In the lawsuit where 14 employees of Özgürlükçü Demokrasi newspaper, which was closed on July 8, 2018 with Decree Law no. 701, stood trial, three journalists were sentenced to prison for “aiding a terrorist organization without being its member”, and one journalist for “aiding a terrorist organization without being its member” and “spreading propaganda for a terrorist organization”.
The arrest warrants against the defendants were issued on March 18, 2018. In the indictment drafted by Istanbul Public Prosecutor, some news stories published in January, February and March 2018 were presented as criminal. All of these stories criticized the military operation by the Turkish Armed Forces into the Afrin region of Syria. The stories in question were “Savaş Çığırtkanlığına Hayır” (“No to Jingoism” - January 20, 2018), “Dünya Efrin Günü” (“World Afrin Day” - January 28, 2018) “Birlikteyiz Efrin’deyiz” (“We are together, we are in Efrin” - February 25, 2018), “Sur ve Kabataş’tan Sonra Efrin’de de Aynı Mizansen” (“The Scenario in Sur and Kabataş Reproduced in Efrin” - February 26, 2018), “Ateşkes Riyakarlığı” (“Cease Fire Hypocrisy” - February 28, 2018).
The newspaper’s editors Mehmet Ali Çelebi, Reyhan Hacıoğlu, Hicran Urun and İshak Yasul were each sentenced to 3 years, 1 month, 15 days for “aiding a terrorist organization”. Yasul was further sentenced to 1 year, 6 months, 22 days for “propaganda for a terrorist organization”.
The decision was appealed in the Court Of Appeal.
The files of the journalists Fırat Benli, Yılmaz Yıldız, Ersin Çaksu, Günay Aksoy and Önder Elaldı, for whom arrest warrants were issued, were separated from this case.