Harun Çümen, former editor-in-chief of the shuttered Zaman Newspaper, was detained on March 4, 2018 and arrested on March 7, 2018. He is currently in Balıkesir Prison. The indictment against Çümen and three other individuals was drafted on October 1, 2018. The indictment was accepted by Istanbul 32. High Criminal Court.
In the indictment it was stated that Çümen “had an account at Bank Asya, was a member of the trade union called PAK MEDYA İŞ SENDİKASI, and had four phone calls with a senior leader of FETÖ/PDY” and that he was registered to the Social Security Institution by the company Feza Gazetecilik A.Ş. which was “sanctioned for alleged links to the armed terror group FETÖ/PDY”.
In his defense provided in the indictment, Çümen stated that after graduating from Istanbul University in 1996, he began working as an intern reporter at Zaman Newspaper, and had risen to the position of managing editor at the newspaper, where he worked until 2016. He explained that “I was practically obliged to join the said trade union as a Zaman Newspaper employee.” He indicated that the said individual he talked to on the phone was simply the editor-in-chief of Zaman Newspaper. He added that he had come to Keşan on March 4, 2018 to purchase olives and olive oil.
“I worked at Zaman newspaper, the media arm of the said organization, only to make a living. I have these connections due to my work. After the newspaper was closed down, I could not receive my severance pay. I am an injured party for this reason”, he added. He stated that he had no information about the individuals mentioned in the indictment who were detained in another vehicle on the same day in Keşan, allegedly trying to go abroad. he pleaded not guilty for the charges in the indictment.
The first hearing was held on January 8, 2019, and at the last hearing held on July 18, 2019, Çümen was sentenced to 7 years, 6 months in prison on charges of “membership of a terrorist organization.”