Onur Emre Yağan - “Insulting the President in Successive Intervals” Trial

An investigation was launched against journalist Onur Emre Yağan, while he was working as the editor-in-charge of İleri News website, by Tunnel Mazgirt Province Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office.

It was claimed that the investigation against Yağan was launched after a denunciation. The denunciation claimed that “criminal factors were found in Yağan’s social media posts”.

Mazgirt Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office reached a decision of rejection of venue. Case files were sent to Istanbul Anatolian Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office. Press Related Crimes Investigation Bureau of Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s office launched an investigation against Yağan.

Yağan, was, through his social media posts, accused of “publicly insulting the President”.

According to the indictment, Yağan, in the statement he gave during the investigation, stated thatİ He was working as editor-in-chief and columnist at İleri Haber news site, however, the subject matter publications were not made by him. He said posts were made by several people and he did not have a chance to constantly track the posts. He denied the charges.

According to the Turkish Penal Code, in order to open a lawsuit against an individual for the accusation of “insulting the President”, a permission from the Ministry of Justice is required. Necessary ministerial permission to open a case against Yağan was granted on May 29, 2019.

The indictment against journalist Onur Emre Yağan was completed by Istanbul Anatolian Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office on September 4, 2019. President Tayyip Erdoğan was the “complainant” of the indictment.

The indictment accused Yağan for social media posts published from İleri News website, where he worked as the editor-in-chief. 4 tweets, two from 2014 and 2 from 2015, were lined in the indictment as follows:

  • “Cemil Bayık: Erdoğan is ISIS’ khalifa.”
  • “Can Soyer writes: compulsorily dictator.”
  • “Cemil Bayık speaks to Cumhuriyet: Erdoğan is a dictator, Fidan has a hand in it.”
  • “Universities are on alert for words ‘thief’ and ‘murderer’: As soon as they hear it, they know it is Erdoğan.”

The indictment claimed that Yağan’s posts were made “with the intent of defamation of the President”. It was claimed that “posts had crossed the limits of freedoms of thought and expression and turned into insults”.

The indictment accused Yağan of “insulting the President” according to the article 299 of the Turkish Penal Code. He was requested to be sentenced to from one year to four years of imprisonment. However the indictment claimed that he had committed the crime of “insulting the President”, “publicly”. Therefore the requested sentence was requested to be increased by a sixth, according to the second paragraph of the article 299 of the Turkish Penal Code. Yağan was requested to be sentenced to, from one year two months to four years eight months of imprisonment. Again the indictment claimed that he had committed the crime of “publicly insulting the President”, “in a successive manner”. Therefore the requested sentence against Yağan was this time requested to be increased by, from a quarter to three quarters, according to the article 43 of the Turkish Penal Code. Yağan, in total, was requested to be sentenced to, from one year five months 15 days to eight years eight two of imprisonment.

Trial of journalist Onur Emre Yağan was set to start with the first hearing at Istanbul Anatolian 53rd Assize Court on March 26, 2020. However the hearing was postponed, due to the measures taken against the coronavirus pandemic.

Trial will continue with the second hearing on September 10, 2020.



Onur Emre Yağan

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