Semiha Şahin

Beats Covered:
Local or Foreign:

Istanbul police on April 12, 2018, detained Semiha Şahin, editor of the socialist Etkin News Agency (ETHA), and Pınar Gayıp, a reporter for the agency, the daily Cumhuriyet reported. A court on April 19 ordered the journalists to be held on terrorism-related charges, the report said.

The indictment accused Şahin, Gayıp and two others of "being a member of a [terrorist] organization" and "making propaganda for a [terrorist] organization." The prosecution argued that the socialist party, The Socialist Party for the Oppressed (ESP), alongside ETHA and other bodies, were in league with the outlawed Marxist, Leninist, Communist Party (MLKP) and its subsidiaries. The two other defendants in the case are not journalists but had shared allegedly pro-MLKP posts on social media.

Evidence cited in the indictment included the defendants’ social media presence and Şahin and Gayıp’s employment at ETHA which, the indictment alleged “operates according to the idea and ideology of the terrorist organization MLKP.” The indictment also cited as evidence tweets and Facebook posts from the journalists’ personal accounts that allegedly that praised militias fighting in Syria.

Kader Tonç, a lawyer for Gayıp, told CPJ that the indictment mentions only Twitter and Facebook by name but the evidence included posts from Gayıp’s private Instagram account. Tonç said the indictment accused Şahin of attending illegal protests, but that the pictures included in the case file to support the claim showed that she was covering the protests as a journalist. As of late 2018, CPJ had not been able to independently view the images.

A court on September 10, 2018 denied the defendants’ request to be released pending the outcome of the trial, the independent news website Bianet reported. The next hearing was scheduled to take place on December 5, 2018.