"Media Structure" Trial

The Republic of Turkey held the structure known as the Fethullah Gülen Congregation responsible for the military coup attempt of 15 July 2016. The National Security Council determined on 20 July 2016 that the military coup attempt “was initiated by FETÖ via its members within the Turkish Armed Forces.”

The structure, which was stated to have secretly organised within government agencies for years, was first described as a “terrorist organisation” by a court in 2014, and later in the recommendations of the National Security Council of 27 May 2016. The National Security Council, which formerly described the structure as an “illegal parallel structure”, named it the “Fethullah Terrorist Organisation and Parallel State Structure – FETÖ-PDY” in its July memorandum.

Following the attempted coup, investigations and trials were launched, and orders for arrest and detention were issued for many individuals who were claimed to be “affiliated” with this structure. As part of these investigations, a large number of journalists and writers were placed in custody and/or detained in many provinces of Turkey due to allegations of “membership of Fethullah Terrorist Organisation (FETÖ)” and “knowingly or willingly aiding the organisation despite not being a member of FETÖ”. Investigations and prosecutions were carried out during the State of Emergency (OHAL) declared soon after the attempted coup.

Zaman newspaper, Samanyolu TV, Cihan News Agency and many other newspapers, television and radio channels and internet news portals were shut down on the similar allegations by Statutory Decrees (KHK) that were put into effect without the parliament’s approval.

In this context, Terrorism and Organised Crime Investigation Bureau of the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office of Istanbul launched an investigation against 89 journalists and media workers on allegations of “membership of FETÖ/PDY”. The names of people who were placed in custody and the details of the investigation were communicated through the public broadcaster Anadolu Agency, and published on the website of Sabah newspaper.

Although many journalists were detained under the same investigation in July 2016, they stood trial based on different indictments. For example, Mümtazer Türköne, Şahin Alpay, Ali Bulaç and many other journalists stood trial as part of the “Zaman Newspaper Court Case”, whereas Nazlı Ilıcak, Ahmet Altan, Mehmet Altan, Bülent Keneş, Mehmet Kamış and many other journalists were tried within the case publicly known as the “Subliminal Coup Messages Court Case”.

It was asserted that 27 journalists against whom an investigation was launched and who worked for Millet, Zaman, Yeni Hayat and Bugün newspapers and Rotanews and Samanyolu News websites were affiliated with the “FETÖ media structure”. Some journalists were detained in raids on their homes on 25 and 26 July 2016. However, some journalists could not be detained in raids. These journalists were detained later.

Journalists detained on different dates were taken to the Gayrettepe Public Security Branch Office of the Istanbul Directorate of Security. Custody procedures lasted for three to four days. Following the custody procedures, the journalists were taken to the Çağlayan Courthouse.

Journalists Abdullah Kılıç, Ali Akkuş, Bayram Kaya, Bünyamin Köseli, Cihan Acar, Cuma Ulus, Emre Soncan, Habip Güler, Hanım Büşra Erdal, Hüseyin Aydın, Mustafa Erkan Acar, Seyid Kılıç, Ufuk Şanlı, Yakup Çetin and Cemal Azmi Kalyoncu were remanded on 29 July 2016. Atilla Taş, Gökçe Fırat Çulhaoğlu, Murat Aksoy and Mutlu Çölgeçen were remanded on 2 September 2016. Muhammet Sait Kuloğlu and Yetkin Yıldız were remanded on 24 July 2016, Ahmet Memiş, Halil İbrahim Balta and Oğuz Usluer were remanded on 25 July, 2 August and 28 December 2016 respectively.

The journalists were remanded on charges of “membership of an armed terrorist organisation” and “knowingly or willingly aiding the organisation despite not being a member of the armed terrorist organisation”. The detention orders were issued by the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 9th and 10th Criminal Courts of Peace of Istanbul. The journalists were taken to the Bakırköy Closed Security Prison for Women and the Silivri Closed High Security Prison.

Bülent Ceyhan, Said Sefa and Ünal Tanık were not detained and placed in custody as they were abroad at the time.

Journalists remanded on various dates spent approximately one to five months in prison awaiting the indictment.

The indictment cited journalists’ jobs at the media organs that were shut down by statutory decrees as evidence of the charges. Witness testimonies against some journalists were also cited as evidence. The journalists were charged over their articles and news reports published in the listed media organs as well as their social media outputs.

The journalists were charged with “discrediting the struggle against the organisation that attempted the coup by describing it as ‘illegal’ and ‘cruel’”, “making various accusations against the President in accordance with the general attitude of the organisation”, and “providing public support for members of the organisation by manipulating public’s tendency to protect the oppressed” in their articles, news reports and outputs.

The indictment concerning the journalists was completed on 16 January 2017. The indictment charged journalists with “membership of an armed organisation” in accordance with Article 314/2 of the Turkish Penal Code. The prosecution demanded that journalists be sentenced to imprisonment of between five years and 10 years.

The indictment also charged Said Sefa, for whose arrest a warrant was issued while he was abroad, with “attempting to destroy the government of the Republic of Turkey or to prevent it from fulfilling its responsibilities partially or entirely by means coercion and violence” in accordance with Article 312/1 of the Turkish Penal Code. The prosecution demanded that Sefa be sentenced to an aggravated life sentence.

The indictment was accepted by the 27th High Criminal Court. The journalists had spent four to eight months in prison when they were brought before the judge for the first hearing on 27-31 March 2017.

The prosecutor for the hearing demanded that 13 journalists be released pending trial at the last hearing of the trial on 31 March 2017. The court added eight more journalists to the 13 people whose release pending trial was demanded. 21 journalists, Abdullah Kılıç, Ahmet Memiş, Ali Akkuş, Atilla Taş, Bayram Kaya, Bünyamin Köseli, Cemal Azmi Kalyoncu, Cihan Acar, Cuma Ulus, Gökçe Fırat Çulhaoğlu, Habip Güler, Halil İbrahim Balta, Hanım Büşra Erdal, Hüseyin Aydın, Muhammet Sait Kuloğlu, Murat Aksoy, Mustafa Erkan Acar, Oğuz Usluer, Seyid Kılıç, Yakup Çetin and Yetkin Yıldız were released. The court prohibited the journalists from travelling abroad. The court ruled that Emre Soncan, Mutlu Çölgeçen, Ufuk Şanlı and Ünal Tanık would remain in custody.

A series of developments took place on 31 March 2017 between the announcement of the ruling was declared and the early hours of the following day.

Cem Küçük, who wrote columns for newspapers known to have adopted a pro-government publishing policy, stated the following in his social media account: “Every prosecutor and judge will be discharged from duty who ordered the release of apparent FETÖ members. This is the state’s definitive judgment. Everybody should know it.” He also stated the following: “The Ministry of Justice and the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors started to take action. God willing, the traitors will not be set free.”

The prosecutor for the hearing objected to the release of eight journalists, Hanım Büşra Erdal, Ahmet Memiş, Bayram Kaya, Cemal Azmi Kalyoncu, Cuma Ulus, Habip Güler, Halil İbrahim Balta and Muhammet Said Kuloğlu, who were released by the court even though the prosecutor had not demanded their release, on the same day, 31 March 2017. The prosecutor for the hearing asserted in its objection regarding the release of the eight journalists whose release had not been demanded by the prosecution “evidence against the defendants was not collected fully” and “the release order was nonprocedural and illegal”.

The prosecutor’s demand was processed on the same day by the 26th High Criminal Court of Istanbul, the upper court for the 27th High Criminal Court of Istanbul, which issued the release order. Despite the release order, eight journalists were not released from prison and were remanded in custody again.
On the other hand, another investigation was launched on the same day concerning 13 journalists who release had been demanded by the prosecutor and ruled affirmatively by the court. The prosecutor charged Atilla Taş, Murat Aksoy, Ali Akkuş, Hüseyin Aydın, Mustafa Erkan Acar, Seyid Kılıç and Yetkin Yıldız with “attempting a coup”, and Gökçe Fırat Çulhaoğlu, Yakup Çetin, Bünyamin Köseli, Cihan Acar, Abdullah Kılıç and Oğuz Usluer with “membership of an armed terrorist organisation”.

Thus, none of the journalists concerning whom a release order was issued on 31 March 2017 were released.

The journalists for whose release an order was issued were taken to the Istanbul Directorate of Security on Vatan Boulevard while their families waited for them outside Silivri High Security Prison. The custody procedures here lasted for approximately two weeks.

12 out of 13 journalists who were detained again after their release were brought before the court following the custody procedures on 14 April 2017. They were remanded on the same day on charges of “attempting to destroy the constitutional order” and “attempting to destroy the Government of the Republic of Turkey” by the 2nd Criminal Court of Peace of Istanbul.

The arrest warrant included the “risk of flight” of the journalists as justification. However, the court had prohibited the journalists from travelling abroad in its release order.

Ali Akkuş who was detained despite the release order was released pending trial following the custody procedures.

The president and two members of the panel of judges who issued release orders for 21 journalists at the first hearing of the trial were discharged from duty by the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors. Cem Küçük, who wrote columns for newspapers known to have adopted a pro-government publishing policy had stated the following in his social media account: “Every prosecutor and judge will be discharged from duty who ordered the release of apparent FETÖ members..”

Following these incidents, the second hearing of the trial took place on 27 April 2017.

At this hearing, the court heard witnesses testify about the journalists.

The third hearing of the trial took place on 6 July 2017. The panel of judges rejected in its interim decision the demands of remanded journalists and their attorneys to be released at the end of the hearing.

SECOND INDICTMENT

The second indictment concerning the 13 journalists who were ordered to be released at the first hearing of the trial, but were detained again as part of a new investigation was presented to the court on 5 June 2017.

The second indictment by the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office of Istanbul charged journalists with “attempting to alter perceptions in line with the aims of the organisation by means of the written and visual media and the internet.”

It was asserted that the journalists had “stood against the operations directed at the Gülen Congregation following 17-25 December, and had supported the organisation.”

Three ministers in the Justice and Development Party government cabinet and their children were involved in allegations of corruption and bribery within the operation, publicly known as the “17-25 December bribery and corruption operation” launched at the end of 2013.

Several court rulings asserted that the journalists had active accounts with Bank Asya, which was claimed to be “the financial institution of FETÖ”.

It was asserted that some of the journalists “communicated with high level members of FETÖ over the phone”. It was asserted that some of them were ByLock application users. In the Court of Cassation rulings, the ByLock application was defined as “a communication network developed for the use of FETÖ/PDY armed terrorist organisation members”.

The indictment charged the journalists with “attempting to destroy the constitutional order by means of coercion and violence” and “attempting to destroy the Government of the Republic of Turkey by means of coercion and violence” in accordance with Article 309/1 and 312/1 of the Turkish Penal Code. The prosecution demanded that journalists be sentenced to two aggravated life sentences.

The first hearing of the trial for the second indictment took place on 16 August 2017. The court ordered the trial of the journalists to continue by merging the two indictments. Following the merging order, the court ruled that Bünyamin Köseli and Cihan Acar be released pending trial. Other defendants were once again remanded in custody.

The first hearing of the trial that continued after the two indictments were merged took place on 24-25 October 2017. The panel of judges had changed for the third time at this hearing of the trial. The hearing began with the president of the panel of judges reading the documents received by the court.

The report sent to the court by the Security General Directorate asserted that records of the ByLock application dating from 2014 were found on the mobile phones of Bülent Ceyhan, Mutlu Çölgeçen, Oğuz Usluer, Seyit Kılıç and Ufuk Şanlı. Usluer and Kılıç denied the ByLock allegation.

The second session of this hearing took place on 25 October 2017. In this session, reports regarding allegations about Bank Asya accounts were presented to court. It was stated that six people including Atilla Taş did not have accounts with Bank Asya, four detained defendants had suspicious Bank Asya accounts, and other defendants had Bank Asya accounts, but there were no signs of activity incompatible with the conduct of normal daily affairs.

At the end of the trial, the court ruled that Atilla Taş and Murat Aksoy be released pending trial.

The second hearing of the trial that continued after the two indictments were merged took place on 3-4 December 2017. Six witnesses were heard at the hearing. The court ruled all defendants should remain in custody.

The third hearing of the trial took place on 8 February 2018. The prosecutor presented the opinion of the prosecution as to the accusations at this hearing.

The opinion of the prosecution demanded that journalists Abdullah Kılıç, Ali Akkuş, Atilla Taş, Bünyamin Köseli, Cihan Acar, Oğuz Usluer, Murat Aksoy, Gökçe Fırat Çulhaoğlu, Hüseyin Aydın, Yakup Çetin, Yetkin Yıldız, Seyid Kılıç, and Mustafa Erkan Acar be released on the charges of “attempting to destroy the constitutional order by means of coercion and violence” and “attempting to destroy the Government of the Republic of Turkey by means of coercion and violence”.

However, the prosecution demanded that Murat Aksoy and Gökçe Fırat Çulhaoğlu be sentenced on the charges of “knowingly and willingly aiding the armed terrorist organisation despite not being members of its hierarchical structure”.

The prosecution also demanded that Bayram Kaya, Cemal Azmi Kalyoncu, Cihan Acar, Cuma Ulus, Emre Soncan, Habip Güler, Halil İbrahim Balta, Hanım Büşra Erdal, Ufuk Şanlı, Mutlu Çölgeçen, Ahmet Memiş, Ünal Tanık, Bünyamin Köseli, Muhammet Sait Kuloğlu, Yetkin Yıldız, Yakup Çetin, Seyit Kılıç, Mustafa Erkan Acar, Hüseyin Aydın, Abdullah Kılıç, Ali Akkuş, Oğuz Usluer and Atilla Taş be sentenced on the charges of “membership of an armed terrorist organisation”.
The prosecutor’s office demanded that the case files of Bülent Ceyhan and Said Sefa, who were abroad at the time and subject to arrest warrants, be separated.

Following the opinion of the prosecution, journalists’ attorneys objected to the sentence demanded despite the existence of some evidence being in favour of the journalists. Attorneys also stated that there was no tangible evidence concerning the charge of “membership of a terrorist organisation”.
At the end of the hearing, the court ruled that Halil İbrahim Balta be released under judicial supervision due to health problems.

The final hearing of the trial took place on 7-8 March 2018. At the end of the hearing, the journalists were asked about their final say regarding the opinion of the prosecution. The panel of judges then ruled that 23 defendants be sentenced on charges of “membership of an armed terrorist organisation”.

The court ruled to acquit Ali Akkuş, Abdullah Kılıç, Bünyamin Köseli, Atilla Taş, Cihan Acar, Gökçe Fırat Çulhaoğlu, Hüseyin Aydın, Murat Aksoy, Mustafa Erkan Acar, Oğuz Usluer, Seyid Kılıç, Yakup Çetin and Yetkin Yıldız of the charges of “attempting to destroy the constitutional order by means of coercion and violence” and “attempting to destroy the Government of the Republic of Turkey by means of coercion and violence”.

The journalists who were released at the first hearing of the trial and detained once more on grounds of the second investigation were thereby acquitted of charges asserted in the second indictment.

The prosecution demanded that journalists Abdullah Kılıç, Bayram Kaya, Bünyamin Köseli, Cemal Azmi Kalyoncu, Cihan Acar, Habip Güler, Halil İbrahim Balta, Hanım Büşra Erdal, Hüseyin Aydın, Yakup Çetin and Gökçe Fırat Çulhaoğlu be sentenced to imprisonment of six years and three months on the charges of “membership of an armed terrorist organisation”.

The prosecution demanded that journalists Ahmet Memiş, Ali Akkuş, Muhammet Sait Kuloğlu, Mustafa Erkan Acar, Mutlu Çölgeçen, Oğuz Usluer, Seyid Kılıç, Ufuk Şanlı, Ünal Tanık, Yetkin Yıldız and Cuma Ulus be sentenced to imprisonment of seven years and six months on the charges of “membership of an armed terrorist organisation”.

Atilla Taş was sentenced to imprisonment of three years, one month and 15 days on charges of “knowingly and willingly aiding the armed terrorist organisation despite not being a member of its hierarchical structure”. The prosecution demanded that Murat Aksoy be sentenced to imprisonment of two years and one month on the same charges. However, the indictment had charged journalists with “membership of an armed terrorist organisation”.

The court also ruled that defendants should remain in custody. The journalists had been remanded pending trial for approximately for 20 months when the local court ruled on their prison sentences.

Following the verdict, the court ruled that Ali Akkuş, who was released pending trial, be remanded again.

The Appeals Process

The journalists’ attorneys launched an appeal against the imprisonment sentences at the court of appeals.

The Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office of Istanbul launched an appeal against the ruling concerning Atilla Taş and Murat Aksoy on the charges of “knowingly and willingly aiding the armed terrorist organisation despite not being a member of its hierarchical structure”.

The appeals process for all applications were examined by the 2nd Penal Chamber of the Istanbul Circuit Courts of Appeals. The Chamber delivered its ruling on 22 October 2018.

The Chamber rejected journalists’ appeals in substance. The ruling found that the verdict of the local court was lawful according to the rules and procedures. It was asserted that “the evidence contained in the file was sufficient to establish the crime”.

However, the Chamber rejected the prosecutor’s objection concerning the verdicts for Murat Aksoy and Atilla Taş.

The prison sentence concerning Aksoy and Taş was finalised following the rejection of attorneys’ appeals and prosecutor’s objections. Following the finalisation of the verdict, the two journalists were placed back in prison. Aksoy and Taş had been released from prison on 4 January 2019 and 8 February 2019 respectively on probation.

Other journalists launched an appeal against the ruling at the Court of Cassation.

The Court of Cassation Process

The defendants who were given prison sentences longer than five years by the local court launched an appeal at the Court of Cassation.

The appeals process was carried out by the 16th Penal Chamber of The Court of Cassation. Attorneys demanded that the appeals process be carried out by means of hearings. However, their demands were rejected. The Chamber delivered its ruling on 16 March 2020.

The ruling approved the prison sentences given to Abdullah Kılıç, Hanım Büşra Erdal, Bayram Kaya, Bünyamin Köseli, Cihan Acar, Cuma Ulus, Habip Güler, Halil İbrahim Balta, Hüseyin Aydın, Muhammet Sait Kuloğlu, Murat Aksoy, Mustafa Erkan Acar, Mutlu Çölgeçen, Oğuz Usluer, Seyid Kılıç and Ufuk Şanlı.

The Court of Cassation ruled that the procedures concerning the journalists were carried out lawfully, all evidence was collected in accordance with the law, and the defensive statements were heard in full. It stated that the verdict was based on unequivocal, consistent and non-conflicting data.

The prison sentences handed out to the mentioned journalists were finalised. The journalists had been in prison for three years and seven months when the prison sentences were finalised.

Imprisonment sentences concerning journalists Ahmet Memiş, Cemal Azmi Kalyoncu, Gökçe Fırat Çulhaoğlu, Ünal Tanık, Yakup Çetin and Yetkin Yıldız on charges of “membership of an armed terrorist organisation” were overturned by the Court of Cassation. The ruling of the Court of Cassation stated that the local court “erred in the classification of the offence”. It was stated that “the acts of the six journalists were not adequate to establish them as members of the organisation”. The ruling stated that the journalists should have been prosecuted on the charges of “aiding an armed terrorist organisation” instead of “membership of an armed terrorist organisation”.

The Court of Cassation overturned the verdict on Atilla Taş. It was stated that the local court “erred in the classification of the offence” concerning Taş. The ruling stated that the actions forming the basis of the accusations against Taş constituted the crime of “publicly holding state institutions and organs in contempt” in accordance with Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code and “defamation of the President” in accordance with Article 299 of the Turkish Penal Code.

The Court of Cassation also overturned the local court’s verdict on Ali Akkuş. The ruling stated that Ali Akkuş “displayed the will to leave when he learned that the organisation had turned into a terrorist organisation after working for an organisation that had connections with FETÖ/PDY and his defence should be discussed after examination”.

The Court of Cassation also ruled that Ali Akkuş be acquitted and released. Ali Akkuş was released based on the ruling.

The Constitutional Court Process

Some of the prosecuted journalists appealed to the Constitutional Court on different dates claiming their rights had been violated.

Journalist Abdullah Kılıç filed an application with the Constitutional Court while in custody, awaiting the indictment to be completed on 27 September 2016. He made a second application on 26 April 2018 following the prison sentence verdict. In his applications, Kılıç claimed that “his right to freedom and security had been violated due to his detention not being lawful” and “the ruling for a detention order along with the sentence not being in accordance with the law”. The Constitutional Court evaluated the applications by merging the two files. The court delivered its ruling on 8 January 2020. The court ruled that “Kılıç’s right to freedom and security” had been violated with the second detention. The court ruled that Kılıç be paid TRY 25,000 in compensation. The Constitutional Court rejected Kılıç’s claims of “the detention not being lawful” and “the court that evaluated the objection concerning the ruling of the detention along with the sentence not being impartial”.

Atilla Taş filed his first application to the Constitutional Court immediately following his initial detention on 26 October 2016. He made a second application while the prosecution was underway on 29 November 2016. He made a third application to the Constitutional Court following his release and rearrest on 23 May 2017. In all three applications, he claimed that “the detention measures were not legal” and “the detention period exceeded the reasonable time”. He claimed that “his right to freedom and security had been violated due to the restriction of access to the investigation file, and the freedom of speech and press had been violated due to journalistic activities and acts that fell under the freedom of speech being subjected to detention “. The Constitutional Court delivered its ruling concerning the three applications on 29 May 2019.

The court ruled that the right to freedom and security guaranteed by the Constitution had not been violated in the first detention; however the second detention was ruled to have violated this right. The court ruled that Taş’s freedom of speech and press had not been violated. The court ruled that Taş be paid TRY 25,000 in compensation.

Journalist Murat Aksoy filed applications with the Constitutional Court while on remand on 29 November 2016 and 23 May 2017. He demanded the court to determine “whether the right to freedom and security had been violated”, claiming that “the detention and custody measures were not lawful, and his access to the investigation file was restricted”. Aksoy also claimed that “his freedom of speech and press had been violated due to journalistic activities and acts that fell under the freedom of speech were subjected to the detention process”. The Constitutional Court delivered its ruling by merging the two applications. The court delivered its ruling after Aksoy’s sentence was finalised on 2 May 2019. The court ruled that Aksoy’s “right to freedom and security” and “freedom of speech and press” had been violated. The court also ruled that Aksoy be paid TRY 40,000 in compensation.

In his applications dated 5 February 2018 and 24 April 2018, journalist Yetkin Yıldız also asserted that “his right to freedom and security had been violated” due to having been detained twice. The Constitutional Court delivered its ruling on 23 June 2020. The court ruled that “the right to freedom and security had been violated” due to having been detained for the second time after release. The court ruled that Yıldız be paid TRY 25,000 in compensation.

Journalist Cihan Acar field an application with the Constitutional Court on 22 May 2017. He claimed that “the right to security”, “the freedom of press”, “the right to respect for privacy and family life” and “the right to a fair trial” had been violated. The court ruled on 27 February 2020 that the rights of Acar had been violated due to having been detained for the second time after his release. The court ruled that Acar be paid TRY 30,000 in compensation.

Journalist Bayram Kaya filed an application with the Constitutional Court on 16 June 2017, while the prosecution was underway. He filed a second application after the local court ruled on his prison sentence on 29 March 2018. He demanded the court to find that “the detention and custody measures were not lawful”, “the detention period exceeded reasonable time”, and “the detention process was against the principles of impartial and independent trial”. He claimed that “his freedom of speech and press” had been violated due to his press card being revoked. The Constitutional Court delivered its ruling on 28 November 2018. The court rejected all claims of Bayram Kaya. The court rejected the claims of “the detention period not being reasonable”, “the objections to the continuation of detention not being evaluated” and “the violation of freedom of speech and press due to his press card being revoked”.

Journalist Hanım Büşra Erdal filed an application with the Constitutional Court while being tried on remand on 4 October 2017. Erdal claimed that “the right to freedom and security” and “the right to a fair trial” had been violated. In its ruling dated 9 June 2020, the Constitutional Court rejected Erdal’s claims of right violations.

The Retrial Process

Following the Court of Cassation’s overturning of the verdicts for the eight journalists, the file was sent to the 25th High Criminal Court of Istanbul for retrial.

The decision overturning the verdicts for journalists was uploaded to the National Judiciary Informatics System on 8 June 2020.

Before the first hearing of the retrial, the court ruled for the release of six out of eight journalists pending trial. The court ruled on 15 June 2020 that the journalists Ahmet Memiş, Cemal Azmi Kalyoncu, Gökçe Fırat Çulhaoğlu, Ünal Tanık, Yakup Çetin and Yetkin Yıldız be released.

The mentioned six journalists had been in prison for three years and 10 months when they were released.

Abdullah Kılıç, Habip Güler and Bayram Kaya were released after having completed their sentences on 10 September 2020.

The trial against the eight journalists was launched with the first hearing at Istanbul 25th High Criminal Court, on November 4th, 2020. Journalists attended the hearing with his lawyers.

The hearing prosecutor requested that the court abide by Court of Cassation’s decision to overrule the verdict.

The panel of judges stated that the witness statement against the journalists by Hüseyin Gülerce, a former columnist for the now shuttered Zaman Newspaper, was added to the file.

Following the interim decision, the journalists delivered their first defense statement under the scope of the retrial process.

All journalists demanded that their probation be lifted.

The court rejected the journalists’ request for the lifting of their probations.

The court also ordered to demand permission from the Ministry of Justice for charging Atilla Taş with “insulting the President” and “publicly denigrating the Turkish nation, republic, parliament, government and judiciary.”

The retrial will continue with the second hearing scheduled for March 31st, 2021.

Contact: pressinarrest@gmail.com

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