Prosecutor seeks prison sentence for 10 journalists working for Free Press

The prosecutor in the case of 10 journalists who are on trial for their professional activities in an Ankara-based investigation demanded a sentence.

The trial of Mezopotamya Agency (MA) reporters Diren Yurtsever, Berivan Altan, Selman Güzelyüz, Hakan Yalçın, Emrullah Acar, Ceylan Şahinli, Zemo Ağgöz and Deniz Nazlım, JINNEWS reporters Habibe Eren and Öznur Değer and former MA intern Mehmet Günhan, who were arrested on 29 October 2022 through an Ankara based investigation and released on 16 May 2023, was held on Thursday. The hearing of the lawsuit filed on the charge of "illegal organisation membership" was held at Ankara 4th High Criminal Court.

Journalists Selman Güzelyüz and Deniz Nazlım, who are on trial without arrest, and their lawyers attended the hearing. Human Rights Association (IHD) Ankara Branch executives and lawyers from the Association of Lawyers for Freedom (ÖHD) also attended the hearing.

In the final opinion submitted to the court, the prosecution demanded the journalists to be sentenced. The final statement was based on the testimony of secret witness "K8" and witness Kerem Gökalp. It was claimed that the journalists had conducted interviews with HDP and DEM Party representatives on "instructions". The prosecutor claimed that MA and JINNEWS "increased the morale and motivation of the organisation members".

The lawyers of the journalists requested additional time for the final opinion. Lawyer Resul Tamur said, "The prosecution's final opinion must be clear and understandable. There must be a connection between the evidence and the defendants. Otherwise, the Court of Cassation states that this is a violation of the right to defence." Temur emphasised that there is no causal link between the allegations and the journalists and demanded that the judicial control order on the journalists be lifted and the prosecution be made to explain the "causal link".

The court lifted the signature conviction against the journalists but decided to continue the ban on leaving the country.

The next hearing was adjourned to 3 July.