Istanbul 20th High Criminal Court resumed the 20th hearing of MLKP case this morning with journalist Füsun Erdoğan and 23 other defendants, where no pending trial order was issued. However, a verdict might be reached on the next hearing, which will be held on October 30.
Jailed for 8 years, journalist Füsun Erdoğan stood trial in the MLKP case this morning at Istanbul 20th High Criminal Court. While no pending trial order was issued, a verdict might be reached on the next hearing, which will be held on October 30.
Most defendants are accused of “illegal organizations leadership”. The court issued defense addendum for 12 defendants who are also charged with “illegal organization membership”.
The hearing was observed by several notable people from journalist associations including Kadri Gürsel (Press Institute Association President and Freedom to Journalists Platform Spokesperson), Turgay Olcayto (Journalist Association of Turkey President), Esben Ørberg (European Federation of Journalists), Mehmet Ülger (Journalists Union of Holland), Erol Önderoğlu (Reporters Sans Frontiers Turkey Representative). “She contributed to the future of the society”
Speaking at a press conference prior to the hearing, EFJ Representative Ørberg reminded that Füsun Erdoğan’s only crime was to use her democratic right to organize, speak up and write.
“She was not a threat to the society in Turkey. She contributed to the future of the society. She can’t be considered as guilty in the eyes of us and journalist associations. The government must respect press freedom. We are demanding her freedom after years of arrest.”
Long arrest periods
The hearing took place in an environment where police and gendarmerie built a flesh wall between defendants and audience.
Defendants lawyers reminded the court panel of the long arrest periods, reiterating demands for release.
Court panel judge Ömer Diken also expressed his dissatisfaction with long arrest periods.
“The evidence is fabricated,” defense lawyer Sarısoy said.
“Even if the court admits those as evidence, Erdoğan’s long arrest period can outnumber the amount of her sentence for ‘illegal organization membership’”.
Füsun Erdoğan: I feel like a hostage
Claiming that the prosecutor’s opinion was drafted in “copy-paste” fashion, Erdoğan requested an investigation on how those documents were were produced – especially on whose computers.
“You are not standing trial for your journalism activity,” a judge said in one of hearings.
“My husband and I are not standing trial for journalism activities. We are standing trial because our names were attached to the indictment,” she said.
She also added that she was feeling like a hostage as she had no concrete evidence left out after the re-arrest of her husband – who was previously released.
Following a speech by jailed defendant Seyfi Polat, the court ordered an interval and rescheduled the trial with a written statement.
Journalists on trial
The MLKP trial dates back to September 2006 with its 23 defendants – 9 are currently jailed.
Among defendants included Füsun Erdoğan (Former General Coordinator of Özgür Radyo), Sedat Şenoğlu (Atılım Newspaper Editor-in-Chief) and Bayram Namaz (Atılım Newpaper columnist).
On June 4, chief prosecutor Hüseyin Kaplan charged Füsun Erdoğan and other 12 defendants with life sentences. Others were charged with prison sentence between 7.5 to 45 years. All defendants are being accused of “Marxist Leninist Communist Party (MLKP) membership”.