A lawsuit was filed against Cumhuriyet newspaper reporter Alican Uludağ and ex-reporter Duygu Güvenç on July 27, 2018, for their news stories published in Cumhuriyet about the American pastor Andrew Brunson who detained in Turkey. In separate news stories, Uludağ and Güvenç wrote that Brunson’s subsequent release was based on political and diplomatic, rather than legal reasons.
The investigation initiated by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office claimed that the journalists “publicly defamed the state’s judicial organs.” The investigation file was sent to the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office of Istanbul, where the Cumhuriyet is located.
In their statements at the prosecutor’s office, Uludağ and Güvenç indicated that they did not defame judiciary organs in their stories and did not have such intent, emphasizing that they simply exercised their rights of journalism and criticism.
Istanbul Public Prosecutor’s Office, drafted an indictment against the two journalists for allegedly “defaming the Turkish nation, Republic of Turkey and Turkish Grand National Assembly” as per Article 301 of Turkish Penal Code, upon the Ministry of Justice’s approval dated September 5, 2018. Sarıdere completed his indictment on October 1, 2018.
The trial continues at Istanbul 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance. The first hearing of the case was held on December 20, 2018. Alican Uludağ attended the hearing, presented his defense and pleaded not guilty.
The second hearing on April 4, 2019, and the third hearing on June 20, 2019, could not be held, since the judge, who presides over the case, was on leave. Duygu Güvenç presented her defense at the fourth hearing on October 10, 2019.
The sixth hearing of the case could not be held on 16 April 2020, as planned. The trial, postponed to 2 July 2020 due to Coronavirus pandemic measures.
The seventh hearing of the trial was held on July 2nd, 2020. Uludağ and his lawyer did not attend the hearing. The judge asked the lawyers whether they would opt for a deferment of the announcement of the verdict. Duygu Güvenç’s lawyer Abbas Yalçın accepted the deferment.
Güvenç’s lawyer Yalçın stated, ‘’I will defend news stories with news stories. My client did not coin the expression ‘hostage diplomacy’. It is in wide use since Deniz Yücel was arrested,’‘ and presented to the court news stories on Deniz Yücel’s release without a ban on going abroad. Yalçın added, ‘’Everyone knows about the deficiencies in our judiciary system. Judges, prosecutors and lawyers, we have to accept such criticism; we have no right to feel offended.’‘
The court accepted the excuse presented by Alican Uludağ’s lawyer.
The eighth hearing of the trial is scheduled for October 22nd, 2020.
Press in Arrest is a database, monitoring, documentation and collective memory study of Press Research Association.
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