Lawyer Eren Keskin is the Co-Chair of the Human Rights Association, founder of the “Legal Assistance Office Against Sexual Harassment and Rape in Detention,” and an honorary member of the Paris Bar Council. She has received numerous international awards for her peace and human rights efforts and was the recipient of the 2019 Martin Ennals Award in May.
A number of cases have been filed against Keskin, including for “spreading propaganda for an armed terrorist organization,” “denigrating the Turkish nation, the Republic of Turkey, and the institutions and organs of the State,” “insulting the President,” and “failure to publish article corrections demanded by authorities to previous news articles”.
Most of these charges were brought against her for the work she has done as Editor-in-Chief of the Özgür Gündem daily newspaper between 2013 and 2016. She carried out this role at the newspaper to defend the right to freedom of expression and as a symbolic gesture to support the imprisoned editorial staff. Over 100 cases have been lodged against her for news and articles written by other journalists exercising their right to freedom of expression. Moreover, there are ongoing cases against Keskin in which she is being charged with “denigrating the State” for several statements she made on behalf of Human Rights Association and for a speech discussing sexual harassment as a method of torture.
Keskin was sentenced to 2.5 years in prison for using the term “Kurdistan” in an article she published in 1995. She was eventually released earlier, spending 6 months in prison. Over the years, she has received many threats through letters, has been targeted in an armed attack in 1994 and 2001, and has been at constant risk of imprisonment
The total number of lawsuits filed against Keskin is 143, but this number is 124 as some of the lawsuits have been combined. As a result of the trial of 120 cases, convictions including imprisonment and fines were given. Only four cases were dropped or Keskin was acquitted. Four case files are under review at the Court of Cassation and the Regional Court of Justice due to the appeals and appeals against the decisions rendered.
The total prison sentence given to Keskin is currently 26 years, 9 months and 20 days. The sum of the fines given is 431.912 TL. 247.912 TL of these fines are included in the case files that are still being examined at the Court of Cassation. Keskin paid a fine of 184.000 TL., otherwise it would be commuted to a prison sentence.
Keskin was given a prison sentence of 3 years and 9 months at the last hearing of the Özgür Gündem Case held on 21 May 2019 before the Istanbul 14th Heavy Penal Court.
On 17 July 2019, in another case before the 13th High Criminal Court, Keskin’s file was separated and merged with the Özgür Gündem Main Case file. The last hearing of this case held on 28 November 2019 at 23rd High Criminal Court.
The court evaluated the demand of the prosecutor for time to prepare his opinion on the merits and postponed the hearing date to 13 January 2020.
At the hearing on January 13, 2020, the public prosecutor announced his opinion and wanted Eren Keskin to be tried on charges of “membership of a terrorist organization”, for four articles written by her and articles and visuals published during the period when she was the editor-in-chief of the newspaper.
The final hearing of the main trial of Özgür Gündem newspaper, which was closed by a Statutory Decree, was held at the İstanbul 23rd Heavy Penal Court in İstanbul Çağlayan Courthouse on February 14, 2020.
The court has ruled that the files of Zana (Bilir) Kaya, İnan Kızılkaya, Kemal Sancılı and Eren Keskin shall also be separated as time has been requested for their statements of defense as to the accusations.
Eren Keskin was called to testify on June 12, 2020, due to the tweets she posted five years ago. The prosecution accuses Keskin of “propagandizing for a terrorist organization”. On the 16th of June 2020, her residence in Istanbul Maltepe was ransacked and the incident was made to appear as a robbery.
The first hearing of the case opened with the allegation of “propagandizing for a terrorist organization” based on social media posts from five years ago was held on 22 October 2020 at the 36th High Criminal Court of Istanbul. The court board ruled that the request to merge the case with the file at the Istanbul 13th High Criminal Court will be evaluated in the next cell.
The next hearing was held on December 24, 2020. The court decided to merge the existing file with the Istanbul 13th High Criminal Court, where Keskin was tried for the same crime. At the decision hearing on February 15, 2021, the Istanbul 23rd High Criminal Court sentenced Eren Keskin to 6 years and 3 months in prison on the charge of “membership in a terrorist organization”.
In June 2021, a new investigation was launched against Eren Keskin with the allegation of “Targeting Persons Taking Part in the Fight Against Terrorism”. The reason for the investigation opened upon the complaint of the Deputy Commander General of the Gendarmerie, Lieutenant General Musa Çitil, is a social media post by Keskin. Eren Keskin drew a similarity between Çitil and Sergeant Musa Orhan, who was accused of raping İpek Er in Batman Gercüs and causing her death: “Years ago, there was a Musa Çitil before Musa Orhan. He was a commander in Mardin in the 90s. He was tried pending trial for sexual assault against Ş.E. He was acquitted. Years later, he was a commander in Diyarbakır ‘Sur’.”