The human rights activist and Hessian Peace Prize laureate Dr. Şebnem Korur Fincancı and two other co-defendants were acquitted of charges of terrorist propaganda by a Turkish court on Wednesday. Fincancı and the journalists Erol Önderoğlu (Reporters without Borders) and Ahmet Nesin were arrested in 2016 for a campaign in solidarity with the subsequently banned pro-Kurdish newspaper Ozgür Gündem and charged with 'terrorist propaganda' as well as 'justifying' and 'inciting crime'. In a symbolic act of media pluralism, they had taken over the editor-in-chief of the newspaper for one day at a time.
Fincancı, which was the only one of the three defendants present in the courtroom, declared in her closing speech before the verdict was announced: "The only crime here was a crime against freedom of speech". Reporters Without Borders also assessed the trial as part of the systematic campaign against freedom of the press and opinion in Turkey.
However, the acquittal is only a partial victory, as the expert on torture documentation Şebnem Korur Fincancı is facing another trial for alleged 'terrorist propaganda'. Because she signed the peace petition "We will not be a party to this crime" with more than 1000 academics in 2016, she was sentenced to two and a half years in prison in December 2018. This fall, the court of appeal will decide whether this sentence remains valid.
Further Information in German
On February 7 2019 the Hessian Parliament has expressed its solidarity with Fincancı and criticesed the imprisonment of journalists, academics and democratically elected representatives in Turkey: Motion in the Hessian Parliament: Hafturteil gegen Ärztin und Hessische Friedenspreisträgerin 2018