The 4th trial of the Mesopotamia News Agency (MA) reporters Adnan Bilir, Cemil Uğur, Zeynep Durgut, Jinnews correspondent Şehriban Abi and freelance journalist Nazan Sala accused of ‘membership of a terrorist organisation’ after reporting about the torture of Kurdish villagers, Servet Turgut and Osman Şiban by Turkish soldiers, was held today, 6 January.
Two villagers, Servet Turgut and Osman Şiban from the Kurdish-majority province of Van (Wan) were beaten almost to death by a large group of soldiers after they were dragged from a military helicopter. MA released the photos of Osman Şiban, with marks suggesting severe torture, on 17 September 2020. Servet Turgut died after 17 days of treatment in an intensive care unit on 30 September.
Journalists Bilir, Uğur, Abi and Sala were arrested and have been held behind bars for six months after reporting about the torture while Durgut was released soon after she was detained.
Adnan Bilir, Cemil Uğur and Nazan Sala and their lawyers were present at the hearing at the Van 5th Criminal Court, while the other journalists did not attend, giving excuses, MA reported.
Acquittal of membership
The prosecutor of the hearing presented the final opinion during the trial and demanded the journalists’ acquittal on the charges of “membership of a terrorist organisation”.
However freelance journalist Nazan Sala was sentenced to 1 year and 3 months in prison for spreading “propaganda for the terrorist organisation”.
Sala was tried for reporting for the Kurdish news station, Roj TV and also for the social media posts that she was tagged in. An investigation was launched against her in 2007, but merged with the current case file.
Nazan Sala demanding her acquittal for all charges said:
“It is important to note the dates in the indictment. The alleged offence dates back to 2007. I was a freelance journalist in Van at the time. I was reporting when I got a call from all networks. I mean, I was a journalist. I have no organic connection to the television station mentioned in the indictment. While working as a freelance journalist, the TV channels were calling me. I was also joining to the TRT (state channel) broadcasts.”
She also added that she did not post the social media messages herself but she was tagged by other people.
However, the court board has ruled that all journalists shall be acquitted of “membership of a terrorist organisation” but Sala has been given a suspended prison sentence for “propaganda”.