A court in the Istanbul suburb of Kadiköy acquitted Baris Yarkadas, the editor of the online newspaper Gercek Gündem (Real Agenda), on 15 September of defaming Nur Birgen, the head of the Institute for Forensic Medicine’s expertise section.
Yarkadas had been facing a possible 30-month jail sentence. Birgen has a week to decide whether she wants to appeal.
The same court acquited Yarkadas on 9 June 2010 of insulting President Abdullah Gül by failing to remove a message critical of Gül posted by a visitor to the website.
Online editor acquitted of insulting president but faces trial on other charge
9 June 2010
A criminal court in the Istanbul district of Kadiköy has acquitted Baris Yarkadas, the editor of the online newspaper Gercek Gündem (gercekgundem.com) of “insulting the president” by failing to remove a message posted by a visitor to the website.
Judge Tahsin Dogan ruled on 9 June that Yarkadas could not be held responsible for the message posted by the visitor identifying himself as “Türkeli27” and that the message could anyway be considered as admissible under the right to free expression.
Kadiköy prosecutor Dursun Yilmaz had requested a sentence of five years and four months under article 299-2 of the criminal code.
Yarkadas is due to appear before another criminal court in Kadiköy on 21 June on a charge of insulting Nur Birgen, the head of the Institute for Forensic Medicine’s expertise section, in an article he wrote about the forensic medicine system entitled “Why did they abolish the death penalty,” which was posted on the site on 22 July 2009.
The article mentioned alleged human rights violations by Birgen and reported that she was appointed to her present position despite being fired from a previous position in 1996 for alleged use of torture.
Website editor to be tried on charge on insulting president
Baris Yarkadas, the editor of the online newspaper Gercek Gündem (Real Agenda), will face up to five years in prison when he appears before a criminal court in the Istanbul district of Kadiköy tomorrow in response to a complaint brought by the president’s office. He is charged with insulting President Abdullah Gül under article 299-2 of the criminal code for failing to remove a comment posted by a reader.
“We call for the immediate withdrawal of this baseless charge,” Reporters Without Borders said. “It is incomprehensible that Yarkadas should be accused of insulting the president when he did not himself write the comment, which was anyway neither rude nor insulting. This prosecution is indicative of a desire by the government to intimidate and silence its critics.”
The president’s office has even said it knows who posted the comments, referring to him as “the aggressor” and revealing that he lives abroad. The reader accused President Gül of allowing his Armenian counterpart, Serzh Sargsyan, to defy him. “Bravo, you have trampled on the honour of the great republic of Turkey,” he wrote.
Yarkadas is facing other prosecutions. He is due to appear before the same court on 5 March on a charge of offending Nur Birgen, the head of the Institute for Forensic Medicine’s expertise section, by reporting allegations that human rights NGOs have made against her.