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"Taraf" newspaper contributor on trial for interviewing leader of refugee group

(BIANET/IFEX) - A trial has begun in a case against Nese Duzel, a writer for the "Taraf" newspaper, based on an interview she conducted with M. Serif Gencdal, a spokesman for a group that came to Turkey from Iraq in October 2009.

Twenty-six people from a UN refugee camp in Mahmur and eight former members of the militant Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) from Qandil Mountain crossed the border into southeastern Turkey upon the urging of imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan on 19 October 2009. They made their decision of their own volition in an attempt to push forward the stalled political process to find a solution to the Kurdish question.

A total of 37 cases against "Taraf" newspaper employees were heard at the Kadikoy (Istanbul) Court on 10 December, the date of Duzel's hearing. Duzel is being indicted under Article 215 of the Turkish Criminal Law (TCK), which refers to "praising crime and criminals". Reporter Dicle Basturk is also being tried based on Article 125 of the TCK on a charge of "insult", and journalist Firat Alkac stands accused of "attempting to influence a fair trial" under Article 288. All of the trials are being heard before the Kadikoy 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance.

Duzel is not being held in detention during her trial. In her defence she claimed that the "Taraf" employees are not being tried in accordance with the law but rather for what has been deemed a crime in the eyes of the prosecutor. "The people I talked to were not brought here by arresting them, they did not secretly sneak over the border into the country, they came openly. I am being tried for talking to people who crossed the border freely and without judicial governance. According to which laws, which measure and to which concept of law am I being prosecuted? Will you convict me because those holding political power changed their minds?," Duzel said.

Duzel's lawyer, Veysel Ok, stated that his client conducted an interview with the aim of informing the public in order to make a contribution to social peace. He called for her acquittal. Duzel is facing a prison term if convicted.

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