The indictment against Kurdish journalist Dicle Müftüoğlu reads like a stamp of approval for her journalistic work, except for two secret witness testimonies accusing her of terrorism, Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA) Co-director Veysel Ok told Mezopotamya Agency on Friday following the most recent hearing of the case against the Dicle Fırat Journalists Association (DFG) co-chair.
Such testimonies are included in cases “because they need these to prolong arrest as long as possible”, Ok said.
“Without the testimonies, the indictment reads like a stamp of approval for journalism.”
One of the secret witness testimonies against Müftüoğlu accused her of being a high-ranking member of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an armed organisation Turkey designates as terrorist, over her “close relations with women’s organisations in Diyarbakır”, Yeni Yaşam newspaper reported ahead of the trial.
The prosecution argued that the journalist “appears to be conducting activities as part of the PKK’s Ideological Centre in light of the PKK’s ideology and orders, while using her social life as a cover for herself and keeping secrecy”.
Evidence against Müftüoğlu includes a visit to Iraqi Kurdistan, which happened in 2017 to follow developments with the independence referendum held in the semi-autonomous region but is cited in the indictment as having happened in 2014.
According to Müftüoğlu’s lawyers, one of the secret witnesses had admitted to “working for the state” during his interrogation in capital Ankara. “This can mean two things: The witness was either used as an agent provocateur, which is illegal, or was a member of security forces as a secret investigator. Both possibilities showcase why the testimony is inadmissible,” daily Evrensel quoted lawyer Resul Temur as saying.
Secret witness testimonies that have shaped the course of the trial so far “are geared towards saving the witnesses themselves”, Ok said.
“These people have cases against them. They slander journalists and activists in order to get out of them.”
Müftüoğlu has been awaiting trial under arrest for the last seven months, and will remain behind bars until 18 January when the next hearing will be held.
During Thursday’s hearing, the judges announced their decision to continue arrest for the DFG co-chair after the prosecution submitted a request for arrest, but before Müftüoğlu could speak or her lawyers present their counterarguments, Ok added.
“This is the first time I am seeing this in all my years dealing with the law. Maybe in the history of law itself. The arrest was issued before lawyers or the defendant herself could present a defence,” Ok said. “This was a most important hearing where judges showed such little knowledge of the law.”
Dicle Müftüoğlu “should have been rewarded for her good journalism, but we see that the decision was made beforehand and she will remain under arrest”, he added.
Müftüoğlu’s colleague Sedat Yılmaz is another journalist behind bars, and will face a judge on 14 December. “Sedat is no different than Dicle,” Ok said. “Other than his professional activity, trips he has made for work, and an informant, there is no evidence against him either.”
“Our demand from the Justice Ministry is that they appoint judges who know about the case,” he concluded.
“As a woman and a journalist, Dicle has never bowed down, always working for the people. We will continue to defend journalism against this injustice, because journalism is not a crime,” Mezopotamya Women Journalists Association Roza Metina said in a demonstration after the hearing.
“The decision to continue arrest shows that this is a politically motivated case,” Peoples’ Equality and Democracy Party (HEDEP) MP Saliha Aydeniz said.
“Those who bombed Özgür Ülke newspaper 30 years ago now attack the Kurdish people and women in any way they can, but they cannot break their will with oppression or arrest!”