Court rules to release 15 Kurdish journalists after the first hearing

The first hearing of the case in which 18 journalists - 15 of whom are imprisoned - are standing trial, resumed today at Diyarbakır 4th Heavy Penal Court.

As part of an investigation carried out by the Diyarbakır Chief Public Prosecutor's Office, 22 people, 20 of them journalists, were detained in raids on houses and media outlets in many Amed-centered cities on 8 June 2022. Among those detained, Dicle Fırat Journalists Association (DGF) Co-chair Serdar Altan, Mesopotamia Agency (MA) editor Aziz Oruç, Xwebûn Editor-in-Chief Mehmet Ali Ertaş, journalists Zeynel Abidin Bulut, Ömer Çelik, Mazlum Doğan Güler, İbrahim Koyuncu, Neşe Toprak, Elif Üngür, Abdurrahman Öncü, Suat Doğuhan, Remziye Temel, Ramazan Geciken, Lezgin Akdeniz and Mehmet Şahin were imprisoned 8 days later for alleged terror charges.

The imprisoned journalists have appeared in court for the first time after 13 months in custody. The hearing ongoing since yesterday was monitored by Dicle Fırat Journalists Association (DFG), Mesopotamia Women Journalists Platform (MKGP), Journalists Union of Turkey (TGS), Contemporary Journalists Association (ÇGD), DİSK Basın-İş, MLSA, Journalists Protection Committee (CPJ), representatives of many professional organizations, as well as lawyers from Amsterdam Law Offices, legal organizations such as Amed Bar Association, Lawyers Association for Freedom (ÖHD), representatives of MED-DER and IHD, and deputies from the Green Left Party, HDP and CHP.

Today’s hearing continued with the defense of journalists who protested the indictment for labelling them as terrorists and vowed to continue to do journalism and defend their work.

“We are not here to give an account of what we have done, but to call to account those who accuse us,” said the journalists.

Mehmet Çelik, who spoke as a witness, stated that he did not witness any crime being committed in the accused media outlets and companies.

Following the defense of journalists, the prosecutor requested the continuation of the imprisonment of journalists on the grounds of the “available evidence”.

The court board ruled for the release of all jailed journalists on condition of judicial control.