On February 21, 2023, a representative of the International Press Institute (IPI) attended and monitored the trial of journalist Mansur Çelik at the Ankara 14th High Criminal Court as part of IPI’s Turkey trial monitoring programme. Alongside IPI, Çelik’s trial was also attended by representatives from the Journalists’ Union of Turkey (TGS), Association of Journalists (GC), Progressive Journalists Association (ÇGD), Turkish Journalists’ Association (TGC), Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA), several Members of Parliament from the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and other civil society representatives and journalists.
Çelik, the editor-in-chief of ANKA News Agency, is facing criminal charges of “identifying officials on anti-terror duties as targets” for his news report covering the non-compliance of the Istanbul 14th High Criminal Court’s ruling with the Constitutional Court’s decision regarding Enis Berberoğlu. The court in question was at the time headed by Akın Gürlek, the current Deputy Minister of Justice.
Çelik’s court proceedings began with a delay of 25 minutes and at least 10 people, including the IPI representative, were denied entry to the courtroom due to limited space. Colleagues who were able to enter the courtroom reported that Çelik was questioned by court officials about the production of the news article including the composition of the headlines.
The court opted to proceed with the trial and scheduled the next hearing for June 6, 2023. Despite the Prosecutor’s request to lift the judicial control requirement imposed on Çelik, the court ruled that the prohibition on traveling abroad would remain in place.
Çelik told IPI that his prosecution for a news article, that would have been deemed typical journalistic reporting 26 years ago, reflects the current state of freedom of the press in Turkey. “In spite of this, I am a journalist, and I will continue to do my job,” Çelik said, speaking from his news bureau.
IPI will continue to monitor journalism in Turkey on trial and to call for the Turkish state authorities to comply with their international and domestic legal obligations.
For IPI’s previous trial observations, please click here.