14 June 2017 08:32

Evrensel correspondent Polat acquitted, Uğur sentenced under caution

Evrensel correspondent Halil İbrahim Polat acquitted; Cemil Uğur sentenced under caution to 1 year and 6 months, reduced to 1 year 3 months.


Volkan PEKAL

Evrensel correspondents Cemil Uğur and Halil İbrahim Polat, had their hearings held on Tuesday. They were detained and charged with being “members of an armed terrorist organisation and propagating” while on duty. Halil İbrahim Polat acquitted. Cemil Uğur sentenced, under caution to 1 year and 6 months, reduced to 1 year 3 months.

They were detained in the city of Mersin while reporting and it was claimed they were members of an armed terrorist organisation, without any concrete evidence against them. 

While both correspondents have been acquitted of being members of a terrorist organisation, Cemil Uğur sentenced to 1 year 6 months due to his Facebook posts. Uğur sentenced to 1 year under the claims of “propagating for a terrorist organisation” However since the claimed crime was committed on Facebook, considered to be published media, this charge increased to 1 year 6 months. The sentence later reduced to 1 year 3 months for cooperation on Uğur’s part. The sentence has been deferred. 


Defending lawyer Tugay Bek stated that the posts shared were photos of Sakine Cansız, Leyla Şaylemez and Fidan Doğan, all of whom were Kurdish women activists assassinated in Paris. Since the posts did not praise or encourage coercion, violence or threat, the claimed crime of propaganda had not been committed. Furthermore, the judge’s decision was solely based on imagery and photography.

Two police officers that gave statements at the hearing confirmed that our correspondents were not part of the protest. Furthermore, the officers stated that security vehicles had fixed cameras and therefore there would be video recordings of the protest. 

Commenting on the case, Tugay Bek, stated that no video evidence was submitted to the court with the security forces reporting “no recordings” available. Lawyer Bek said that such evidence would have challenged the prosecutor’s claim of defendants being party to the protest and hence been withheld. Based on the evidence given by the police officers, Tugay Bek stated that there is evidence the security forces tried to coerce the court, therefore a criminal complaint will be filed against the security forces for coercion and abuse of power. Additionally, lawyer Bek stated that it has become common practice to investigate social media posts of all arrested; “terror’ operations carried out by police often end up with individuals being criminalised for political criticism. Individuals are routinely charged for insulting the President or for “propagating terror.”