- Three journalists from daily BirGün face up to four years in prison on charges of “insulting the Turkish president” while a columnist from daily Taraf has testified on the same charge.
BirGün coordinator Barış İnce, Editor-in-Chief Berkant Gültekin and managing editor Can Uğur face up to four years in prison for allegedly insulting Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan in a news story on the front page of the daily's Feb. 17 issue.
İnce, Gültekin and Uğur, the defendants on trial without arrest, appeared in court in Istanbul on Dec. 1.
Among those who watched the court hearing were Republican People's Party (CHP) deputies Ali Şeker, Aykut Erdoğdu, Mahmut Tanal and Eren Erdem, Freedom and Solidarity Party (ÖDP) co-chair Alper Taş, daily Cumhuriyet columnist Ceyda Karan, as well as many other journalists.
“Two colleague of mine, Can Dündar and Erdem Gül, were here in this building last week. I'm sending them my warm greetings,” İnce said, speaking in the court hearing in the Istanbul Courthouse in Çağlayan.
Dündar and Gül were arrested on terrorism charges due to coverage of a story on trucks that were bound for Syria with weapons. The trucks were reportedly owned by the Turkish National Intelligence Organization (MİT), Turkey's state intelligence agency.
“We are not able to do our job because of legal affairs such as testifying and being tried,” Gültekin said at a press conference after the court hearing on Dec. 1.
Dozens of lawsuits have been filed against journalists in Turkey for allegedly insulting Erdoğan, while dozens of others have been sued on terrorism charges.
Former Taraf columnist Hayko Bağdat, meanwhile, gave testimony on Dec. 1 as part of a criminal investigation launched into an article published in the daily on Oct. 3 that allegedly included insulting statements against Erdoğan.