The Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office launched an investigation against Seyhan Avşar, a reporter for the daily Cumhuriyet, for a news article she penned for the newspaper. She is being charged with “marking a public officer involved in counterterrorism as target” due to her article about the prosecutor of the trial against Sözcü Newspaper. The article underlines the fact that the prosecutor was convicted of a crime.
Avşar gave her statement at the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office on March 19, 2019 in response to the allegation that she “marked a public officer as a target for terrorist groups” in her reporting. Avşar denied the allegation, saying that her news story was within the limits of freedom of the press.
While the first indictment was issued with the demand of Avşar to be tried for “insult”, it was turned into the charge of ‘marking a counterterrorism official into a target”. Avşar will be tried for up to three years in prison at the Istanbul 29th High Criminal Court (7 August).
The first hearing of the trial was held on January 9, 2020. The hearing was adjourned until May 21st for the statement of Necdet Önemli, the editor-in-chief of the newspaper.
Trial to be held on May 21 was adjourned until 9 October 2020 due to the measures taken against Covid-19 pandemic (21 May).
At the hearing held on October 7, 2020, the court ruled that the case file should be sent to the İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office for the preparation of the opinion as to the accusations. The next hearing will be held on March 11, 2021 (October 7).
At the hearing on March 11, the prosecutor’s office pronounced its opinion as to the accusations and demanded that journalists Seyhan Avşar and Necdet Önemli be penalized on charge of “marking a counterterrorism official as a target.” They were given time to prepare the statements as to their accusations. The next hearing will be held on March 16 (March 11).
At the final hearing of the trial held on March 16, 2021, Seyhan Avşar and Necdet Önemli were acquitted of “marking a counterterrorism official as a target” as per the Article 6/1 of the Anti-Terror Law (TMK) over the news titled “The prosecutor of the Sözcü case has turned out to have a criminal record” dated March 2019 (March 16).