On December 20, 2017, Mezapotamya Agency reporter Seda Taşkın was stopped by the police at Muş to have a Criminal Record Check (GBT). After the identification check, she was released.
About 20 minutes later, she was called by the police on her cellphone. She was told that she “had some papers to sign” and was summoned to the Muş Police Station. She went to the Muş Police Station. However she was told “there was a serious denunciation against her” and was taken into custody.
At the police station she was asked “Why she had gone to 75-year-old Sise Bingöl’s house, who was arrested on April 6, 2016 at Varto Province of Muş”. Her social media posts were questioned.
Custody process took 3 days. On December 23, 2017, she was taken to the Muş Courthouse. After the interrogation, she was forwarded to the court with a request for her arrest on the grounds of “membership of an armed terrorist organisation” and “making propaganda for a terrorist organisation”. She was released with a judicial control condition, to pend trial.
Prosecutor’s Office objected the release decision. A capture warrant was issued against her.
On January 23, 2018, she was taken into custody in Ankara for the second time. She appeared at Bitlis Criminal Court of Peace through Audio and Video Information System (SEGBİS). She was arrested with the accusation of “membership of an armed terrorist organisation”. She was then taken to Sinan Prison.
The indictment against her was completed on March 8, 2108.
The indictment claimed that the aforementioned denunciation was “made anonymously on December 20, 2017 at 16.40”. The indictment claimed that the following sentences were used in the denunciation:
“KCK member person called Seher Taşkın, is recording propaganda videos about terrorists, organises the teens. Please take care of this person. For my safety I want to remain anonymous.”
Taşkın’s name on her ID card was Seher. However, Taşkın, in her news and personal life was using the name Seda. However the indictment claimed that the Name Seda, Taşkın was using, was a “code name”.
Taşkın’s social media posts, likes and re-posts were shown as evidence for the accusations.
The indictment also included the news Taşkın shared at Mezapotamya Agency, where she was working. It was noteworthy that one of the news articles mentioned in the indictment was the news titled “Our reporter Seda Taşkın is taken into custody”, made after she was in custody.
The indictment accused Taşkın of “membership of an armed terrorist organisation” according to the article 314/2 of the Turkish Penal Code and article 5 of the Anti-Terror Law. She was requested to be sentenced to, from seven years six months to 15 years of imprisonment.
Taşkın was also accused of “making propaganda for a terrorist organisation” according to the article 7/2 of the Anti-Terror Law. However the indictment claimed that “the crime of making propaganda for a terrorist organisation was committed through media”. Thus the requested sentences was requested to be increased by a half according to the 2nd subsection of the article 7/2 of the Anti-Terror Law. The indictment also claimed that the crime of “making propaganda for a terrorist organisation” was committed “in a successive manner”. Therefore the already-requested-to-be-increased-by-half sentence was requested to be increased by, from a quarter to three quarters according to the article 43 of the Turkish Penal Code. Taşkın, was requested to be sentenced to, from one year 10 months 15 days to 13 years one month 15 days of imprisonment for “making propaganda for a terrorist organisation through media in a successive manner”.
Taşkın, in total, faced from nine years four months 15 days to 28 years one month 15 days of imprisonment.
Taşkın’s trial started with the first hearing at Muş 2nd Assize Court on April 30, 2018.
Taşkın took part in the hearing through Audio and Video Information System (SEGBİS) from Sinan Prison where she was being kept.
Taşkın, stated that the name Seda she used was not a code name, her family was using that name too. She said that Dicle News Agency and dihaber, where she worked, were legally operating businesses when she worked there. She stated that she did non make the news, shown as the evidence for the accusations against her, she could only make pre-interviews to prepare the news. She denied the accusations that she was “making news in favour of the organisation. She also denied the accusation of “making propaganda for a terrorist organisation”.
At the first hearing, it was revealed that the denunciation e-mail that led to her custody was sent from a Police Headquarter official mail address. Court revealed the content of the email sent to the Communications Electronic Branch but kept the informants identity confidential.
Attorneys requested the IP address of the computer that sent the mail to be identified. This request was denied.
Court requested an investigation from her neighbourhood police station on whether Taşkın used the name “Seda” or not. At the hearing she was ruled to continue her detainment.
Second hearing of the case was held on September 12, 2018. Prosecutor revealed the opinion as to the accusations. Prosecutor requested Taşkın to be punished for “membership of an armed terrorist organisation” and “making propaganda for a terrorist organisation through press in a successive manner” as per requested in the indictment.
Taşkın, in her defence against the opinion as to the accusations said the following:
“I am being detained for the past 9 months, solely for fulfilling my duties as a journalist. If I am being tried for acts of journalism, there would not be anyone left in Turkey who could do this job. Journalism is not crime.”
Taşkın was ruled to continue her detention.
Fourth and decisive hearing of the case was held on October 10, 2018.
Throughout the trial, Taşkın was accused of “membership of an armed terrorist organisation”. However, the decision accused taşkın of “knowingly and willingly aiding a terrorist organisation, without being a member”. Taşkın was also accused of “making propaganda for a terrorist organisation”.
Taşkın, in total, was sentenced to seven years six months of imprisonment. Court ruled for continuation of her detention.
Seda Taşkın’s attorneys, objected local courts decision. The appeal was accepted by Erzurum Regional Court of Justice. The appeal court accepted the appeal request. With the acceptance of the appeal decision, Taşkın was released on January 17, 2019.
Appeal trial started with the first hearing on March 20, 2019. Taşkın took part in the hearing through SEGBİS from Ankara.
Prosecutor of the appeal trial presented his opinion as to the accusations at the first hearing. Requested the first degree court’s decision to be approved. Hearing was postponed to prepare defence arguments against the opinion.
Second hearing of the appeal trial was held on May 15, 2019. Taşkın was sentenced to one year 11 months 10 days of imprisonment for “making propaganda for a terrorist organisation”. Announcement of the sentence (HAGB) was deferred.
High Court Process
Prosecution objected the appeal court’s partial reversal and remission decision. Decision was taken to the Court of Cassation.
Appeal inspection of the decision is ongoing at the Court of Cassation.
Press in Arrest is a database, monitoring, documentation and collective memory study of Press Research Association.
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