An investigation was launched against the journalist Necla Demir when she was managing editor of the web site Gazete Karınca. Istanbul Chief Prosecutor’s Office, Press Crimes Investigation Bureau initiated the investigation on January 21, 218 following a tip-off to the Prime Minister’s Office Communication Center (BİMER).
After the tip-off, a report on Gazete Karınca was drafted by Istanbul Police Department on May 8, 2018, arguing that in various articles, the web site presented Turkey as an “occupying state”.
Within the scope of the investigation, an indictment was drafted against Demir on the grounds of 15 news stories published on the website between January 21, 2018 and March 25, 2018. Demir was charged with “spreading continuous propaganda for a terrorist organization”.
The indictment was accepted by Istanbul 33. High Criminal Court and a lawsuit was filed. The first hearing of the case was held on May 23, 2019.
Necla Demir and her lawyer Özcan Kılıç attended the hearing. In her defense, journalist Necla Demir stated that the news stories corresponded to journalistic activities: “The indictment prepared against me due to the news stories about Afrin published in Gazete Karınca in 2018 goes against the law, and freedom of the press. These stories were published to inform the public within the limits of freedom of thought and expression.”
Indicating that she faces 13 years in prison, Demir stated, “This indictment violates the freedom of expression as defined by the Turkish Constitution and ECHR. I do not accept these charges. The stories correspond to journalism. Therefore, I demand my acquittal.”
Necla Demir’s lawyer Kılıç took the floor afterwards and demanded that his client be exempted from the hearings. Kılıç also added “The indictment states that the crime was committed through the press, but this is inapplicable to publications on the digital media.”
The prosecutor presented his opinion as to the accusations, and demanded that Necla Demir be sentenced for “spreading continuous propaganda for a terrorist organization”.
The hearing was adjourned until July 11, 2019 as lawyer Kılıç’s demand for additional time for preparing the defense was accepted by the court.
At the second hearing of the case, the Chairman of the Panel of Judges stated that the defense by journalist Demir was recorded via the judiciary videconferencing system SEGBİS at the first hearing, but it had not been transcribed since the SEGBİS had subsequently collapsed. For this reason, he asked that Demir be in attendance in court to submit her defense again. Demir’s lawyer Sercan Korkmaz agreed with Terzi. Terzi asked the lawyer, “Shall we issue a warrant or will you bring your client here?”, and the lawyer stated that he would bring his client.
Therefore, the trial was adjourned until October 11, 2019. At the 3. hearing, Demir reiterated in her defense that the news story in question was for purely journalistic purposes. The court ruled that there was no criminal offense, that the attributed crime was not defined as crime in the Constitution, and acquitted the defendant.