Ahmet Kanbal, a reporter for the Mesopotamia News Agency, was taken into custody on February 8, 2018 for his social media posts. After spending one day in custody, he appeared in court and was released.
Izmir Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office completed an indictment against Kanbal on March 26, 2018. In the 3-page indictment, 33 Tweets by Kanbal were cited as evidence. All of the Tweets concerned the “Operation Olive Branch” launched on January 20, 2018 by the Turkish Armed Forces into the Afrin province of northern Syria. Kanbal was charged with ”continuously spreading propaganda for a terrorist organization through the media.”
Upon the acceptance of the indictment by the İzmir Second High Criminal Court, a lawsuit was filed against him on charges of “spreading propaganda for a terrorist organization.”
The first hearing of the case was on November 20, 2018. Kanbal stated that his posts fell under the scope of journalistic activities:
“These cannot be seen as crimes. Had the prosecutor, who drafted the indictment, read the news mentioned in the tweets, he would have seen that they were all news articles. Even if I stand trial, I will continue to work as a journalist for peace. Journalism is a profession of courage not fear.”
At the hearing, the prosecutor stated his opinion that Kanbal was “continuously spreading propaganda for a terrorist organization through the media.” The hearing was postponed to February 26, 2019 after the defense lawyer requested additional time for preparation of defense against the prosecutor’s opinion as to the accusations.
At the final hearing of the trial, it was decided that the case file be sent to the Ministry of Justice, to be brought under the scope of Turkish Penal Code, Article 301. The trial will continue depending on the pending response from the Ministry of Justice.
In the scope this, Ministry of Justice did not allow an investigation against him to be tried. With the expected answer arriving from the Ministry, the trial continued. 4th hearing of the case was held at December 13th, 2019. At the end of the hearing ruled for Kanbal’s acquittal.