International observer denounces Turkey’s "show trials"

By Jane Whyatt

In a court room inside Istanbul’s Silivri prison two hearings have been held of journalists accused of “supporting terrorism“ this week, as in supporting the former AKP associate Fetö, now fallen from grace.

Silivri prison Silivri prison outside Istanbul (photo: CeeGee, SilivriPrison02, CC BY-SA 4.0)

International observers including Georgia Nash of London-based human rights campaign Article 19 were present at the hearings. She told ECPMF: Both cases were inconclusive. The journalists  and media workers must remain in detention, and none of them was granted their request to be allowed more time with their lawyers. They get one hour a week. Article 19 has denounced the whole process as “show trials“.

Writer Ahmet Altan and his brother Mehmet, who are accused of sending “subliminal messsages“ in support of the coup attempt, appeared in court again. Ahmet Altan, the former editor-in-chief of "Taraf" newspaper, is a laureate of the "Preis für die Freiheit und Zukunft der Medien" (Leipzig price for the freedom and future of media). He won the prestigious award from the Media Foundation of the Sparkasse Leipzig in 2009. He and his brother, and co-accused journalist Nazlı Ilıcak, face possible life sentences.

In the other trial that resumed in the fourth week of September, thirty one former employees of the daily newspaper “Zaman“ are involved. It was closed down in 2016.

Who is standing trial:

– Ahmet Metin Sekizkardeş, Ahmet Turan Alkan, Alaattin Güner, Ali Bulaç, Cuma Kaya, Faruk Akkan, Hakan Taşdelen, Hüseyin Belli, Hüseyin Turan, İbrahim Karayeğen, İsmail Küçük, Mehmet Özdemir, Murat Avcıoğlu, Mustafa Ünal, Mümtazer Türköne, Onur Kutlu, Sedat Yetişkin, Şahin Alpay, Şeref Yılmaz, Yüksel Durgut, Zafer Özsoy, Adil Gülçek and İhsan Duran Dağı are in detention on remand standing trial.

– Ahmet İrem, Ali Hüseyinçelebi, Süleyman Sargın, Osman Nuri Arslan, Osman Nuri Öztürk, Lale Kemal (Lalezar Sarıibrahimoğlu), Nuriye Ural, Orhan Kemal Cengiz are standing trial without arrest. There is an order to take İhsan Duran Dağı forcibly to testify.


The defendants are being charged with "attempting to annihilate the constitutional order", "attempting to overthrow the Grand National Assembly of the Republic of Turkey or to deter it from carrying out its duties", "attempting to overthrow the Government of the Republic of Turkey or to deter it from carrying out its duties", "being a member of an armed terrorist organization". In accordance with the above mentioned charges, the defendants face three aggravated life imprisonments and 15 years in prison each.

Turkey's crackdown on media freedom

Teaser Turkey

For years now, Turkey has been imprisoning more journalists than any other country in the world. Since the alleged coup in 2016 the numbers are even rising. Worse still, the Turkish regime targets critical journalists even outside its own country.