Prosecutor refuses to take Sendika.Org Editor Demirhan’s testimony despite warrant for capture

After police raided the Sendika.Org’s office on 28 June in an effort to detain Editor Ali Ergin Demirhan for his social media posts, Demirhan arrived at Istanbul’s Çağlayan Courthouse on 18 July to provide a statement — only to be turned away by the prosecutor

Sendika.Org Editor Ali Ergin Demirhan arrived at Istanbul’s Çağlayan Courthouse on 18 July to provide testimony in a probe regarding his social media posts, around three weeks after police raided the news site’s offices in Şişli in an effort to find the journalist. Prosecutors, however, refused to take Demirhan’s testimony on the grounds that the case file has yet to reach the prosecutor in charge of press crimes.

“Regardless of what happens, Sendika.Org will continue to say the truth, refuse to bow to censorship, avoid self-censorship, remind the people about their right to resist and call a spade a spade,” Demirhan said in a press statement outside the courthouse before going inside in an attempt to provide testimony.

Demirhan received support from Republican People’s Party (CHP) MPs Ali Şeker and Onursal Adıgüzel; Halkevleri (People’s Houses) Co-Chair Nuri Günay and General Secretary Özge Ozan; DİSK Basın-İş member Candan Yıldız; as well as fellow journalists from Cumhuriyet, BirGün, Evrensel, Artı Gerçek, Dokuz8, Özgürüz and Yeni Yaşam.

A reminder of the right to resist

Speaking in front of the courthouse, Demirhan said he had waited for a formal message from prosecutors to provide testimony in the wake of the 28 June raid on Sendika.Org and that he had finally come to the prosecutor to learn more about the case. “Because of a decision to keep the case classified, we don’t really know what the content is. But since the 16 April (2017) referendum, there has been systematic pressure … They have made allegations that we ‘depicted election results as illegitimate and incited the public to enmity and rebellion.’”

Demirhan was detained four days after the 16 April referendum, which granted Turkey’s president vastly enhanced powers, but the case was later dropped.

The journalist said proceedings were likely to be dropped in another probe about one month before the recent 24 June elections, only for the raid to occur on 28 June due to a story titled “We can stop the dictatorship” and other content criticizing President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

“We know that all of this is part of attempts to repress the media during the electoral process as part of the state of emergency,” he said. “That’s why we didn’t stop, but have continued on Sendika.Org’s editorial line for the past 17 years. We’ve described what is illegitimate as illegitimate. We’ve continued to shed light on inequality, irregularities, cheating and injustice. The people have the right to resist this — that’s what we said. This isn’t an incitement to rebellion but a reminder of the right to resist.”

After Demirhan was prevented from providing testimony, his lawyers filed a petition to lift the warrant for his detention and that the prosecutor inform the journalist when it comes time to provide a statement.

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