The investigation against former İleri Haber editor-in-chief Onur Emre Yağan was launched at Mazgirt District of Tunceli. Tunceli Mazgirt District Gendarmerie Command, made an investigation regarding the social media posts of the web page and prepared a report.
Prosecutor’s office in Tunceli, sent the files to Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office with a decision of rejection of venue. This time an investigation against Yağan was launched by Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office.
Yağan gave a statement at the prosecutor’s office on January 4th, 2019. He stated that his name was Emre Yağan, but he used the name Onur in his articles every now and then. He said officially only two people worked at the paper, with volunteers and intern journalist there were a total of 5-6 employees. Yağan said, multiple people were writing the social media posts of the paper and added that he did not have the chance to follow all of these posts. He stated that he was not behind any of the subject matter posts.
It was claimed that İleri Media’s social media accounts had shared “the statements of PKK/PYD armed terrorist organisation leader Murat Karayılan and one of the leaders of the organisation Cemil Bayık”. It was claimed that “News which were in a terror promoting nature, were made”
The indictment against former İleri Haber editor-in-chief Onur Emre Yağan was completed by Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, Press Related Crimes Investigation Bureau on June 16th, 2019.
Nine posts published from İleri Haber’s social media accounts, between 2014 and 2018 were put in the indictment. It was noteworthy that all of the posts were marked as “news content”.
The indictment claimed that all of these posts were made by Yağan. Posts were claimed “to be in a nature to promote and legitimise the Syria branch of PKK/KCK armed terrorist organisation PYD/YPG’s acts of force, violence and menace”.
With the indictment Yağan was accused of “making propaganda for a terrorist organisation in successive manner” according to the article 7/2 of the Anti-Terror Law and article 43 of the Turkish Penal Code. Yağan was requested to be sentenced to, from one year three months to eight years nine months of imprisonment. He was also requested to be “bereaved of specific rights” according to the article 53 Turkish Penal Code.
Trial of former İleri Haber web page editor-in-chief and writer Onur Emre Yağan started with the first hearing held on December 3rd, 2019 at Istanbul 33rd Assize Court.
Yağan was present at the hearing whereas his attorney Özgür Urfa, who was excused. Yağan declared that he wanted to present his defence argument at the next hearing with his attorney.
Second hearing of the case was set to be held on March 20th, 2020. The hearing was postponed due to the measures taken in Turkey against the “corona virus” pandemic.
Third hearing of the case was held on June 19th, 2020. Yağan stated that some of the articles shown as evidence in the indictment, were published outside his term as the editor-in-charge and added “accusing me of the articles written before I was working at İleri Haber is not juristically valid.”. Court ruled to send the files to prosecutor’s office in order to prepare an opinion as to the accusations.
The fourth hearing took place on July 13th, 2020 and the hearing prosecutor presented his judicial opinion as to the accusations. In his judicial opinion, the prosecutor charged Yağan with “continuously spreading propaganda for a terrorist organization.”
Against the judicial opinion, Onur Emre Yağan said, “I reiterate my previous defense and demand to be acquitted.” He stated that in case of a prison sentence, he would refuse the deferment of the announcement of the verdict.
Özgür Urfa, Yağan’s lawyer, stated that five of the nine news stories for which Yağan is accused were not indeed published during his stint as manager. Urfa indicated, “A sentence will represent a new violation of rights. It is evident that filing a lawsuit after four to five years will violate the right to fair trial.”
In his final remarks, Yağan said “I believe that your honors will not reach a verdict disregarding the freedom of press.”
The court ruled to acquit Onur Emre Yağan from the charges as “there was no evidence of crime.”
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