Turkish reporter tells court his only crime was doing journalism

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Şirin Kabakçı

Jailed Turkish journalist Şirin Kabakçı, who used to be Konya bureau chief for the Zaman daily, Turkey’s highest circulating newspaper before its takeover and closure by the Turkish government in 2016, said in court on Tuesday that the only crime he had committed was engaging in the profession of journalism.

“I have been in jail for 14 months and am only now able to express myself. My only crime is doing journalism,” Kabakçı said in his defense during the first hearing in his trial at the İstanbul 35th High Criminal Court during which the prosecutor read a list of the accusations against Kabakçı.

According to tweets posted by @P24DavaTakip, which has been following the trials of journalists in Turkey, the prosecutor presented Zaman’s insurance registration for Kabakçı, his phone call history (HTS), his participation in protests against the detention of the Zaman daily’s former editor-in-chief Ekrem Dumanlı and the arrest of Samanyolu Broadcasting Group General Director Hidayet Karaca as evidence against the journalist.

Kabakçı stated that he is just a journalist and said: “I started journalism as a reporter in 1990. I deny all the accusations against me. I am entitled to receive a permanent press card after having a press card for 18 years. I used to make a living through journalism.”

“According to our laws, a journalist’s duty is to report the news on behalf of the public. So journalists perform a public service. The Turkish Republic, which is a democratic state of law, has guaranteed press freedom through articles in its constitution and by signing the relevant international conventions,” Kabakçı said, adding: “Protesting is not a crime, either, according to our constitution. Also, the phone calls I made were interviews for professional purposes. Moreover, the international trips I took were also to follow the news.”

(Stockholm Center for Freedom [SCF] with Turkish Minute)

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