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"Atilim" journalists detained while awaiting trial

(BIANET/IFEX) - The Istanbul 11th High Criminal Court rejected the release of "Atilim" newspaper journalists Çagdas Küçükbattal and Tuncay Mat. Both journalists stand trial for allegedly participating in the demolition of a base station in the Gazi district on the European side of Istanbul. Both defendants claim to have been present at the incident in their capacity as journalists.

The trial of eleven defendants, six of them detained, started on 5 March 2010. The defendants stand accused of participating in the destruction of the base station as part of organized activities related to the Marxist Leninist Communist Party (MLKP).

In the indictment, Public Prosecutor Kadir Altinisik is prosecuting Küçükbattal and Mat over allegations of "reinforcing coercion, violence or threat in the course of the incident", "membership of an armed organization", "damaging public property" and "opposing the Law on Meetings and Demonstrations". Küçükbattal and Mat have been in detention for the last six months.

Küçükbattal was doing an internship at "Atilim" newspaper at the time. He claimed, "I had a camera hung around my neck, as you can see from the photographs in the file. My handwritten notes were confiscated in the search of my home and were presented as evidence of crimes numbered 1-5. These are my notes for the news items. It is very clear that these are notes for news articles". Küçükbattal asked the court, "Are you prosecuting me for doing journalism? Is journalism illegal?"

The confiscated "handwritten document" comprises a text of five pages. Küçükbattal allegedly took notes regarding "a clear explanation of the incident". Afterwards, he supposedly agitated the crowd by spreading his information. Authorities say that "he provoked the people and directed them to the building of the base station. He took notes on the topics of destroying the base station, clashes with security forces and being driven back".

In their speeches, the journalists' lawyers referred to several points of the indictment that were contrary to the law. The court decided to postpone the case to 28 May.

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