The court case of Milliyet newspaper's journalist Nedim Şener began at Istanbul's 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance on Wednesday, 10 June.
Şener is the author of a book entitled "The Dink Murder and Intelligence Lies". In the book, he writes about the negligence and attempts to cover up this negligence of gendarmerie, police and the Turkish secret service prior to the murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink in 2007.
Şener now faces a trial, without detention, because of the book. He attended the hearing with lawyer Yücel Döşemeci.
Milliyet newspaper's editor-in-chief Sedat Ergin also attended the hearing in support of the journalist.
Following the publication of the book, several police officers who filed criminal complaints against the writer: Ramazan Akyürek, then Chief of Police in Trabzon and still in office as Police Intelligence Unit Chief, Ali Fuat Yılmazer, then Police Intelligence C Unit Manager and now Istanbul Intelligence Unit Chief and Muhittin Zenit, the police officer who was responsible for police informant Erhan Tuncel, who is now accused of encouraging Ogün Samast to kill Hrant Dink.
Another complaint was filed by Faruk Sarı, Trabzon Police Intelligence Branch Manager.
28 years demanded
All in all, Şener faces 28 years imprisonment. He stands accused of "targeting people involved in anti-terrorism campaigns, revealing classified information, obtaining classified information, violating the secrecy of these communications, and attempting to influence the judiciary."
In his defense, Şener said that he had not attempted to influence the judiciary, but had only tried to contribute to justice being done.
He added that there could be no question of him violating secrecy; a simple Internet search would allow anyone to find the conversations between police informant Erhan Tuncel and police officer Muhittin Zenit. Furthermore, these conversations had been published in the media long before his book was written.
Media faces increase in oppression
The International Press Institute's National Committee published a statement in connection with Şener's trial, saying that the demand for 28 years imprisonment showed the increase in oppression of the media in Turkey.
The committee said that last year's amendments to the controversial Law 301, which penalises the "denigration of the Turkish state or state organs", were insufficient:
"Despite all our objections, the Turkish Penal Code, the Press Law and the Anti-Terrorism Law still contains articles which threaten the freedom of expression and press freedom."
Urgent need for new legislation
The committee further drew attention to the fact that not even Ogün Samast, the young man suspected of killing Hrant Dink, is facing such a steep sentence.
They called on urgent changes to the current legislation, which threatens journalists with imprisonment.
The Turkey Journalists' Society (TGC) emphasised that Şener was being tried in two cases, saying:
"For freedom of expression to be protected and provided, first of all mentalities must change. This becomes clear with every case that goes to court. The laws which allow the trial of not only Şener but all journalists must be reconsidered from all dimensions."
The society called on everyone to lobby for a change in legislation. (EÖ/AG)
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