Journalists Sarıibrahimoğlu and Şık acquitted from 301 case

April 03, 2008, Thursday/ 12:27:00/ YONCA POYRAZ DOĞAN

Today’s Zaman columnist and her co-defendant have been acquitted yesterday from charges of insulting the military under the infamous Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK), which penalizes the denigration of “Turkishness” or the Turkish army.

Both Judge Rüveyde Kaner and Prosecutor Süleyman Aydın of the Bakırköy 2nd Court of First Instance in İstanbul decided on the acquittal of the Today’s Zaman writer and Jane’s Defense Weekly correspondent Lale Sarıibrahimoğlu, and journalist Ahmet Şık because they did not carry any “criminal intentions” to harm any institutions and their words should be evaluated as “harsh criticism.”

The minutes of the hearing indicated, “According to the testimonies of the defendants, according to the article and according to the whole dossier about the case, in the article subject to the criminal case, indications that some structures and persons in state institutions have to change their viewpoints should be evaluated in the context of as harsh criticism because defendants did not have criminal intentions and they should be acquitted in accordance with the 5271 numbered Code on Criminal Procedure Article 223.”

Due to Sarıiibrahimoğlu’s remarks in Şık’s article titled, “The military should withdraw its hand from internal security,” in the Feb. 8, 2007 edition of newsweekly Nokta, the prosecutor had asked for a penalty recommendation of up to three years imprisonment.

The basis for the case is her remarks regarding media images of the alleged gunman who shot Armenian-Turkish journalist Hrant Dink in January of this year:

“While police officers were suspended, military personnel were only transferred to other posts. When you examine this picture, you see a concern for protecting not only the personnel, but an institution -- moreover, a mentality. ... We saw it once again with the Dink investigation; there are sordid and rotten ones in each of the three institutions that should be removed.”

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