Turkish prosecutor restricts access to judicial file of arrested documentary filmmaker

Access to the judicial file of documentary filmmaker and journalist Sibel Tekin, who was arrested on December 18 in Ankara on charges of terrorism, was restricted by the relevant prosecutor, the Diken news website reported.

Tekin’s lawyer, Mehtap Sakinci Coşgun, said she requested a copy of the file on the arrest warrant but learned that Tekin’s file had been restricted by the prosecutor’s office.

Tekin was detained following a complaint by law enforcement on allegations that she deliberately filmed a police car while shooting videos for her new project about daylight saving time in Turkey.

The İstanbul-based Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA) announced in a statement on Saturday that Tekin was arrested on charges of terrorist organization membership and taken to Sincan Prison in Ankara. However, it was not clear which terrorist organization was she an alleged member of, MLSA said.

According to the Code on Criminal Procedure (CMK), the ability of the defense to inspect the content of files may be restricted by a judicial decision at the prosecution’s request if doing so could jeopardize the purpose of the investigation. This decision can only be made in the case of serious criminal offenses such as premeditated murder, sexual assault and the formation of a criminal organization.

Coşgun said they wanted to submit expert opinions on the file but were denied the opportunity to do so. She also said they were not told the reason for the decision to restrict.

Turkey, which is one of the top jailers of journalists in the world, was ranked 149th among 180 countries in the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) 2022 World Press Freedom Index, released in early May.

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