Özgür Gündem Trial: “We will never give up our struggle for humanity”
Şebnem Korur Fincancı, Erol Önderoglu and Ahmet Nesin face a re-trial in the Özgür Gündem case after being acquitted on charges of membership in a terrorist organization in July 2019.
The hearing in the case against participants of the Editor in Chief on Watch campaign to show solidarity with the Özgür Gündem newspaper after it was shut down by a Statutory Decree (KHK) was held in Istanbul today.
Human Rights Foundation Turkey (TIHV) Chairperson and Turkish Medical Association (TTB) Central Council President Dr. Şebnem Korur Fincancı, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) Turkey Representative Erol Önderoglu and journalist-writer Ahmet Nesin face a re-trial in the case after being acquitted on charges of membership in a terrorist organization in July 2019 in connection with their work for the pro-Kurdish daily newspaper Özgür Gündem.
The Human Rights Foundation of Turkey made a press statement in front of the Çağlayan Courthouse before today’s hearing. Fincancı, Önderoğlu, TTB, TIHV executives and members of the Human Rights Association (IHD) Istanbul Branch, as well as representatives of the RSF and its British and German sections, Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) Deputy Musa Piroğlu, head of the Confederation of Public Workers’ Unions (KESK) Mehmet Bozgeyik and representatives of human rights organizations and activists attended the press briefing.
'UNTIL SPEECH IS FREE...'
“We are struggling to have a voice and to be human. We are fighting for human values, and we will never give up this fight. While the burning and bombing of the Özgür Gündem newspaper and the murder of its employees were not investigated in this country, supporting the newspaper became the subject of an investigation and even resulted in arrests. The crime they claim we committed is a ‘crime of solidarity’. We have the will to continue this struggle until speech is free in this land,” Fincancı said.
'CASE REOPENED AFTER ERDOĞAN'S REACTION'
Reminding that they had been acquitted in the same case before, Erol Önderoğlu, the RSF Turkey Representative, recalled that the case was overturned and returned from the Court of Appeal after the Turkish Medical Association’s warnings about the Covid-19 outbreak were met with reaction by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Önderoğlu said that they do not expect an acquittal in the case. “It is very difficult to expect acquittal given the dependency of the judiciary in Turkey, because there is a legal ground open to intervention. We may be convicted in this case, but we will continue our activities to make sure that Turkey has a transparent media. Because a large part of society is aware of our just struggle, so we will continue our struggle.”
TTB Secretary General Vedat Bulut said that they are following this case for the freedom of the press.
TIHV Secretary General Coşkun Üsterci remarked that Fincancı, Önderoğlu and Nesin were prosecuted because they promoted freedom of the press and the people's right to receive information. Üsterci expressed that Özgür Gündem was subjected to judicial harassment, for which very reason it received this solidarity.
The hearing at the 13th High Criminal Court was attended by Fincancı and Önderoğlu, as well as their lawyers, while Ahmet Nesin was unable to attend because he was abroad.
Önderoğlu and Fincancı, who took the floor during the hearing that began with identification, stated that they repeated their previous statements.
The court decided to send instructions to locations in other countries in order to take Ahmet Nesin's defence, who did not attend the hearing. The court ruled that journalist İnan Kızılkaya, who missed the hearing because he was infected with coronavirus, should be present at the next hearing.
The hearing was postponed until February 1, 2022.