Ahmet Sever - “Publicy Insulting the Public Official” Trial

The book Ahmet Sever wrote about his impressions of the term he served as key press consultant of former President Abdullah Gül, “İçimde Kalmasın/Tanıklığımdır”, was published in 2018.

Minister of Industry and Technology Mustafa Varank made an official complaint to the prosecutor’s office after the book was published. The official complaint letter that made the denunciation was sent to Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office by President Tayyip Erdoğan’s attorney Ahmet Özel, too. Özel, made a denunciation for the accusation of “insulting the president” for the same book.

Official complaint, given for Varank, claims that the “insult crime was committed” on the 152nd page of the book with the part titled “Varank: A brave man comes on the stage and throws down the gauntlet”.

The indictment against journalist Ahmet Sever was prepared by Press Related Crimes Bureau of Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office on November 23, 2018 due to the complaint of Minister of Industry and Technology Mustafa Varank.

Subject matter thread was titled: “Varank: A brave man comes on the stage and throws down the gauntlet”. In this part, details of a phone call Varank had with President Tayyip Erdoğan’s daughter were shared. It was claimed that the tape record that allegedly belonged to the said phone call was “correct”. The indictment claimed that “it was unclear how the tape record was obtained”.

The book claimed that Varank “was shown as the superior giving orders to the internet trolls”.

It was claimed that by “showing Varank as the superior giving orders to internet trolls” the accused crime was committed.

With the indictment, Sever was accused of “publicly insulting a public officer due to the performance of his public duty” according to the article 125 of the Turkish Penal Code. He was requested to be sentenced to, from one year two months to two years four months of imprisonment. Sever was also requested to be “bereaved of specific rights” according to the article 53 Turkish Penal Code.

The indictment was approved by Istanbul 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance.

First hearing of the case was held on March 21, 2019 at Istanbul 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance.

Sever’s attorney Göktaş, with the petition he submitted, stated that Sever was abroad and requested his statement to be taken abroad. Judge ruled to write an official request to the Ministry of Justice in order to take Sever’s statement abroad.

Next three hearings of the case were adjourned in order to wait for the result of the official dispatch to take Sever’s statement abroad.

Fifth hearing of the case was to be held on May 14, 2020. However, the hearing was adjourned due to the measures taken against the “coronavirus” pandemics in Turkey.

The sixth hearing was held on September 15th, 2020. The journalist Ahmet Sever did not attend. Sever was represented at the hearing by his lawyer Oya Aydın Göktaş.

In the previous hearings, the court had requested that Sever’s defense be received in the country where he lived. However, the request was not met.

With the onset of the Court Year 2020-2021, a previously lifted practice has been reintroduced. Accordingly, prosecutors can once again participate in hearings at the criminal courts of first instance. Their presence in these hearings had been ended in 2011. As such, the hearing prosecutor attended Sever’s trial. The hearing prosecutor demanded that the shortcoming in the case file be remedied. Sever’s lawyer Oya Aydın Göktaş requested that her client’s defense statement be taken overseas. The court accepted the request.

The seventh hearing took place on December 3rd, 2020. The panel of judges had not changed. Sever did not attend the hearing. His lawyer did not attend, presenting an excuse. The lawyer of the complainant minister, Mustafa Varank, did not attend, presenting an excuse. The court ruled to await the dispatch of the documents necessary to receive Sever’s defense abroad.

The trial was adjourned until the seventh hearing on March 23rd, 2021.

Contact: pressinarrest@gmail.com

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