The trial of a Turkish journalist accused of insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan opened in Istanbul on Thursday, and was immediately adjourned until May 31.
Cengiz Çandar, a veteran newspaper columnist with the newspapers Radikal and Hurriyet, has criticised government security policy, claiming that the crackdown against the Kurdish militant group the PKK was revenge after Erdoğan’s party failed to win an outright election victory last year.
Prosecuted over seven opinion articles, he faces up to four years in prison.
But the Constitutional Court is to hear a legal challenge to the article of the penal code under which he was charged.
“There is a possibility that the article, which is used as a mechanism to oppress thousands of people via the crime of ‘insulting the president’, might be abolished. We will wait for the court’s decision and see how the case will proceed,” Çandar said outside the court.
Since 2014, more than 1,800 people in Turkey are said to have been prosecuted under the article.
Before the trial, Çandar announced his retirement from a 40-year-career in journalism in the final edition of Radikal, which has closed after 20 years in operation, reportedly for financial reasons.
In another case that has drawn international condemnation, two Turkish journalists face life sentences for publishing a video purporting to show government weapons deliveries to Syrian militants.
President Erdoğan personally filed a complaint against Can Dündar and Erdem Gül from the opposition Cumhuriyet newspaper, and the pair were charged with espionage and divulging state secrets.
Erdoğan acknowledged the lorries that were filmed belonged to Turkish intelligence, but claimed they were transporting aid to Turkmen rebels in Syria.
The trial, which is to be held behind closed doors, has also been adjourned, until April 22.
Dundar, Cumhuriyet’s editor-in-chief, has said the trial is not about espionage, but that the real target of the case is journalism.
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