Mağden, Ketenciler - Insulting the President of the Republic Trial

Nokta magazine, which was shuttered in April 2016, had published an article titled, “Semih: The Tayyip-like figure on Survivor Island.” The participant of the TV show in question, Semih Öztürk, filed a complaint with the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office against Perihan Mağden, and the news website T24, which had republished the Nokta story. An investigation was launched based on Öztürk’s complaint, which alleged that Perihan Mağden insulted him and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

In the course of investigating the complaint, the prosecutor’s office invited Perihan Mağden to give a statement. Mağden indicated in her statement at the prosecutor’s office that she had criticized Semih Öztürk, a competitor in the television show “Survivor Island,”” for his unusual behavior, and had pointed to some similarities between Öztürk and the President. She stated that the article was not about the President, and that there was no complaint filed by his lawyers. She cited jurisprudence by the European Court of Human Rights underlining that criticism can sometimes be severe, shocking and offensive.

T24’s editor-in-chief İnan Ketenciler also gave a statement as part of the investigation, indicating that the article was not penned by T24, and that they had only republished it from Nokta magazine. He pleaded not guilty to the charges in question.

The prosecutor indicated in the indictment that during the investigation he could not access the original article in question, since Nokta magazine was shut down by a decree issued during the state of emergency, and its website was no longer accessible.

In the indictment drafted by Public Prosecutor, on June 6, 2017, it was claimed that Perihan Mağden had committed an offense that went beyond the limits of criticism. The prosecutor also argued that republishing the same article on the website T24 was a repetition of the same offense. Had received the consent of the justice minister, which was necessary for pressing the charge of insulting the President, and requested that the suspects be tried and sentenced.

The first hearing in the case was held on Nov. 2, 2017, after the indictment was accepted by the 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance. İnan Ketenciler attended the first hearing as a defendant and requested additional time, stating that he wanted to hire a lawyer to defend him in court. The judge asked Ketenciler about his statements during the investigation, and his objection to the petition of a lawyer who wanted to intervene in the case on behalf of President Erdoğan. The court decided to accept the involvement of President Erdoğan’s lawyer in the trial.

At the fourth hearing in the case, held on Nov. 22, 2018, an arrest warrant in absentia was issued for Perihan Mağden, since she did not attend the hearings and did not give any statements to the court. Mağden attended the fifth hearing of the case on Jan. 10, 2019 and presented her defense. She explained that in her article in question, she had focused on Semih Öztürk, who had become the most controversial participant in the highly popular TV show “Survivor Island” due to his unusual behavior. She stated that, in her article, she established similarities between Semih Öztürk and the President, and explained that Öztürk, with his often-criticized behavior, tried to capitalize on the popularity of the President. Mağden underlined that, as a columnist, such criticism was within her rights and was part of her profession. Mağden indicated that her article was not about the President, but about Öztürk, that she had no intention of insulting anyone, and denied the accusations.

In the sixth hearing held on Feb. 21, 2019, Halil Kocabaş, İnan Ketenciler’s lawyer, requested additional time to prepare the defense against the accusations.

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