Hearing of journalists in Ankara adjourned until October 26
The secret witness said that he did not have concrete information to provide for many of the questions addressed to him. He confessed to having engaged in the activities of the MA on behalf of the state.
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) ranks Turkey 165th out of 180 countries on its press freedom list, and the pressure on journalists continues. In addition to censorship and repression, 79 media professionals are imprisoned in Turkish jails for their professional activities, according to the latest report by the Dicle Firat Journalists' Association (DFG).
Media professionals working in the tradition of the "Free Press" are the ones who suffer the most from the AKP policy of censorship and repression. In recent weeks, DFG co-chair Dicle Müftüoğlu, Abdurrahman Gök, Sedat Yılmaz and Mehmet Şah Oruç of the Mezopotamya Agency (MA), JinNews reporter Beritan Canözer and journalists Mikail Barut and Remzi Akkaya were imprisoned.
Journalists Diren Yurtsever, Selman Güzelyüz, Deniz Nazlım, Berivan Altan, Emrullah Acar, Hakan Yalçın, Ceylan Şahinli, Zemo Ağgöz, Habibe Eren and Öznur Değer, who were detained on 25 October 2022 and jailed on 29 October as part of an investigation by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office for "membership of an illegal organisation", were released on the first day of the trial at the Ankara 4th Heavy Penal Court on 16 May. Journalist Hamdullah Bayram, detained in the same investigation on 16 March 2023, remains in pre-trial detention.
The second hearing in the case against Mezopotamya News Agency editor Diren Yurtsever, Mezopotamya reporters Berivan Altan, Ceylan Şahinli, Deniz Nazlım, Emrullah Acar, Hakan Yalçın, Salman Güzelyüz, and Zemo Ağgöz Yiğitsoy, freelance journalist Öznur Değer, JİNNEWS reporter Ümmü Habibe Eren and former MA reporting intern Mehmet Günhan was held at Ankara 4th Heavy Penal Court today.
The trial was attended by some of the journalists on trial, and monitored by the Association of Lawyers for Freedom (ÖHD), Association of Contemporary Lawyers (ÇHD), Human Rights Association (IHD) and the Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA).
Zemo Ağgöz remarked that the suit brought against them was not independent of the political atmosphere in Turkey. Pointing to the accounts by so-called witnesses, Ağgöz said: “Our journalism and the agency we work for stand trial on the grounds of baseless allegations, because of which I could not breastfeed my baby for 45 days during detention and because of which I have been brought here with my 10-month-old baby today.”
The court then listened to the secret witness "K8Ç4B3L1T5" who repeated his previous statement at the prosecution office.
The secret witness said that he did not have concrete information to provide for many of the questions addressed to him. He confessed to having engaged in activities of the MA on behalf of the state.
Ferhat Çelik, concessionaire of the Mezopotamya News Agency, was heard as a witness through the Audio and Visual Information System (SEGBİS) and pointed out that they did rights-based journalism.
The court board ruled for the continuation of judicial control over the journalists on trial and rejected the request for the return of the confiscated digital material.
The hearing was adjourned until October 26.