Hayri Demir, Sibel Hürtaş - “Provoking the Public to Hatred, Hostility or Degrading” and “Propaganda of Terrorist Organization” Trial

Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office launched an investigation against those criticizing the Operation Olive Branch initiated by the Turkish Armed Forces on January 22, 2018 into the Afrin province of northern Syria. Under the scope of the investigation, 12 people, including journalists Demir and Hürtaş, were detained on the evening of the same day in house raids.

The suspects were taken to the indoor gym used by Ankara Police Department, Anti-Terror Branch as a detention center.

During the police interrogation, Demir and Hürtaş were questioned about their social media posts on the Afrin operation.

Journalist Hürtaş was referred to the prosecutor’s office at the Ankara Courthouse on January 25, 2018. Her statement was taken on charges of “publicly inciting the population to hatred and animosity” and “spreading propaganda of a terrorist organization via the media”. Hürtaş was subsequently released on condition of judicial control.

Journalist Demir was brought to Ankara Courthouse on January 26, 2018. Before he was taken to the prosecutor’s office, he was referred to Criminal Court of Peace on the same charges, with a request for his arrest. The judge on duty ordered that Demir be released with a ban on leaving the country.

The indictment against the defendants was completed on April 9, 2018 by a prosecutor at the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office. A lawsuit was filed when Ankara 15. High Criminal Court accepted the indictment on May 14, 2018.
The first hearing of the trial was scheduled for September 6, 2018.

At the first hearing, the court ordered the release of 3 defendants under arrest.

At the second hearing of the trial, the defendants’ requests for additional time for preparing their defense was accepted and the trial was adjourned until January 22, 2019. All the defendants were excluded from hearing.

The third hearing was held on March 27, 2019. At the hearing, the prosecutor, requested that the permission of Ministry of Justice be requested for trying seven defendants including Demir for “defaming The Turkish nation, Republic of Turkey, state institutions and organs” as per Turkish Penal Code, Article 301. The court decided to apply to the Ministry of Justice for the investigation of Demir and 6 other defendants as per Article 301.

The next hearing of the case was scheduled for July 3, 2019. At this hearing, the investigation permission letter from the Ministry of Justice had not yet arrived, and therefore, the trial was adjourned until December 3, 2019.

In the hearing, suspects’ request to lift the ban on leaving the country was denied. The hearing was adjourned due to the investigation permits against Demir and some other suspects that were requested from the Ministry of Justice not arriving in time. Next hearing was set to March 26th, 2020.

The 7th hearing of the case could not be held on 27 March 2020, as planned. The trial, postponed to 25 June due to “Coronavirus” pandemic measures.

Press in Arrest is a database, monitoring, documentation and collective memory study of Press Research Association.
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