Didim Özgür Ses Newspaper and Mavi Didim Newspaper published a press release dated January 21, 2018 by the Didim District Organisation of the political party EMEP, which criticized the Turkish Armed Forces operation into the Syrian city of Afrin.
Didim Police Department conducted an examination and reached the conclusion that Mavi Didim and Özgür Ses newspapers’ publication on January 24, 2018 of EMEP Didim District Organization’s press release titled “Halt to the Afrin operation: Stop bombing the fraternity among peoples in Afrin and dragging Turkey into a possible regional war” could involve elements of crime.
As a result, an investigation was launched against Didim Özgür Ses newspaper’s owner Mustafa Öge, Mavi Didim Gazetesi newspaper’s owner Ergün Korkmaz, journalist Erdem Özden as well as the president of EMEP Didim District Organization on the grounds of the press release criticizing the Turkish army’s Afrin operation as published in the two newspapers on January 24, 2018.
The prosecutor stated that the press release published by the said newspapers spread black propaganda by criticizing the Turkish military operation into Afrin.
The indictment drafted by Didim Public Prosecutor at the end of the investigation was completed on February 13, 2018 and accepted by the 1. Criminal Court of First Instance. A lawsuit was duly filed.
Although he referred to the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights on freedom of expression in his indictment, the prosecutor stated that all the defendants “incited the populace to hatred and enmity” as per Turkish Penal Code, Article 216/1
The first hearing was held on June 22, 2018, and the defendants presented their defense. Stating that they had no criminal intent, the journalists demanded their acquittal arguing that they publish the statements not only of EMEP but of all political parties. The defense lawyers stated that the publication of the press release in question represented no crime as alleged by the prosecutor, and that it was a part of journalistic activities designed to inform the public at large. Defense lawyer Ali İhsan Aktimur underlined that the news coverage about the said press release fell within the scope of the freedom of press.
All of the defendants were acquitted at the final hearing on April 9, 2019.