The fifth hearing in the main trial of Özgür Gündem daily, that was closed through a statutory decree issued under the State of Emergency, has been held today (October 31).
The daily's Managing Editor İnan Kızılkaya and beneficiary Kemal Sancılı, the only ones among the nine defendants in the main trial, who have been in jail pending trial, have been released in today's hearing. Next hearing will be on March 6, 2017.
In Özgür Gündem daily main trial, 9 defendants are standing trial, namely; Özgür Gündem Consultant Board members and writers Necmiye Alpay, Aslı Erdoğan, Ragıp Zarakolu, Filiz Koçali, Bilge Oykut and Editors-in-Chief Zana Bilir Kaya and Managing Editor İnan Kızılkaya as well as writer Eren Keskin and beneficiary Kemal Sancılı.
After the daily was closed through the Statutory Decree No. 675 issued under the State of Emergency, the solidarity campaing of "Editors-in-Chief on Watch" was launched on May 3, 2016 that ended on August 7, 2016. Investigations were launched into 50 of the 56 Editors-in-Chief on Watch who have participated in the campaign. In 11 of these cases, the court has ordered not to prosecute and in 38 cases, a lawsuit was filed. One case was dismissed due to expiration of the Statute of Limitation in the investigation.
Observers of the trial
In today's hearing, that was held before İstanbul 23th Assize Court in Çağlayan Courtroom, defendants Eren Keskin, Necmiye Alpay as well as the defendants of the trial who were in detention pending trial, Kemal Sancılı and İnan Kızılkaya appeared before the judge.
Representatives from the Consulate of Germany, Hakan Tahmaz from the Peace Foundation, MPs Sezgin Tanrıkulu and Hilmi Yarayıcı from the Republican People's Party (CHP), as well as Gülsüm Elvan, the mother of Berkin Elvan who lost his life during the Gezi Resistance, Bülent Aydın from the Global Commission of Peace and Justice, as well as various journalists, representatives from rights organizations and writers were among the observers of the hearing.
Reference to Constitutional Court's decision, UN report
Özcan Kılıç, one of the attorneys of the trial demanded that the international travel ban imposed on defendant Eren Keskin be lifted and the defenndants Kızılkaya and Sancılı be released.
Commenting on the interim decision of the court, attorney Kılç said that the defendants were not being released pending trial since the court considered them at flight risk and noted that there was no such suspicion and that the only thing the defendants had been practicing, was journalism.
Attorney Kılıç also submitted to the court a previous decision of the Constitutional Court to support the release demand and a report of the United Nations (UN) stating that there was no harm in publishing the news articles which was the subject of the alleged crimes.
Kızılkaya: "We are journalists, my only weapon is my pen"
Kızılaya, following the court's release order, said:
"I have been deprived of my freedom and been in solitary confinement for 441 days.
"Hundreds of police officers raided Özgür Gündem daily on August 16, as if they would raid the castle of the enemy. Although they could have taken us in custody just the usual way. We were not armed with cannons and rifles. I am a journalist, we are journalists. My only weapon is my pen.
"I am a Kurd, we do know the power of the state very well"
"The newspaper where I was able to work for for five months, was criticizing the state power that had gone beyond the norm. I am a Kurd, we do know the power of the state very well. My mother tongue is Kurdish but I am making my statement of defence in Turkish. But in democratic countries, people are not supposed to feel the power of the state but rather freedom.
"They will not be able to break my pen. I stand by all my news articles. Journalists do not bend before any power or authority. Journalism is not a crime. All journalists should be released immediately. This is the sole power for peace. (TP/HK/DG)
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