IPI monitored the eighth hearing of the trial in which Vedat Arık, Olcay Büyüktaş, Hazal Ocak and İpek Özbey face charges of “identifying state officials on anti-terror duties as targets” and “violation of privacy” that was held in the Istanbul 26th High Criminal Court on April 5, 2023.

The evidence for the above charges was presented by the prosecutor as a Cumhuriyet news report titled “IIlegal Construction at the Bosphorus”. Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office had launched an investigation into the report where the Presidency’s Director of Communications, Fahrettin Altun’s residential address and photo were used on the ground that he was “identified as a target to terrorist organizations.” The hearing was not attended by Altun’s lawyers.

The newly assigned prosecutor to the case requested additional time to review the case file and the court adjourned the trial until July 7, 2023.

The author of the news report Hazal Ocak told IPI: “We should not have been tried by the high criminal court in the first place if the aim was not to intimidate us and other journalists.

We keep coming to the hearings, but the plaintiff or his legal representatives do not show up. The hearings started in 2020. The aim of the trials is to keep the walls of invisibility and impunity high and untouched. Thanks to all these investigations, I can hardly find the time to do my job and report the news.

İpek Özbey, who was then the Managing Editor of Cumhuriyet, commented: “I fulfilled my professional duty to confirm the source and then published the piece that serves as the basis of the criminal investigation. It was pure journalistic work and has nothing to do with terrorism since the Presidency’s Director of Communications does not have a mandate to combat terrorism.”

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.