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As Oda TV trial drags on, one journalist freed, four others begin 16th month in detention

June 22, 2012

Reporters Without Borders is outraged that only one of the five Oda TV journalists still in detention, reporter Müyesser Ugur, was released during the 12th hearing in their trial in Istanbul on 18 June and that the other four – Oda TV owner Soner Yalçin, managing editor Baris Pehlivan, news director Baris Terkoglu and reporter Yalçin Küçük – are now beginning their 16th month in detention.

“What happened at the 12th hearing is really disturbing,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Although we welcome Ugur’s release, we are appalled by the slowness with which the court is proceeding. The time between hearings is much too long.

“These journalists have been waiting to be rendered justice for more than a year and a half, and yet the need to detain them while the trial takes place has never been demonstrated. We urge the court to release them at the next opportunity, during the monthly reexamination of the detention orders, and to accelerate the pace of the hearings.”

After rolling over the detention orders for four of the journalists, the court scheduled the next hearing for 14 September, when they will have begun their 19th month in preventive detention. They, Ugur and the five other journalists on trial are accused of collaborating with the “terrorist organization Ergenekon,” a shadowy ultranationalist network that allegedly wanted to overthrow the government.

Three of the other five – Dogan Yurdakul, Muhammet Sait Cakir and Coskun Musluk – also work for Oda TV, a news website critical of the government. Yurdakul, the site’s coordinator, was given a conditional release on 22 February on health grounds. Reporters Cakir and Musluk were released from Silivri high security prison on the northern outskirts of Istanbul on 12 March, at the same time as the other two defendants, journalists Ahmet Sik ( and Nedim Sener (Posta).

The court’s judge, Mehmet Ekinci, is still waiting for the Scientific and Technological Research Centre (TÜBITAK) to provide an expert report on the origin of files found on the defendants’ computers, which supposedly constitute the most important part of the prosecution’s evidence.

Experts at the University of the Bosphorus and at Istanbul’s Yildiz Technical University have already concluded that malware installed these files on the journalists’ computers. TÜBITAK was asked to conduct its own analysis in January. Since then, there has been no sign of its report.

The hearings continue to be accompanied by protest in support of those detained. Many journalists, including Reporters Without Borders correspondent Erol Önderoglu, staged another demonstration on 18 June in response to a call from “Freedom for the Journalists” (GÖP). They were joined by parliamentarians, the presidents of the TGS and TGC journalists’ unions and European Parliament delegates – all of whom are observing the trial.

For more information contact:
Reporters without Borders
Phone: +33 1 44 83 84 84

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