The International Press Institute (IPI) monitored the sixth hearing in the trial of journalists Can Bursalı, Barış Terkoğlu, Barış Pehlivan and Editor-in-Chief of Independent Turkish, Nevzat Çiçek. They are charged with “insult” and “calumny” following a complaint from President Erdoğan’s former lawyer, Mustafa Doğan İnal. The hearing was held on May 11, 2023 at the Istanbul 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance. Media and Legal Studies Association (MLSA) also monitored the hearing.

The charges arise from an interview between Can Bursalı and Barış Terkoğlu discussing allegations against Mustafa Doğan İnal made in the book “Metastaz 2: Cendere”, co-authored by Barış Terkoğlu and Barış Pehlivan. The interview was published by Independent Turkish on December 3, 2020. 

The indictment claims that the allegation recorded in the interview and book that Inal had received a fee of 15 million TL for representing the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality while not a permanent lawyer at the time, damaged İnal’s “honour, dignity and his reputation within the society”.

The hearing, which was scheduled to start at 11:20, started three and a half hours late due to the court’s workload. Can Bursalı, Barış Terkoğlu, Barış Pehlivan and Nevzat Çiçek did not attend the hearing but were represented by their lawyers.

The judge started proceedings by announcing that  the files from the Istanbul 49th Criminal Court of First Instance, the Istanbul 46th Criminal Court of First Instance and the Istanbul 14th Criminal Court of First Instance were to be combined with the existing file.

Lawyer, Mehmet Ruşen Gültekin, representing Barış Terkoğlu and Barış Pehlivan, demanded their acquittal, stating that his clients were journalists, and that their reporting of criminal matters was a purely journalistic activity.

Journalist Nevzat Çiçek’s lawyer, Ersin Tezcan, also demanded acquittal, claiming that his client had no criminal responsibility since he was the editor-in-chief.

Melike Polat Bursalı, the lawyer for Can Bursalı, stated that they will present their comprehensive defense once the case file has been completed and the expert opinion on the substance of the case is presented.

After the prosecutor demanded the missing elements of the file be completed, the judge  adjourned the case until November 2, 2023.

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.