Durket Süren - “Establishing Organisations for the Purpose of Committing Crimes” and “Propaganda of Terrorist Organization” Trial

Journalist Durket Süren, on March 1, 2018, while she was a reporter at Jin News Women’s News Agency, was taken into custody at the gendarmerie check point at the entrance of Lice Province of Diyarbakır. It was claimed that “there was a search warrant against her”. After her medical checks at Lice State Hospital, she was sent to Lice Police Precinct. Following the paperwork process, she was taken to the Diyarbakır Police Station.

Her detainment process took four days. On March 5, 2018, she was sent to the court. She was accused of “membership of terrorist organisation” and “making propaganda for a terrorist organisation”.

According to the indictment, Süren, in the defence statement she gave during the investigation said, she was working at Jin News Women’s News Agency and that whether there was a Recall Order regarding the subject matter newspapers. She also stated that she was a member of the Independent Journalists’ Association, which was shut down by State of Emergency Decree-Law.

After the interrogation at the prosecutor’s office, she was sent to the court with a request for her release with judicial control condition.

Criminal Court of Peace imposed a ban on leaving the country against her and released her to pend trial.

The indictment against her was completed on February 12, 2019.

According to the indictment, Süren’s phone was tapped by a court order. The indictment included the recordings of Süren’s four different phone calls. According to that, it was seen that two of these phone calls were about the Süren’s job as the distributor of Azadiya Welat and Özgürlükçü Demokrasi newspapers.

Other two phone call recordings that were included in the indictment appeared to be about inviting legal expert women to the TV show called “Kadın Bakışı” that Süren hosted with an association.

The indictment accused Süren of “taking part in the hierarchical structure of the PKK/KCK terrorist organisation and following instructions and orders of the organisation”.

On the other hand, the indictment lined 14 posts Süren shared on her personal twitter account between 2014 and 2016.

Süren was accused of; being a member of Independent Journalists’ Association, which was shut down by a decree-law and distributing Özgürlükçü Demokrasi and Azadiya Welat newspapers, which too were shut down.

The indictment accused Süren of “knowingly and willingly aiding an armed terrorist organisation without being in its hierarchical structure” according to the articles 220/7 and 314/2 of the Turkish Penal Code. She was requested to be sentenced to, from five years to 10 years of imprisonment.

Süren was also accused of “making propaganda for a terrorist organisation” according to the article 7/2 of the Anti-Terror Law. Within that scope, Süren was requested to be sentenced to, from one year to five years of imprisonment.

Therefore in total Süren was facing from six years to 15 years of imprisonment.

The indictment was accepted by Diyarbakır 11th Assize Court on February 18, 2019.

Trial of journalist Durket Süren started with the first hearing at Diyarbakır 11th Assize Court on May 8, 2019.

Süren, in her defence statement at the first hearing said; “I used to work at the women’s news agency. I used to make news about women’s rights. I do not accept these charges. I had an account but I did not share any posts to constitute the crime of propaganda. I just distributed the paper at the selected organisations.”

Court showed Süren the photos that were found in the subject matter social media posts. Süren said; “I have a twitter account but I do not remember if I shared these”.

Süren’s attorney Pirozhan Karali, stated that the social media posts were from the past. Karali said, “My client is already saying that she opened the account but did not share the posts. Therefore it requires a detection”. Karali stated that they did not accept the “subjects of helping and getting help from the organisation”. Karali requested Süren to be exempted from the hearings, meaning she would not have to appear at the hearings.

Attorney Resul Temur, too, stated that Süren could not be punished for distributing newspapers. He stated that both of the person Süren had the phone calls in the indictment were tried and acquitted.

Court lifted Süren’s obligation to take part in the hearings. It also ruled to wait for the report of Financial Crimes Investigation Board (MASAK) regarding the company founded to distribute the paper, which then was closed and the digital inspection report regarding the social media posts.

Second hearing of the case was held on October 2, 2019. It was announced that previously requested reports had not yet arrived to the court. Court ruled to wait for the reports.

Third hearing of the case was held on February 5, 2020. Durket Süren was not present. Süren was represented by her attorneys. Court once again ruled to wait for the previously requested reports.

Fourth hearing of the case was set to continue on May 18, 2020. However the hearing was postponed due to the measures taken against the coronavirus pandemic.

Trial is set to continue with the fifth hearing on September 28, 2020.

Contact: pressinarrest@gmail.com

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