The relief that Önderoğlu and his two fellow defendants, human rights activist Şebnem Korur Fincancı and writer Ahmet Nesin, had felt since their acquittal on 17 July did not last long. They were notified today of the prosecution’s decision to appeal, with a two-month delay due to the judicial system’s summer break.
The Istanbul regional appeal court will hear the appeal at a date that is not yet known.
“We are dismayed by the intolerable persistence with which the prosecution is pursuing this case against Erol Önderoğlu and his two colleagues, RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire said. Their acquittal was a rare demonstration of good sense and offered a glimmer of hope for journalists who have fallen victim to the crackdown in Turkey. By relaunching the proceedings, the authorities are now sending Turkish civil society and their foreign partners a shocking signal of renewed harassment.
Önderoğlu, Fincancı and Nesin were charged with “terrorist propaganda,” “justifying crime” and “inciting crime” because, in a show of support for media pluralism, they each took turns in symbolically editing the Kurdish newspaper Özgür Gündem for a day in 2016. The authorities ended up closing the newspaper in August of that year.
The acquittal of these three press freedom defenders in July seemed at the time to have finally concluded three years of drawn-out legal proceedings.
Along with 16 other activists, Önderoğlu is due to go on trial on 7 November in a separate case in which he is charged with “terrorist propaganda” for expressing his solidarity with hundreds of university academics who signed a peaceful petition.
As the rule of law is steadily dismantled in Turkey, the situation of its media has become increasingly precarious, especially since a coup attempt in July 2016. Turkey is ranked 157th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2019 World Press Freedom Index.
Reporters Without Borders