Ayşegül Doğan - "Establishing and Leading an Armed Terrorist Organization" Trial

Democratic Society Congree (DTK) was founded in October 2007 by a wide range of non governmental organisations and political parties in order to find solutions to the Kurdish problem. Many investigations and lawsuits were opened regarding DTK’s activities after 2015. Journalists and politicians were among the people who were tried. Ayşegül Doğan was one of the journalists who faced an investigation.

The indictment against Doğan was completed on May 23, 2018.

The indictment claimed that Democratic Society Congress (DTK) “Was the 3rd leg of Abdullah Öcalan’s four-leg-paradigm and functioned as a so-called founding parliament”. It was claimed that DTK “was founded by the orders of Abdullah Öcalan, to realise the strategy of democratic autonomy”. Notes she took regarding the interviews she made with Öcalan’s attorneys were lined to support these accusations.

6-page-long part regarding Doğan of the 86-page-long indictment started at page 70. On this part, were recordings of four phone calls Doğan made.

It was claimed the on a phone call dated July 15, 2011, Doğan, to a person called G., “had said that the news regarding Abdullah Öcalan’s situatiın must be formulated carefully”.

It was claimed that, another recording showed that Doğan, “expostulated, to a person calling from DTK, about not being invited as a journalist to DTK’s workshop on murders by unknown assailants and missing persons”.

It was claimed that another phone call, dated May 8, 2012, showed that Doğan “was invited to the meeting called ’Democratic Autonomy Workshop’ organised by DTK, as a moderator”.

It was claimed that the fourth phone call in the indictment showed that Doğan, “had talked to a deputy advisor about the people who were going to attend the meeting, that was going to be organised with the name ‘Erbil Kurdish Women’s Conference’”.

It was stated that Doğan, was a permanent parliamentary member of DTK and had worked at different commissions of DTK.

The indictment accused Doğan of “establishing or managing an armed terror organisation” according to the article 314/1 of the Turkish Penal Code and article 5 of the Anti-Terror Law. She was requested to be sentenced to, from 15 years to 22 years and 6 months of imprisonment.

Trial of Doğan started with the first hearing at Diyarbakır 9th Assize Court on November 21, 2018. Doğan presented her defence argument at the first hearing.

She said that she went by the Democratic Society Congress, solely with the purpose of making news. She stated that the subject matter phone calls were acts of journalism.

Second hearing of the case was held on April 3, 2019. Doğan was not present at this hearing. The sound samples taken from Doğan were ruled to be sent to the Forensic Medicine Institute in order to match them with the phone call records, used as evidence against her in the case file.

Third hearing of the case was held on September 11, 2019. Doğan was not present at this hearing too. Her attorney Ahmet Özmen, stated that Doğan was not present at the hearing due to having undergone a surgery. It was seen that the report regarding the sound samples, requested from the Forensic Medicine Institute during the previous hearing, was not yet sent.

Fourth hearing of the case was held on December 25, 2019. Doğan stated that she was “elected in her absence” as a Permanent Parliamentary Member of the Democratic Society Congress and had not done anything as a permanent member. She repeated that she was elected in her absence as a Permanent Parliamentary Member of the DTK and had not done anything as a permanent member. Doğan’s attorney Emel Ataktürk, requested the court to send a formal letter to the Supreme Board of Radio and Television, to request the footage where Doğan is seen participating in a meeting of governing Justice and Development Party (AKP).

Court ruled to send a formal letter to the Directorate of Communications of the Presidency in order to ask if Doğan was a member of the press and to notify the court about the dates when her, if any, press cards were valid. Case files were ruled to be sent to the prosecution in order to prepare an opinion as to the accusations.

Fifth hearing of the case was to be held on March 18, 2020. However the hearing was postponed to June 10, 2020 due to the measures taken against “coronavirus” pandemic in Turkey. Sixth hearing of the case, too, was postponed on the same grounds.

The seventh hearing of the trial was held on October 7th, 2020. Two members of the panel of judges had changed. The sued journalist Ayşegül Doğan did not attend the hearing, and was represented at the hearing by her lawyers Ahmet Özmen and Mehmet Emin Aktar.

The hearing prosecutor presented his judicial opinion as to the accusations.

The judicial opinion changed the charge leveled against Doğan. The judicial opinion demanded that Doğan be sentenced as per Turkish Penal Code 314/2 and Anti-Terror Law 5, namely “membership of an armed terror organization”.

In the indictment, Doğan had been charged with “establishing and leading an armed terror organization”. As a result, the prison sentence requested by the prosecutor for Doğan fell from a sentence of 15 years to 22 years six months, to a sentence of seven years six months to 15 years.

Doğan’s lawyer requested additional time for their plea against the judicial opinion.

The lawyer also demanded the expansion of the prosecution. In this respect, lawyer Mehmet Emin Aktar stated that in the wiretapping recordings part of another indictment, it was written, “Ayşegül Doğan did not attend with her own consent. Somebody should tell her to resign from Democratic Society Congress (DTK)”. Lawyer Aktar requested that this indictment be demanded from the prosecutor’s office and attached to this file.

The court rejected lawyer Mehmet Emin Aktar’s request for the addition of the said piece of evidence to the current file. The court justified this decision with the argument that “the request will not add any novelty to the file”.

The lawyers’ request for additional time for the defense statement against the judicial opinion was accepted.

The trial was adjourned until December 7th, 2020.

Ayşegül Doğan

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