Fatih Polat - "Violation of Confidentiality of Communication” Trial

The article “I can incite the MP’s and solve this”, was published in Evrensel Daily on February 22, 2010.

The article was about the talk between the then Ankara Mayor Melih Gökçek and AKP MP Burhan Kuzu. Details of the talk were talked widely in social media and various press organisations.

The article, which was based on the phone call, claimed that Melih Gökçek asked for Burhan Kuzu’s help prior to a possible imprisonment sentence against him. It was stated that Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office had launched an investigation against Gökçek in June 2019 for “misconduct in office” on the grounds of not obeying the judicial decision regarding the structure surrounding the USA Embassy.

It was claimed that Gökçek, in the phone call, had stated that he was being tried according to the article 240 of the Turkish Penal Code. It was claimed Gökçek had asked Kuzu to make adjustments in the law and drop the charges against him.

All these allegations were made news at Evrensel Daily as well. After the articles were published, Gökçek filed an official complaint against the paper. Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s office launched an investigation against the then chief clerk of Evrensel Fatih Polat.

According to the indictment, Polat, in the statement he gave during the investigation and custody, stated that the content of the phone call was published by Akşam Daily and many other webpages on February 21, 2010. He said he published it as it was newsworthy.

The indictment against Polat was completed on April 6, 2010.

The indictment claimed that the article “had crossed the limits of information and freedom of expression”.

It was claimed that the content of the talk between Melih Gökçek and Burhan Kuzu, was taken without permission, published through press and “violated the confidentiality of communication”.

The indictment stated that according to the Press Law, if the author is unknown the editor in charge is held responsible.

The indictment accused Polat of “Unlawfully disclosing the content of communication between persons” according to the article 132/2 of the Turkish Penal Code. He was requested to be sentenced to, from two years to five years of imprisonment. Polat was also requested to be “bereaved of specific rights” according to the article 53 Turkish Penal Code.

Trial of Polat started after the indictment was accepted. However the trial was postponed by the courts decision. According to the legislative regulation passed ing July 2012, which was the base of the decision; a decision of non prosecution was to be given if another crime was not committed during the 3 year time period. Otherwise the trial was to continue.

However Polat was charged with for another article. Therefore the trial of Polat, which was postponed in 2012, restarted.

The retrial of Polat started at Istanbul 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance.

Second hearing of the case was held on September 13, 2018. Polat stated that the article was published in Akşam Daily, a day before it was published in Evrensel Daily. Polat, underlined that the subject matter call records were made news in many other places and reminded the “Watergate Scandal” in the USA which caused President Richard Nixon’s resignation:

“If the call records are about persons’ communication and personal life, a journalist can not make news of that. However, if the records are about an elected or appointed person’s communication concerning the public, then a journalist can make news of that.”

Court ruled for an expert to detect whether the article was published before Evrensel Daily.

Third hearing of the case was held on December 6, 2018. It was stated that the previously-requested expert report had not arrived yet. The hearing was postponed.

Fourth hearing of the case was held on March 7, 2019. It was stated that the expert report, requested at the second hearing, had arrived to the court. According to that, the expert detected that the subject matter article was published in eight different webpages before Evrensel Daily.

The court ruled for Polat’s acquittal.

Documents

Indictment

Journalists
Fatih Polat

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