Hayri Demir - “Membership of an Armed Terrorist Organization” and “Propaganda of Terrorist Organization” Trial

Journalist Hayri Demir was taken into custody in Ankara on March 16, 2017, and after eight days in detention he was released on condition of judicial control. In this investigation, Demir was charged for the news stories he penned from northern Syria controlled by Democratic Union Party (PYD - Partiya Yekîtiya Demokrat). The indictment was completed by Ankara Public Prosecutor, on May 16, 2019 at the end of more than two years of investigation.

When the indictment was issued, it turned out that the evidence in the investigation was obtained by the prosecutor when the camera memory cards stolen by thieves who had broken into Demir’s house on February 28, 2016 ended up in the police department. According to the indictment, an individual named Ö.H. had found the said memory cards on the street where Demir lived less than 24 hours after the breaking and entering, and sent these to the police.

The prosecutor claimed in the indictment that the footage and photo taken by Demir in Syria for journalistic purposes were tantamount to “activity within a terrorist organization”. The indictment also cited Demir’s social media posts and charged him for “membership of a terrorist organization” and “spreading propaganda for a terrorist organization”.

The indictment was accepted by Ankara 15. High Criminal Court, where Demir’s trial was underway. Demir was charged of “membership of an armed terrorist organization” and “spreading propaganda for an armed terrorist organization”, and the trial began on September 24, 2019.

Demir attended the hearing, stated that he had not been presented the indictment, and demanded extra time for preparing his defense. The court accepted Demir’s request and adjourned the trial until October 23, 2019.

Presenting his defense at the second hearing of the trial, Demir drew attention to the fact that the charges against him corresponded entirely to his journalistic activities and that the file included no evidence apart from these activities: “This file is nothing but a conspiracy against me,” Demir said. He indicated that the case was filed after the memory cards stolen from his house were handed over to the police, and stated that the evidence was obtained in an illicit manner. Demir demanded his acquittal.

The trial was adjourned until January 23, 2020.

The 4th hearing of the case could not be held 26 April 2020, as planned. The trial, postponed to 17 September 2020 due to Coronavirus pandemic measures.



Hayri Demir

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