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The final hearing in the  “Özgür Gündem trial” took place on February 14 2020, ending in an acquittal for Turkish novelist Aslı Erdoğan, accused of “propaganda for a terrorist organization”.

At the time we announced that Aslı Erdoğan, Bilge Oykut and Necmiye Alpay had been acquitted while the ordeal was not yet ended for the following accused in this Kafkaesque trial: Zana Bilir, Inan Kızılkaya, Eren Keskin and Kemal Sancılı.

In hearing of her verdict of acquittal that day, Aslı had told us: “I am glad to hear it but I don’t trust them. They can start all over again at any time, as they have done for others.” Oh how right Aslı’s lawyer proved to be when he stated that “the trials have  become a full-time sentences in themselves.”

A number of intellectuals, journalists, writers, academics, defendors of human rights – some of whom have become emblematic – cannot escape from this spiral. There is no need to follow my finger in order to see this as pertains to Eren Keskin, a lawyer and activist for human rights who still stands tall in her integrity under the threat of several years in prison, and Pınar Selek, the feminist, anticapitalist and antimilitarist sociologist against whom trials, acquittals and reopening of trials have been ongoing for 20 years… To mention two names among others…

“They won’t relent”, we said… And indeed, Aslı’s verdict was contested before an expeditive local tribunal (Istinaf). And on June 10 2021, this tribunal pronounced a “unanimous” decision “in the name of the Turkish Nation”… Aslı has just recevied the document announcing the ongoing nature of her own ordeal… To summarize without the judicial jargon, here is what this document tells us (the Turkish original is here):

“According to the indictment, the articles under trial were also published on an internet platform and, in this case, article 5186 of the Law concerning the media n° 26 for crimes committed via internet, not being applicable, the tribunal reached its decision without taking these articles under consideration and without careful scrutiny, with insufficient justification. Thus the request by the Republic’s prosecutor is considered as justified and, according to articles 280/1-e and 289/1-e of the The Code of Criminal Procedure, it was unanimously decided on 10/06/2021 to annul the decision of acquittal, without consideration of other aspects, and to send the file to the district tribunal, the previous dispositions being annulled for a re-examination.”

As for Aslı Erdoğan, she tells us: “At first they put me in prison, and only then did they go searching for “evidence” for an indictment. They included in the prosecution’s file four articles for which no trials had ever been ordered. In fact, up until that point, I had never been prosecuted for any of my writings. “The journal of fascism: today” for instance, is a literary text, an inner monolog featured in my book “Le silence même n’est plus à toi” since published in French by Actes Sud. This text, which was translated in some thirty languages, was also given a stage representation.   

Then, during the proceedings, they removed two of the articles from the indictment and replaced them with two others, including “75-76” in which I write about assassinated journalists. The two articles that were added deal with freedom of the press. And, frankly, with their approach, the judiciary,   provides a concrete illustration of what these texts are about…

The re-opening of the file is a new stage in a process that has been going on for five years, and constitutes nothing other than a form of real torture.”

This relentlessness, ongoing for 5 years and in which a solidarity campaign had developed around Aslı Erdoğan and others, demonstrates how this regime uses judicial terrorism as a tool against its opponents. This being the case, as long as this will persist, our solidarity will remain indispensable!

We call on all media to echo this latest development in the judiciary actions taken against Aslı Erdoğan who is now a refugee in Europe. 


Photography ©Carole Parodi
Translation by Renée Lucie Bourges
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REDACTION | Journaliste
Chat de gouttière sans frontières. Journalisme à l'Université de Marmara. Architecture à l'Université de Mimar Sinan, Istanbul.