizkan of “making propaganda for a terrorist organisation through press” according to the article 7/2 of the Anti-Terror Law. She was requested to be sentenced to, from one year six months to seven years six months of imprisonment.
The indictment was accepted by Istanbul 35th Assize Court.
Journalist Sabiha Temizkan’s trial started with the first hearing at Istanbul 35th Assize Court on June 25, 2020.
Temizkan was not present at the first hearing due to health problems. Temizkan’s excuse was accepted.
The second hearing of the trial took place on September 22nd, 2020. A member of the court committee had changed. Temizkan stated the following about the social media post in question:
“6 years have passed. So I could hardly remember the post. However, it does belong to me. I wrote the title of the news story but forgot to place a link. Yet, I don’t think it constitutes terror propaganda.”
Temizkan demanded her acquittal and stated that she would not accept the deferment of the announcement of a possible prison sentence. Temizkan said, “I did not commit a crime”.
Temizkan’s lawyer Veysel Ok said, “The post is in capital letters, which suggests that it was meant to be the link to a news story. Such posts are usually written in capital letters on Twitter.”
At this hearing, the prosecutor presented his judicial opinion as to the accusations.
In the judicial opinion, Temizkan was charged with “spreading propaganda for a terror organization” with a social media post of hers, as per Article 7/2 of Anti-Terror Law. The prosecutor requested 1 to 5 years in prison for her. In the judicial opinion - as was the case with the indictment - the prosecutor claimed that the crime was committed “via the media”, and requested that the sentence be increased by half as per the second clause of the said article. As a result, Temizkan faces one year, six months to seven years, six months in prison.
Both Temizkan and her lawyer Veysel Ok asked for additional time to draft a defense against the judicial opinion.
The court accepted their request.
The fourth hearing was held on October 22nd, 2020. The panel of judges had not changed. Journalist Sabiha Temizkan attended the hearing with her lawyer Veysel Ok. The hearing prosecutor reiterated his judicial opinion.
Temizkan delivered a defense against the judicial opinion as to the accusations: “I shared a news story on social media. At the time I worked for IMC TV. I cannot understand why a lawsuit was filed against my social media post. There is just one sentence, which is a quote. I do not think that this post constitutes a criminal offense.”
Later on Veysel Ok took the floor and said that they did not accept the judicial opinion: “Journalists can report on the opinions of conflicting parties. In the news report, my client makes no comments. I think we all agree that this is a journalistic effort.”
The court sentenced Temizkan to one year in prison for “spreading propaganda for a terror organization” as per Anti-Terror Law 7/2; however, her sentence was increased by half as the offense was “committed via the media”. Temizkan was thus sentenced to one year, six months in prison. In consideration of “possible effects on the defendant’s future,” the prison sentence was reduced by one sixth as per Turkish Penal Code, Article 62. The court also ruled to deprive Temizkan of certain rights as per Article 53 of the same code.
As a result, Temizkan was sentenced to one year, three months in prison for “spreading propaganda for a terror organization via the media”. The court did not defer the sentence as “she did not show remorse” and “we do not have the impression that she would not commit another crime”.
The verdict was reached by majority vote. One judge opposed the verdict, stating that Temizkan should be acquitted. The verdict is being reviewed by a court of appeal.
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