Case against Turkish journalists who reported on public officials dismissed over time limit
Pınar Erdoğan - ANKARA
An Ankara court has dismissed the case in which five journalists were charged with “targeting anti-terror officials” for covering a news story about the officials’ responsibility for the deadliest terror attack in Turkey, which took place on Oct. 10, 2015.
The Ankara 2nd Heavy Criminal Court on Jan. 15 dismissed the case, in which daily Cumhuriyet’s former chief editor Can Dündar, reporter Kemal Göktaş, daily Evrensel chief editor Fatih Polat and reporters Cem Gurbetoğlu and Tamer Arda Erşin were charged with “targeting and disclosing anti-terror officials” for covering a report on the Oct. 10 attack in Ankara.
The court based its decision on a press law that states that a court case can only be opened on a news article within four months of the article being published, and in this case the time limit had been exceeded.
The news articles scrutinized in the case concerned an inspection report that indicated the possible negligence of security officials regarding the Oct. 10 attack, when alleged Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants bombed a peace rally near the Ankara Railway Station leaving 103 dead.
“It was a legal scandal that the journalists were tried for reporting on this inspection,” Kemal Göktaş, daily Cumhuriyet reporter told Hürriyet Daily News on Jan. 15.
“An ongoing issue is the fact that an investigation still hasn’t been carried out into the negligence exposed by the inspectors,” Göktaş added.
On Mar. 10, 2016, an Ankara prosecutor “rescinded the legal process” in the complaint filed against Ankara Police Chief Kadri Kartal and Deputy Police Chief Cemal Dalkılıç, as well as section chiefs, bureau chiefs, deputy inspectors and other police officers, over charges of failing to take sufficient measures both before and after the bomb attack.
Daily Evrensel Journalist Cem Gurbetoğlu has said the case indicates “the pressure that journalists who cover public officials’ responsibility have been facing.”
“The responsibility of public officials should always be a subject for a news story,” he said.