16 July 2019:
The Bakırköy Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office has launched a new investigation against journalist Necla Demir, the former publisher of the online news portal Gazete Karınca. The allegation in the new investigation file is “incitement to hatred and animosity.”
The investigation was launched upon an anonymous tip filed with the Presidency’s Communication Center (CIMER). The prosecutor’s office asked for a report from law enforcement for the new investigation. The police report focuses on online news stories Gazete Karınca published on 18 March 2019. The news item about a previous investigation against Demir, in which she was accused of “successively disseminating propaganda for a terrorist group,” was also among the news items listed as probable grounds for the accusation in the police report.
Demir gave her statement at the Bakırköy Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office on 16 July 2019 as part of the new investigation. The prosecutor referred her to a Criminal Judgeship of Peace, requesting the judgeship to impose on Demir an international travel ban and other judicial control measures. The judgeship ruled that Demir did not have any intent of committing a crime and her actions were aimed at informing the public and rejected the prosecutor’s request.
The second hearing in the trial of Necla Demir, the former publisher of the online newspaper Gazete Karınca, took place on 11 July 2019 at the 33rd High Criminal Court of Istanbul.
Demir stands accused of “systematically disseminating propaganda for a terrorist organization” for the website’s coverage of Turkey’s 2018 military operation on Syria’s Afrin.
P24 monitored the hearing, where Demir was absent but her lawyer Sercan Korkmaz was in attendance. The presiding judge announced that the defense statements presented during the previous courtroom hearing were recorded via video-conferencing system SEGBİS but the tapes have yet to be transcribed.
Lawyer Korkmaz informed the court that his client would be in attendance at the next hearing to make her defense statement in person. Issuing its interim ruling at the end of the hearing, the court adjourned the trial until 11 October 2019 for the delivery of Demir’s defense statement.
A court in Istanbul has accepted the indictment, which says Gazete Karınca has been "making continuous propaganda for a terrorist organisation," the accused news site reported on Friday.
The charges against Demir and Gazete Karınca are principally based on the news site's reports and interviews published in the period when the Turkish Armed Forces declared a cross-border operation in Afrin, a north-west Syrian enclave formerly controlled by Syrian Kurdish groups, on Jan. 20, 2018.
The indictment cited three news reports published on the news site titled as evidence of a crime. One of the news items reported that hospitals in Afrin had gone over capacity during the Turkish military operation, another dealt with the day attacks by Turkish forces reached the town centre. A third attributed the motivation behind the attacks to “the 1915 mindset,” referring to the year of the Armenian genocide, when Ottoman forces drove the empire’s Armenian minority out of the country, killing over a million in the process.
"The news site published reports praising an armed terrorist organisation's actions containing violence, force and threats," the indictment said of the news pieces.
Besides its Afrin reports, several news items by Gazete Karınca covering Turkey's air strikes in the Iraqi Kurdistan region also featured in the indictment.
Turkish authorities have interrogated Demir, who has rejected all accusations.
Demir said the reports the news site released were within the scope of freedom of expression and press and the right to information.
The indictment claims Gazete Karınca's reports were "one-sided and accused Turkish Armed Forces of the occupation of Afrin as well as torture and massacre of civilians."
"In this manner, (Gazete Karınca) elaborated to report on behalf of the PKK/KCK (Kurdistan Workers' Party and its political wing), and its Syrian offshoot the PYD/YPG (Democratic Union Party and its military wing)," the indictment said.
Turkey has stepped up a crackdown on dissent since the military entered Syria in January 2018, and has drawn widespread criticism from human rights groups and statements of concern from the European Union and the United States.
The country has a large Kurdish minority, many of whom see the operation in Afrin as an attack on the movement for Kurdish self-determination and democratic representation in the wider region, including southeastern Turkey. Hundreds of people who protested against the Afrin offensive were detained. *