Turkish journalist faces forced court appearance on insult, libel charges

Journalist Doğan Akın

A court in İstanbul has ruled that journalist Doğan Akın be brought by force to the next hearing of his trial on charges of insulting and libeling a former lawyer for the president, the Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA) reported on Thursday.

The court made the decision because Akın did not appear in court for the eighth hearing of his trial on Thursday. The decision entails use of law enforcement to forcibly bring the journalist to the next hearing so that his statement can be taken as a defendant.

The next hearing is scheduled for July 4, 2024.

Akın is the editor-in-chief of the T24 news website and is standing trial along with journalists Can Bursalı, Barış Terkoğlu, Nevzat Çiçek and Gökmen Karadağ.

The journalists are accused of insulting and slandering Mustafa Doğan İnal, a former lawyer for President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, in their coverage of allegations implicating him.

The lawyer’s name has appeared in a number of allegations including bribery and obstruction of justice. He has been accused of acting as “Erdoğan’s long arm in the judiciary.”

İnal has filed several lawsuits against the journalists, who are now facing varying jail terms.

Journalists in Turkey commonly face accusations of terrorism, insult, denigration and inciting hatred in connection with their work. Recent legislation enacted by the government has also criminalized spreading “false or misleading information.”

Many human rights groups have also reported a lack of judicial independence in the country, which was ranked 117th among 142 countries in the rule of law index published by the World Justice Project (WJP) in October, dropping one rank in comparison to last year.

Turkey is among the top jailers of journalists in the world and was ranked 165th in the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) 2023 World Press Freedom Index, among 180 countries, not far from North Korea, which occupies the bottom of the list.

Take a second to support Stockholm Center for Freedom on Patreon!
Become a patron at Patreon!