The president of the Contemporary Journalists Association (ÇGD), Ahmet Abakay, criticized the opening of trials against journalists on the grounds of "violating the secrecy" of the Ergenekon Investigation. According to Abakay, those trials are not legal and not even legitimate.
The Ergenekon Investigation into the clandestine terrorist organization charged with various crimes staged for the ultimate purpose of triggering a military coup was launched on 12 June 2007. Ever since, journalists are being tried under charges of "violating the secrecy of an investigation" or "attempting to influence a fair trial" because they reported about documents and statements of the case.
The most recent lawsuit was filed against former Akşam newspaper editor Semra Pelek and the daily's editorial manager, Mustafa Dolu. Abakay criticized the opening of the new trial. He talked to bianet and pointed out that trials are launched against journalists who just fulfil their duty of informing the public.
Akşam newspaper sued
Former Air Force Commander retired Gen. İbrahim Fırtına opened a trial against Pelek and Dolu because of a news item about Fırtına's statement given to the prosecutor in the scope of the Ergenekon investigation.
After previous trials were launched against İsmail Saymaz, Serkan Ocak and Ertan Kılıç on the grounds of reporting about the Ergenekon investigation and related hearings, now Pelek and Dolu are facing heavy prison sentences as well.
Pelek, currently editor at bianet, will be prosecuted because she edited the news article entitled "Questions to Fırtına from Aydın Doğan, Rahmi Koç and Akçakoca" published on 5 January 2010. The article was continued on page 16 of the same issue under the heading "I reject, I curse".
Facing eight years imprisonment
The first hearing of the case is scheduled for 1 November at the Bakırköy 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance.
According to the indictment dd. 1 March, Public prosecutor Pircan Barut Emre demands the prosecution of both journalists under article 285 of the Turkish Criminal Code (TCK) related to the "violation of the secrecy of an investigation" and TCK article 288 on the "attempt of affecting a fair judicial process". Thus, Pelek and Dolu are each facing prison sentences of up to eight years.
Journalists sued for reporting politicians' words
ÇGD president Abakay argued, "I find this kind of trials contrary to the universal press principles. There is nothing left that has not been said already considering the allegations related to the Ergenekon organization. The Prime Minister talked, he became the prosecutor, the main opposition became the lawyer. They said everything that could come to mind. The politicians did not become subject of investigations into influencing a trial or violating an investigation, whereas journalists are taken to court for publishing just what these politicians said".
"Investigative journalism does not recognize secrecy
Abakay emphasized that he did not agree with the principle of the secrecy of information. "It is the duty of a journalist to attract the public's interest and to reveal hidden things. This is investigative journalism. There is no secrecy where two people are together, it will definitely come to light. One example is the Watergate affair which overthrew the US government and it was the truth. The public was informed".
"They even investigated the ones that wrote the Ergenekon indictment. Such a thing was never seen before. If these news had been written by any of the EU countries, one ouf our colleagues would have been prosecuted. If we care about the democratic world and if we want to be a democratic country, these trials have to be dropped", Abakay said. (EÖ/VK)
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