A 2017 court ruling that convicted two journalists over a news article that allegedly insulted Turkish state institutions was revoked five years later by the Turkish Court of Cassation, daily Evrensel reported on Wednesday.
Çağrı Sarı and Arif Koşar, respectively the executive editor and publisher of Evrensel, had been found guilty in an Istanbul court on 6 June 2017 for publishing an article titled, ‘Police opened fire on people in Nusaybin: Three injured’ a year earlier.
The two were sentenced to prison terms of five months for violating article 301 of the Turkish penal code that involved offences of insult against Turkey, the Turkish nation, the Turkish state institutions, or Turkish national figures of historical significance like the Turkish Republic’s founder Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.
Devrim Avcı, a lawyer for Evrensel, said that although the decision by the Court of Cassation would serve in favour of freedom of expression in the particular case, it didn’t mean that similar violations could always be prevented through appeals processes.
Noting that many people were killed in the same region at the time the news article in question was published, Çağrı Sarı said that according to a United Nations report, 2,000 were killed within 18 months during the military operations of state forces in Kurdish-majority provinces.
“We’d faced court and were convicted for having published a news article. Now our rightfulness has been confirmed after our objections. But the legal process has taken five years. The justice has been served with delay, but journalism won in the end (…) We’re always behind what we’d said in our defence, and no punishment can stop our journalism.”