Court rules to confiscate books by prominent journalists

Court rules to confiscate books by prominent journalists

İsmail Saymaz
Court rules to confiscate books by prominent journalists

A local court has decided to confiscate books by two prominent Turkish journalists after they were found during an operation on a cell where suspected militants of the outlawed Patriotic Revolutionary Youth Movement (YDG-H) were detained. 

A total of three books focusing on the Kurdish problem by journalists Hasan Cemal and Tuğçe Tatari will be confiscated after the Third Criminal Court of Peace in southeastern Gaziantep province decided to remove them from bookstores for being seized during an operation. 

The books were charged with “spreading terrorist propaganda to the extent of encouraging violence” and “praising crime and criminal activity.”

A Gaziantep public prosecutor launched an anti-terror operation on Oct. 11 against a group suspected of being YDG-H militants and providing arms to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). 

A number of books by imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan were seized during the operation, alongside some magazines, leaflets and calendars. 

In addition to the above-mentioned publications, Cemal’s “Delila / Bir Genç Gerillanın Dağ Günlükleri” (Delila / Mountain diaries of a young guerilla) and “Çözüm Sürecinde Kürdistan Günlükleri” (Kurdistan Diaries during the Resolution Process), and Tatari’s “Anneanne, Ben Aslında Diyarbakır’da Değildim” (Grandmother, I wasn’t really at Diyarbakır) were also seized inside the flat of a suspect identified as H.V. 

The prosecutor’s office litigated later on Oct. 11, demanding the confiscation of all publications seized during the operation. 

The court ruled for the confiscation of the books on Dec. 4, arguing they spread terrorist propaganda and praised criminal activity.

“The investigation shows that the seized material spreads terrorist propaganda by legitimizing the methods of the terror organization that involve compulsion, violence or threats,” the ruling said. 

Speaking to daily Radikal, Tatari’s lawyer, Aslı Kazan Gilmore, defined the decision as “against the constitution and laws,” and “a violation of the right to express or disseminate opinions.”

“We are facing an unjust and illegal decision by the criminal court of peace that was given after government policy on the Kurdish question shifted,” Gilmore said, adding they would appeal to the Constitutional Court, if necessary.

The decision was also slammed  by deputies from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP). 

“It is not possible to make a legal assessment about an action that is definitely illegal. It is not possible to fight against violence by confiscating books. As lawyers, we have fought against such practices for many years,” said CHP Ankara deputy Şenal Sarıhan on Dec. 16.

“Look at where we have now reached - it is the same as the practices of martial law … This is also the result of recent pressure imposed on freedom of the press and freedom of expression,” Sarıhan also said. 

Meanwhile, Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) İzmir deputy Ertuğrul Kürkçü said many local court rulings did not comply with amendments in the Anti-Terror Law made in line with European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) rulings.

“A judge cannot make a decision for confiscation without supporting his decision with concrete justification. We see that the judge has exploited his right of discretion in this case. This ruling has no legal validity,” Kürkçü said.