April 16, 2024

16.04.2024 – Turkish Journalist Cleared After 16-Year Legal Battle

After a protracted legal battle spanning 16 years, Turkish journalist Hacı Boğatekin has been acquitted by the 1st High Criminal Court in his home town Adıyaman, Türkiye / Turkey following an order by the Turkish Supreme Court of Appeals.

Boğatekin’s ordeal began with the publication of his article titled “FETÖ and Apo” in the Gerger Fırat (https://www.gergerfirat.com.tr/) newspaper on 4 January 2008, which led to legal challenges and his subsequent detention and arrest.

Hacı Boğatekin and his son Özgür Boğatekin are publishing the local newspaper Gerger Fırat. Hacı Boğatekin founded Gerger Fırat in 1992. Over the course of his career, Hacı Boğatekin was tried in more than 150 cases. For example, Hacı Boğatekin, has also been sentenced to 1 year and 6 months in prison for an article he penned in 2018 regarding bribery allegations within the judiciary.

The Supreme Court’s decision marked a turning point in Boğatekin’s case, ultimately resulting in his acquittal during the first hearing at the Adıyaman 1st High Criminal Court. The court cited insufficient evidence to support the charges of “making propaganda for a terrorist organisation” against Boğatekin.

In response to the court’s decision, Boğatekin expressed relief, stating that his case has lasted over 16 years, causing material and moral damage. He was according to the first court decision sentenced to more than 12 months in prison. When the decision was approved by the Supreme Court, journalist Boğatekin was imprisoned

Hacı Boğatekin’s lawyer, highlighted the significance of the case for press freedom and freedom of expression. He emphasized that despite the lengthy legal battle, justice was eventually served through the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court’s decisions.

The legal journey faced by Boğatekin included multiple court rulings and appeals, with the Constitutional Court previously deeming the prison sentence unconstitutional, emphasising the importance of freedom of expression and press in a democracy.

Boğatekin said that the 30 thousand TRY compensation ordered by the court should be taken from the then district governor or the judge who made the decision, otherwise if the money would be paid from the tax-payers, he would distribute it to students as scholarships.

Boğatekin’s case serves as a milestone in the ongoing discourse on press freedom in Türkiye / Turkey, emphasising the vital role of journalists in addressing societal issues and contributing to public debate. The 16-year struggle for justice highlights not only the personal toll endured by Boğatekin but also the broader erosion of democratic values within Türkiye / Turkey judicial system.

The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) calls for reforms to uphold the rights of journalists in Türkiye / Turkey and also for reforms in the court system. Boğatekin’s case is an example of the problems in the judiciary and justice system.

South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) is a regional non-governmental, non profit network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in Southeast, South, East and Central Europe. SEEMO members are in Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Moldova (with the territory of Transdnestria), Montenegro, North Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Türkiye / Turkey, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. Austria, Italy, Vatican and San Marino have a special status in SEEMO. SEEMO has over 3000 individual members, and additional media as corporate members.

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