Court hears suspects in daily Özgür Gündem case

Court hears suspects in daily Özgür Gündem case

ISTANBUL
Court hears suspects in daily Özgür Gündem case

A case into daily Özgür Gündem’s editors-in-chief on duty continued on Nov. 24, with the case being postponed until Feb. 14, 2017, against a number of arrested and non-arrested journalists.

A total of 16 names are being tried on terror charges as part of an investigation into the closed daily.

The figures are charged over their reports during their one day of service as editor-in-chief of Özgür Gündem as part of the daily’s “Editor-in-Chief on Duty” campaign. 

Writers Hasan Cemal, Aslı Erdoğan and Yıldırım Türker, linguist Necmiye Alpay and the daily’s managing editor, İnan Kızılkaya, are among the intellectuals being tried.  

The second hearing of the case started early on Nov. 24, with writers, journalists, intellectuals and human rights activists gathering in Çağlayan Courthouse for support. Supporters of Alpay lit birthday cakes to mark the linguist’s birthday. 

“The cases into me are Voltaire cases,” Alpay told the court, adding that she was demanding her acquittal.

“My aim is not to defend the content; I defend the right to voice my thoughts,” she also said. 

Noting that she “doesn’t want to defend a terrorist organization,” Alpay said what she did was “not a crime but a Voltairian action.”

“Socialism was crushed due to a lack of freedom of expression,” she said.

During her defense, Alpay also said the pressure on Özgür Gündem journalists was high and they “couldn’t even breathe.” 

Another figure who defended himself in the trial was Cemal, who said the aim of journalism is to “find peace.” 

“Turkish journalists cannot be free without Kurdish journalists being free. I want to underscore it,” he told the court, adding that he has nothing to say regarding the contents of the daily.  

Özgür Gündem was shut down on Aug. 16 for allegedly conducting propaganda on behalf of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and acting as the organization’s media organ.

A member of Özgür Gündem’s advisory board, Aslı Erdoğan was arrested on Aug. 19 on charges of being a member of armed terror organization after a court ordered it closed for allegedly engaging in propaganda for the PKK.

Alpay, meanwhile, was arrested on Aug. 31 on charges of being a member of a terror organization.

A court announced on Nov. 23 that Erdoğan and Alpay were to be released pending trial, only to rule that they would remain under arrest for their alleged crimes on another charge.