Journalist Rahmi Yıldırım published an article with the headline, “I Feel So Sad for the Chief of Staff” on his personal blog on 3 February 2017.
In his article, Yıldırım criticised Hulusi Akar, then Chief of Staff, over the message he shared following the death of Hasan Karakaya, executive editor of Yeni Akit newspaper, which said “There is now a void in Turkish journalism that can never be filled”.
Yıldırım stated in his article that Karakaya had once expressed his opinion of Akar by saying: “This is a country where people who shouldn’t even be corporals become generals”. Yıldırım also criticised Hulusi Akar’s “visit to Nuri Pakdil, who is one of the pro-political Islam writers”.
Yıldırım also stated in his article that Hulusi Akar was the Chief of Staff during the military coup attempt on 15 July 2016 and said, “Half of the generals in the military commanded by Hulusi Pasha attempted to stage a coup”.
Following the publication of the article, Ankara Directorate of Security received an anonymous complaint. The Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office of Gölbaşı, Ankara launched an investigation over the complaint. Yıldırım was charged with “defamation of a public official”.
Yıldırım was not detained as part of the investigation. He was called in to give testimony at the prosecutor’s office. In his defensive statement, Yıldırım said that “he was former military personnel himself and he had written his article to express his sadness as a colleague of Hulusi Pasha”. Yıldırım stated that he had not intended to defame or humiliate Hulusi Akar.
The indictment concerning Yıldırım was completed by the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office of Gölbaşı Ankara on 11 April 2019.
The indictment charged Yıldırım with “public defamation of a public official due to his profession” in accordance with Article 125 of the Turkish Penal Code. The prosecution demanded that Yıldırım be sentenced to imprisonment of between fourteen months and two years and four months.
The first hearing of the trial took place at the 3rd Criminal Court of First Instance of Gölbaşı, Ankara on 2 October 2019. Yıldırım stated that the filing of the case had exceeded the four-month limit on commencing prosecution as per Article 26 of the Press Law and demanded that the case be dropped.
The second and final hearing of the trial took place on 25 December 2019. The court ruled for Rahmi Yıldırım’s acquittal.
The Appeals Process
Hulusi Akar’s attorneys launched an appeal against the acquittal of Yıldırım at the court of appeals. The court of appeals’ examination concerning the ruling is underway.
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