The Bar Human Rights Committee has this week sent an international trial observer to the first hearing in the trial of five Turkish journalists in the Istanbul High Criminal Court.

The trial involves three former editors (Ahmet Altan, Yasemin Çongar and Yıldıray Oğur) and two former journalists (Mehmet Baransu and Tuncay Opçin) from the daily newspaper Taraf.

The journalists are facing charges of acquiring and divulging documents concerning the security of the state and its political interests punishable by up to 50 years in prison. Two of the journalists are facing additional charges of ‘membership and administration of a terrorist organization’ and face a possible 75-year prison term.

The charges are detailed in a 276 page indictment, which was accepted on 20 June 2016 by the Istanbul High Criminal Court, 16 months after the initiation of the investigation. One of the Defendants, Mehmet Baransu, has been held in pre-trial detention since his arrest on 2 March 2015.

Gráinne Mellon, BHRC’s representative on the mission, said:

“The Bar Human Rights Committee’s observation of this case forms part of our work to support and protect practising lawyers, judges and human rights defenders who are threatened or oppressed in their work, and to uphold the rule of law and internationally recognised human rights norms and standards.

We are carefully considering the issues arising in this case. Proceedings are in the early days, but we will continue to monitor them closely”


(Image credit: European Federation of Journalists