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Journalists on trial for interview with PKK official and statements regarding the PKK

(BIANET/IFEX) - Journalist Hakan Tahmaz is scheduled to appear in court on 1 June 2010 for the interview he had with the leading official of the militant Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) on Kandil Mountain in the predominantly Kurdish region of south-eastern Turkey. His colleague Temel Demirer is also on trial for his statement that Turkish-Armenian journalist "Hrant Dink was not killed for being Armenian, but for recognising the genocide [of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire in 1915]." He will appear in court on 20 May.

Human rights defender Tahmaz, "Birgün" newspaper editorial manager İbrahim Çeşmecioğlu and owner of the daily, Bülent Yılmaz, stand accused of "publishing statements of PKK/KONGRAGEL" according to article 6/2 of the Anti-Terror Act (TMY). The reason for the prosecution is the interview entitled "Unilateral Ceasefire Amplifies the Problem" published in the "Birgün" daily on 9 August 2008.

Prosecutor Savaş Kırbaş from the Istanbul 10th High Criminal Court demanded to punish the three defendants because of the interview with Murat Karayılan, leader of the KCK (Koma Civaken Kurdistan), known as the umbrella organization of the PKK.

The three defendants will now prepare their defence to be presented in the coming hearing on 1 June. A decision may be reached in the same hearing.

The prosecution demands imprisonment of up to three years for Tahmaz and Çeşmecioğlu, Yılmaz is facing a heavy monetary fine.

Journalist and author Temel Demirer is facing a prison sentence of up to two years for his statement made the day after the assassination of Hrant Dink in January 2007. He is prosecuted under article 301 of the Turkish Criminal Code (TCK). Saying "I do not let anybody call my state a murderer", Demirer tried to annul the approval for his case which was issued by Justice Minister Mehmet Ali Şahin at the administrative court.

Upon the decline of the Administrative Court for the request to discontinue the proceedings, Demirer's lawyers appealed once more to the Regional Administrative Court on 29 January. The Ankara 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance has been waiting for a decision from the administrative court since 14 November 2008.

On 17 March Demirer went to the Ankara court and learned that his file has been forwarded to the Ankara 11th Criminal Court of First Instance. The writer's case will continue on 20 May.

Demirer was accompanied to court by sociologist İsmail Beşikçi, writer Fikret Başkaya and members of the Ankara Initiative for Freedom of Thought.

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