İdris Sayılğan – “Membership of an Armed Terrorist Organization” Trial

A graduate of Mersin UNiversity, Faculty of Communications, the journalist İdris Sayılğan worked between 2014-2016 for the Dicle News Agency, which would later be shut down by a Decree Law. In the morning of October 16, 2016, he was taken into custody with a police raid on his house for his interviews and phone calls with news sources and the articles published during his stint at DİHA as well as his social media posts. Sayılğan was detained for seven days alone in a cell, and prevented from contacting his lawyer. On October 24, 2016, he was arrested along with five other individuals on charges of “membership of a terrorist organization”.

After spending two weeks in Muş Prison, he was transferred to Trabzon E-Type Prison, 450 km away from his family home, without any justification. Muş Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office completed the investigation 9 months after Sayılğan’s arrest and drafted the indictment. Public Prosecutor, who prepared the indictment, demanded that Sayılğan be sentenced to prison for 7.5 to 15 years, for “membership of a terrorist organization”. Prosecutor, based his claim of “membership of a terrorist organization” on Sayılğan’s 65 telephone conversations with news sources. The other five people who were tried together with Sayılğan on the same charges appeared before the judge on November 8, 2017, 13 months after being arrested. In none of the five hearings was Sayılğan brought before the judge.

Due to his long detention and the absence of efficient legal proceedings, Sayılğan’s lawyers, that is Veysel Ok and Barış Oflas from Association of Media and Legal Studies (MLSA) filed his individual application with the Constitutional Court on July 11, 2018. In the application it was stated that Sayılğan’s news stories and related interviews ought to be considered as falling within the limits of the freedom of press, and that Sayılğan was being discriminated against for working at DİHA, resulting in a violation of his personal security and freedom, safety of his private life, right to fair trial, and freedom of expression. However, the Constitutional Court did not announce a verdict. In response, lawyers from MLSA and from London-based organization for the freedom of press, Media Legal Defence Initiative (MLDI) filed an application with the European Court of Human Rights for journalist İdris Sayılğan who was in prison for over 2 years, on October 9. The application file points to a violation of the provisions of Articles 5, 6, 10, 13 and 18 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), namely the right to freedom and security, the right to a fair trial, freedom of expression, and the right to an effective remedy.

It was also emphasized that Sayılğan was detained solely for his interviews with news sources, and for the news he penned, in a clear violation of his rights to freedom of expression, and of the rights of personal security and freedom. Furthermore, it was underlined that Sayılğan is a journalist, thus demanding that the Court give priority to his case. This is the first time in Turkey that an international organization gives its support to the ECHR application by a journalist.

Sayılğan was sentenced to 8 years 3 months of imprisonment in the 6th hearing of the case at January 25th, 2019 for the accusation of “membership of an armed terrorist organisation”. The decision was taken to the appeal court by Sayılğan’s attorneys.

Erzurum Regional Court of Justice, 2nd Criminal Chambers took the files in to consideration at November 27th, 2019. With the consideration, Sayılğan was released. Sayılğan left the Trabzon Prison after 1,137 days of imprisonment.



İdris Sayılğan


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