Euro court rejects Turkey’s request for additional time to submit defense in Cumhuriyet case
The Justice Ministry, which had already twice asked the ECHR to be granted additional time, was rejected after its third request, daily Cumhuriyet reported on Nov. 9.
The Strasbourg-based court made an amendment to its bylaw on May 31 regarding the sorting of cases that will be processed, after journalists in a number of European countries applied to the court in recent years with complaints on violations of media freedom.
Following the amendment, the ECHR prioritized proceedings for applications filed by Turkish journalists in recent months and demanded the government’s defense in the cases of 10 journalists.
The court requested defenses in the rights violations cases filed by Cumhuriyet editor-in-chief Murat Sabuncu, Cumhuriyet CEO Akın Atalay and Cumhuriyet reporter Ahmet Şık, as well as journalists Nazlı Ilıcak, Mehmet Altan, Ahmet Altan, Şahin Alpay, Ali Bulaç, Murat Aksoy, Atilla Taş, and German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yücel.
While Aksoy and Taş are being tried without arrest after being released from jail on Oct. 26, the remaining eight journalists are under arrest.
Asking for additional time, the Justice Ministry reportedly submitted no defenses to the ECHR on allegations of “violations of the right to security, freedom and the freedom of expression,” despite the expiration of the Nov. 7 due date set by the court.
The court, however, accepted Turkey’s request for a deadline extension in the case of Şık, setting the new deadline for Nov. 15. Ankara was also given until Nov. 28 to send its defense in the case of Die Welt reporter Yücel, who has been under arrest on terror charges since February.
Additional time requests for Aksoy, Taş, Alpay and Bulaç, meanwhile, were rejected.
Elsewhere, daily Sözcü reporter Gökmen Ulu was released from Silivri Prison late on Nov. 8 after spending 174 days in jail.
Ulu, who was tried under arrest over “helping an armed terrorist organization intentionally and without being involved in its hierarchical structure,” was welcomed by his family and colleagues.
“I see this 174 days as a price for our struggle for democracy, justice and freedom of press and expression. There are many more steps that Turkey should take, of course. I see this as one drop of hope,” Ulu told reporters after being freed.
“Jailing journalists for journalistic activities and pressuring newspapers are clear signs that justice and democracy are fighting for their lives. Turkey needs to get rid of this shame and heal this wound,” he added.
Sözcü’s proprietor Burak Akbay faces 30 years in jail for “managing an armed terrorist organization” and “making propaganda of a terrorist organization” in the case. Ulu and news editors Melda Olgun and Yonca Kaleli face up to 15 years in jail for “helping an armed terrorist organization intentionally and without being involved in its hierarchical structure.”
Ulu also vowed to continue to speak the truth as a journalist.
“I entered this prison with my honor and I am also leaving with it,” he said.