On May 21, 2021, International Press Institute (IPI) Turkey National Committee member İpek Yezdani monitored the second hearing of the trial against journalist Melis Alphan. Alphan was accused of “spreading terror propaganda” over a photo that she posted on social media of the 2015 Newroz celebrations in Turkey’s southeastern province of Diyarbakır. Alphan was facing up to seven and a half years in prison.

IPI called on Turkey to drop all charges against her ahead of the hearing.

The second hearing of the trial took place at the Istanbul 32nd Heavy Penal Court. Several lawmakers from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), journalists and human rights advocates including IPI representative Yezdani were at the courtroom to show their support for Alphan.

During the trial, Alphan and her lawyers once again called for her acquittal.

“Melis Alphan is wanted to be punished just because she shared a visual photo [on social media] which was broadcasted by the state-run TV channel TRT and published by mainstream newspapers such as Hürriyet and Sabah. Her sharing of this photo has not constituted any crime. There is also no element or call for violence [in her post]. These charges should have never been pressed at the first place”, Alphan’s lawyer, Ali Deniz Ceylan, told the court.

The court declined the prosecutor’s request for Alphan be sentenced to seven and a half years in prison and acquitted the journalist of the charges of “spreading terrorist propaganda”.

Alphan shared the ruling on her social media account, saying: “I have been acquitted. I am very happy. I thank my beloved friends and colleagues who have stood by me and everyone who has supported me.”