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

From 2015 onwards, many journalists and politicians were investigated for the activities of the Democratic Society Congress (DTK) in Diyarbakır. Journalist Ayşegül Doğan was among the journalists investigated. The investigation on Doğan was conducted by the Diyarbakır Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office Terror Crimes Investigation Bureau in 2018.

Prosecutor drafted the indictment for the investigation on journalist Ayşegül Doğan concerning the DTK’s activities. The indictment, completed on May 23, 2018, consisted of 86 pages. The remarks about Doğan were on pages 70-76 of the indictment.

The rest of the indictment claimed the DTK constituted the third pillar of Abdullah Öcalan’s “four-pillar paradigm”, acting as a supposed constituent assembly or organization. It was claimed the DTK was established and structured at the behest of Abdullah Öcalan with a view to implementing “the strategy of Democratic Autonomy”, and was a legislative organ operating like a parliament. The indictment also cited Abdullah Öcalan’s meeting minutes with his lawyers concerning the DTK.

In the section about journalist Doğan, the voice recordings of four of her phone calls are presented. Two of these calls concerned news contacts, while the other two were about her invitation to workshops by the DTK. In the phone call dated November 15, 2011, cited in the indictment, Doğan tells G. that news stories concerning the defendant Abdullah Öcalan should be “formulated meticulously.” In another phone call, Doğan tells a member of the DTK that she was disappointed for not receiving an invitation to their workshop on unsolved murders and forced disappearances.

The phone call on May 8, 2012 concerns a proposition to Doğan for acting as moderator in the meeting titled Democratic Autonomy Workshop organized by the DTK.

The fourth call mentioned in the indictment is between Doğan and a consultant to an MP, regarding the individuals who will participate in the Erbil Kurdish Women Conference.

Moreover, Doğan’s activities in the DTK’s Permanent Assembly and various the DTK commissions are also presented as ground for charges.

Based on such evidence, prosecutor Yıldız requested that Doğan be sentenced to prison of up to 22.5 years on charges of “establishing and leading an armed terrorist organization” as per Turkish Penal Code, Article 314, paragraph 1.

The Diyarbakır Ninth High Criminal Court accepted the indictment against Doğan and a lawsuit was filed. The first hearing of the case was held on November 21, 2018. Doğan presented her defense at the hearing, stating that her contacts with the DTK were aimed only at journalism, and that this could be confirmed by the archival records of that period. Arguing that the phone calls cited in the indictment concern solely journalistic activities, Ayşegül Doğan made explanations against every charge pressed against her. The next hearing of the case was held on April 3, 2019. Doğan did not attend this hearing. The panel of judges ordered that Doğan’s voice samples be compared with the voice recordings presented in the case file as evidence, and that the Forensic Medicine Institute prepare a report on this subject.

The third hearing of the case was held on September 11, 2019. Doğan did not attend this hearing. His lawyer Ahmet Özmen said that Doğan could not attend the hearing due to a surgery. The president of the panel of judges stated that the audio surveillance voice recordings concerning Doğan had been sent to Istanbul Forensic Medicine Institute for examination, but their report had not yet been received.

The trial was adjourned until December 25, 2019.

In the hearing, the court board ruled that an official request was to be made to the Department of Communications of the Presidency to determine whether Doğan was the member of press, he had a press card, if so, validation dates of the said press card. It was also ruled that the files were to be handed over to the prosecution in order to prepare an opinion and the next hearing was set to March 18th, 2020.

The 5th hearing of the case could not be held on 17 March 2020, as planned. The trial, postponed to 10 June 2020 due to Coronavirus pandemic measures. This hearing was postponed to 7 October 2020 for the same reason.

Ayşegül Doğan

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