An investigation was launched against Sertaç Kayar, a reporter for Sputnik Turkey web site, on January 17, 2018, by the Public Proseuctor. The indicement claimed that during 2010-2012 when Sertaç Kayar worked for Dicle News Agency (DİHA) as reporter, he was a member of the 101-strong permanent assembly of Democratic Society Congress (DTK), carried out journalistic activities on their behalf, participated in 31 different protests on separate dates organized by PKK/KCK and was a leader of the organization.
The indictment alleged that “DTK is an organization that corresponds to the ‘four pillars paradigm’ of Abdullah Öcalan and supposedly functioned as a constitutent assembly”; “DTK was founded and structured upon the orders of Abdullah Öcalan so as to implement the group’s strategy of democratic autonomy”; “It is the legislative organ that acts like the parliament of KCK/TM and operates as an assembly”.
The accusation of “leadership of a terrorist organization” is based on wire-tapping by the police as regards the demo organized by DTK on July 14, 2011.
The prosecutor’s office claimed that Kayar, between the years 2012- 2013, participated in DTK meetings with a view to establishing democratic autonomy and an independent Kurdistan, and this was detected through intelligence activities carried out as per Law of Criminal Procedure, Articles 135 and 140.
It is claimed that Sertaç Kayar made calls to invite individuals to DTK meetings and informed them about the meeting agendas.
The indictment also cites a statement by the witness Menderes Öner received on November 29, 2011 at Istanbul Police Department, Anti-Terror Branch: “The following are members of PKK terror organizations’ print and visual media branches… Sertaç Kayar was the chief correspondent of Dicle News Agency in Diyarbakır…”.
After listing these allegations, the prosecutor’s office requested that Kayar be sentenced to prison “for leading an armed terrorist organization and for a duration above the lower imprisonment limit for this crime, in consideration of the continuity, intensity and diversity of his activities”.
The prosecutor requested a prison sentence of 10 to 15 years of prison for “leading an armed terrorist organization” as per Turkish Penal Code, Article 314/1, and then the increase of this sentence to 15 to 22,5 years as per Anti-Terror Law, Article 5.
The first hearing of the trial in which Kayar was tried without detention took place at Diyarbakır 10. High Criminal Court on November 21, 2018. Kayar attended the hearing along with his lawyer Şıvan Cemil Özen.
The lawyer Şıvan Cemil Özen stated that his client Sertaç Kayar penned a news story about the Fethullah Gülen sect in 2010 when he worked for Dicle News Agency, indicating how the sect leaked the answers to the KPSS exam. Özen indicated that an investigation was launched against Kayar for this story, and that the investigation had ended in a ruling of non-persecution. He requested that this ruling be included in his file, and stated that wire-tapping against Kayar began after this first investigation. Kayar stated that in the wire-tapping recording, there was talk about an individual named Sertaç, but no surname was mentioned.
Afterwards, the lawyer indicated that in the footage showing Sertaç Kayar going to the DTK meeting he had his camera case hanging on his arm, showing that he was there for journalistic purposes. The chairman of the panel of judges asked Sertaç Kayar if he knew Menderes Öner, and Kayar said that he did not remember him.
Lawyer Şıvan Cemil Özen demanded that Menderes Öner be heard as witness in court. At the end of the hearing, the court accepted the request that Menderes Öner be heard as witness.
The next hearing was scheduled for April 5, 2019. Kayar attended alongside his lawyer.
The hearing was postponed to June 26, 2019 as the statement of the witness Menderes Öner had not been taken. The same panel of judges took part in that hearing. It was indicated there that Menderes Öner’s statement was taken by Çorum High Criminal Court and that his statement had been added to the file. Şivan Özen, Kayar’s lawyer requested that the court demand information from Diyarbakır Public Prosecutor’s Office as to whether any information or document about Kayar was found during the search of the Democratic Society Congress (DTK). The chairman of the panel of judges requested the Diyarbakır Public Prosecutor’s Office to report whether any information or documents about the defendant were found during the search of the Democratic Society Congress (DTK).
The trial was adjourned until December 4, 2019.