A shocking 66 journalists will stand trial on March 4, a few days after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan boasted on March 1 about the new judicial reform he has been previewing for the last several months.
“Nobody can be robbed of their freedoms because of a criticism or opinion," the president said in an ironic statement while revealing his new Human Rights Action Plan on March 1. Hundreds of Turkish citizens face prosecution for far-fetched charges of insulting the president.
Some 46 journalists from pro-Kurdish Dicle Haber Ajansı, Özgür Gündem, Azadiya Welat, Demokratik Modernite, and Fırat Dağıtım who were detained in 2011, will stand trial for the 20th time on March 4 on terrorism charges, often directed at affiliates of the Kurdish community.
Exiled Turkish journalist Hayko Bağdat's case will also be heard on March 4, where he will face charges over social media posts he's created that allegedly are 'terrorist propaganda,' a common accusation faced by critics of the government and the president.
Journalists Sibel Hürtaş and Hayri Demir will also face the court on March 4 in a case where they are being accused of encouraging violence and hatred in the public for reporting on the government's military activities in northern Syria's Afrin.
Journalist Oktay Candemir will be facing court in southeastern Van on March 4 on charges of insulting the president for reporting on the protests against the trustee appointments that replaced elected officials.
Journalists Arif Aslan, Rojhat Doğru and Tunahan Turhan will be in court for reporting on the same protests, while esteemed Turkish writer Ahmet Altan will be in court for the shutdown daily Taraf.
"The fact that there are so many hearings scheduled on the same day shows exactly where we are with freedom of expression and freedom of the press," said Faruk Eren, Chair of the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions of Turkey (DİSK).