Turkish prosecutor requests lifting of journalist and MP Şık’s immunity

Photo: Evrensel daily

A Turkish prosecutor has filed a summary of proceedings requesting the lifting of the parliamentary immunity of independent deputy and journalist Ahmet Şık over remarks supporting weeks-long protests against the appointment of a loyalist as rector of Boğaziçi University in Istanbul.

The Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office submitted its request on Thursday, according to Turkish media.

The office launched an investigation on February 5 into Şık for using the Boğaziçi University protests “as a pretext for calling on people to demonstrate.” According to a statement by the prosecutor’s office, Şık called on people to demonstrate, saying that was the only way the government would fall.

Students and alumni, as well as politicians and activists, have since the beginning of January been protesting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s decision to appoint Bulu, a party loyalist and unsuccessful candidate from Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) for a seat in parliament, as the university’s rector on January 1.

The protests spread in Istanbul and other cities in February, leading to the detention of more than 600 people and some clashes with police.

Şık went to the courthouse on February 4 in solidarity with detained students where he made a public statement, saying: “No one should expect them [the government] to leave with a democratic election. You can’t fight the mafia with their laws. We need laws that are compatible with international standards.”

Speaking to the Evrensel daily following the investigation, Şık said he had called for people to exercise their citizenship rights within the framework of international human rights and participate in the struggle against the “government’s arbitrary laws.”

He added that everyone had the responsibility to challenge President Erdoğan’s regime. However, his words were interpreted as a call to riot against the government by some news websites.

“Of course, the judiciary is doing what it has been ordered to do. If they think I’m afraid of going to prison, they are wrong,” Şık said.

Şık was elected to parliament from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in 2018 but resigned from the party in May 2020. He was a journalist for several major newspapers including Cumhuriyet, Radikal and Evrensel. He was imprisoned for 15 months between December 2016 and March 2018 due to his tweets and news stories.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruled in November 2020 that Turkey had violated his right to liberty and security as well as the right to freedom of expression.

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