Evrensel: Mican’s threats and hate speech is considered freedom of speech

The Istanbul Chair of the Alperen Hearths Foundation, Kürşat Mican’s threats and hate speech against LGBTI Pride Walk was evaluated and ruled to be within the scope of freedom of speech by a state prosecutor’s investigation. Despite the fact that Mican is not a journalist, the prosecutor emphasized the ‘freedom of press’ in his verdict.

Source: Cansu Pişkin, “Mican’ın tehditleri, nefret söylemi ifade özgürlüğü sayıldı!”, Evrensel, February 10, 2018, https://www.evrensel.net/haber/345211/micanin-tehditleri-nefret-soylemi-ifade-ozgurlugu-sayildi

A criminal complaint had been filed against Kürşat Mican, who used threats and hate speech bearing statements during a television programme on KRT. The statements were directed towards the LGBTI Pride Walk planned to take place on June 25 last year. Lawyers Rozerin Kip and Levent Pişkin filed a complaint to the Istanbul Office of the Chief Public Prosecutor, stating that Mican was inciting the public to hatred and animosity, using threats and insults. Mican had threatened the Pride Walk with the following statements: “These people plan to build a structure in every neighborhood. We warn our Intelligence Agencies. This is a project of the capitalist, communist, imperialist powers. They aim to spread homosexuality, to destroy the unity of family, to stop procreation, to end the husband-wife relationship and to prevent the growth of a generation which is a result of said relationship and which would do good for this nation. This dynamite is planted at the foundation of the structure of the family. Young people are getting inclined towards this direction. They especially went down to working at the level of neighborhoods. We will not allow this, whatever the cost may be. I’m addressing the Turkish nation, these are very dangerous structures. We need to prevent this immorality, this will spread otherwise. If the state allows this, we won’t. Where ever they will walk, we will go and block that region, that avenue, they won’t be able come there anyway. We will not let them walk. We can find 200 thousand people if need be.”

The statements were interpreted as within the legal parameters of press freedom.

Public Prosecutor Ersoy Altıntaş from the Istanbul Office of Chief Public Prosecutor Press Crimes Inquiry Bureau evaluated the criminal complaint and found the statements to be within the scope of freedom of speech. Rather than focus on Mican’s words, Altıntaş frequently emphasized ‘press freedom’ in his verdict and on the medium of the statements, the TV channel, and the program–even though Mican is not a journalist. Altıntaş stated: “If a journalist is sentenced for helping disseminate another person’s words, this will create a serious obstacle against the contribution of the press in public debate. Thus, this should not be the path to take unless there are valid reasons to do so. To set the condition for the journalists to systematically refrain from statements which can hurt, incite, or defame others does not comply with the role of the press to inform the public on current affairs, opinions and notions.”

Prosecutor Altıntaş also suggested “freedom of speech is among the most fundamental rights in a democratic society” and stated “according to the regulation in the law, there needs to be a concrete danger in order to have an element of crime. The news article in this case does not create such a concrete danger; therefore, as in the incident for which the complaint is filed, the legal elements for the alleged crimes are not existent. As a result of the investigation carried out by our Office of Chief Public Prosecutor, it was understood from the documents pertaining to investigation that the alleged crimes had not come into existence”. The case is at the moment deemed as nolle prosequi. Rozerin Kip and Levent Pişkin have stated their intention to file an appeal to this verdict.

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