Up to 5-year prison terms sought for journalist Oruç

The Turkish regime’s attacks against the Kurdish press continue increasingly as Turkey maintains its position as the largest prison for journalists.

Kurdish journalist Aziz Oruç was detained on 11 December in Doğubayazıt district of Ağrı and called a "terrorist" by the Ministry of Interior. He was detained for more than a week and then transferred to Doğubayazıt Magistrates' Court.

The court remanded him in custody on charges of "being a member of an illegal organization".

The Kurdish journalist had been working in Southern Kurdistan for about 3 years due to the lawsuits filed against him in Turkey. Oruç, who tried to go to Europe via Iran, was detained at the border crossing and subjected to violence by the Armenian police. Oruç was then handed over to Iran and tortured by the Iranian intelligence for two days.

The Kurdish journalist was left to die on the night of December 10 on the Turkish side of the border. He was barefoot and naked. He was taken into custody along with HDP Dogubayazit District co-chair Abdullah Ekelek, who was accused of helping him.

Muhammet Ikram Müftüoğlu, who was taken into custody on the same day after police raided his house and workplace, was arrested together with HDP District chair Ekelek on charges of "helping and abetting" Oruç.

Oruç stands trial at Diyarbakır 9th Heavy Penal Court over his social media posts from the past. He is accused of “spreading terrorist propaganda”. The 9th hearing in his trial was held on Wednesday.

The journalist attended the hearing from the Patnos L Type Prison where he is held, via video-conferencing system SEGBIS. 

Oruş said his Twitter posts only included news articles published by the now closed Dicle News Agency (DIHA) in 2014-1015, most of which had been written by him himself.

“All those news are published in the scope of information, not propaganda,” he said and continued; “Why are those social media posts treated as a crime now but not back then? I am a journalist and demand my acquittal,” he stated.

His lawyer Ferhat Kılınç pointed out that the accusation in question did not constitute a crime as per the new legal regulation and demanded the acquittal of his client.

While the prosecution requested up to 5 year in prison basing on the anti-terror law, lawyer Kılınç asked for time for a detailed defence against the opinion.

The court therewith postponed the hearing to March 3rd.