Court rules against freeing journalists, case postponed
ISTANBUL - Doğan News Agency
A large number of journalists, lawyers and supporters gathered in front of the Çağlayan court during the first trial of the case in Nov.2011 to call for attention. AA photoAn Istanbul court ruled against the release of prominent journalists Nedim Şener and Ahmet Şık, who have both remained behind bars since their arrest in March in connection with their alleged links to the Ergenekon clique.
“To silence journalists is to silence the people. It is journalism that is on trial here, and the principle of confidentiality of the news source that is being stamped out,” Şık said in court.
Şık flatly denied the charges leveled against him yesterday during the eighth hearing of the Oda TV probe that began after law enforcement officials conducted a search of the offices of the online news portal in February last year as part of the ongoing Ergenekon investigation.
“The situation is obvious. I do not request a discharge. I request nothing. I am a journalist, and I have always been after the truth. I never received any orders from anyone,” said Şık, an award-winning journalist who has written books about the clandestine activities of the Turkish state.
Meanwhile, the European Union and the United States have expressed concern over the apprehension of journalists in Turkey, with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton calling upon Turkish authorities to tackle the matter on multiple occasions.
“I do not think the secretary left the Turkish government in any doubt about where we stand on the press freedom issue,” U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said during a press meeting on Thursday.
The State Department also said it was monitoring the proceedings, according to reports.
“We have to see whether this trial goes forward in a manner that is consistent with international standards, consistent with international human rights. So that’s the standard by which we’ll judge it,” Nuland said.
Currently being tried in the Oda TV case are 14 suspects, including arrested journalist Soner Yalçın and former Police Chief Hanefi Avcıoğlu, who has written about the alleged infiltration of the police force by the religious Gülen community.
Ergenekon is an alleged ultranationalist gang accused of plotting to overthrow the government by breeding chaos in society.
Reactions to broadcast
Istanbul - Hürriyet Daily News
Social media users have reacted strongly after Samanyolu TV, part of the pro-government Zaman Group, informed viewers Jan. 5 that suspects in the Oda TV case would not be released 20 minutes before the court made the official announcement.
“Samanyolu TV announced the decision 20 minutes early. What type of figures are we in this theater?” columnist Ümit Alan said on his Twitter account.
“If Samanyolu TV was going to announce this, why did we have to wait outside of the court?” daily Radikal writer Özgür Mumcu also wrote on Twitter.
Many others also sarcastically criticized the news, saying Samanyolu TV’s early announcement was a major feat of journalism. On Jan. 5, an Istanbul court rejected demands from two prominent reporters, Ahmet Şık and Nedim Şener, that they be released from jail pending trial for alleged links to the Ergenekon gang in the Oda TV case.
The court announced the ruling at 9:50 p.m., a full 23 minutes after Samanyolu TV first broke the news.