Journalist Abdulkadir Turay was a correspondent for the Dicle News Agency, which was closed down in October 2016 by a decree law. He had begun his journalism career at the same agency.
Turay was taken into custody on May 5, 2016, during a raid on his house in Mardin’s Savur district. After four days in custody, he was arrested on May 8 on allegations of “membership of a terrorist organization” on orders from the Mardin First Criminal Court of Peace.
He was transported to Mardin E-Type Closed Prison.
On January 18, 2017, prosecutor Vural Eker completed the indictment against 10 individuals, including Turay. In the indictment, he was charged with “membership of a terrorist organization.” The Mardin Second High Criminal Court accepted the indictment. In the indictment, Turay’s telephone calls as well as his television appearances were presented as evidence in support of the indictment.
At the final hearing on September 26, 2018, Turay was sentenced to 9 years in prison on charges of “membership of a terrorist organization.” His detention was continued with this ruling.
The case was taken to the Court of Appeal. The appeal process is ongoing. Turay and the other defendants were sentenced to a total of 65 years and 3 months in prison.
Turay is now held in Mardin E-Type Closed Prison as a prisoner on remand.
Abdulkadir Turay Üyelik Davası (İddianame)
An investigation was initiated against journalist Adnan Bilen in 2018 on allegations of “insulting the President of the Republic” with his social media posts, pursuant to Article 299 of the Turkish Penal Code. The investigation was conducted by the Van Public Prosecutor’s Office.
Prosecutor Özgur Katipkaya drafted the indictment. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan figured as “injured party” in the two-page indictment completed on February 25, 2019.
Bilen’s Facebook posts, on which the accusation was based, were also included in the indictment. According to the open research record dated May 16, 2017, Bilen’s two posts from 2015 and 2017 formed the grounds for accusation.
On December 31, 2017, Bilen had shared President Erdoğan’s family photo with the comment “A disgrace”; and on July 31, 2015, he had posted a photomontage featuring the President’s photo, titled “fascist agha”, with the comment “May Selo join the guerrilla, may Apo never speak again, and may Mağo Agha be pleased. Selahattin Demirtaş is such a nuisance. He can bother you even from thousands of miles away. Just look, President Tayyip Erdoğan is in China now, but still could not shake off the nuisance…”
The indictment states that the open-source research record is dated May 16, 2017; strikingly, this predates the first post forming the grounds for accusation.
Prosecutor Katipkaya stated the posts were “aimed at the honor and dignity of the injured party”, and requested that Bilen be punished under Article 299/1.2 of the Turkish Penal Code on “Insulting the President of the Republic.”
Van Fourth Criminal Court of First Instance accepted the indictment against Bilen and a lawsuit was filed. The date of the first hearing of the lawsuit was set as July 19, 2019. Judge Cengizhan Aksu presided over the hearing. Bilen was in attendance in the courtroom. The complainant President Tayyip Erdoğan’s lawyer Hüseyin Aydın submitted a petition to participate in the proceedings. Bilen, in his defense during the hearing stated, “I have worked as a journalist for 20 years. The texts forming the subject matter of the case belong to someone else. These texts are not degrading or humiliating, but only constitute a harsh criticism. Thousands of other people shared this text on the social media. However, a lawsuit has been filed against only me. Even the author who wrote the text has not been sued.”
The court adjourned the trial until November 8, 2019, 10:10 am.
A verdict was reached in this hearing. The court, considered the word “disgrace” that Bilen used against the President within the scope of the crime of “insulting the president” and ruled for a 7 thousand TL fine, and acquitted him for the “Faşo Ağa (a reference to a fascist movie character)” word.
Ahmet Altan is standing trial on allegations of “violating the confidentiality of investigation” and “attempting to influence the fair trial principle,” for his article “Mafyanın Dışında Kim Kaldı” (“Who Remains Out of the Mafia”) published in Taraf Newspaper on July 11, 2009.
In his article, Altan discussed an anti-“gang” operation by the Sakarya Police Department in the district of Akyazı. He claimed that the “gang” members investigated by the police were indeed relatives of the mayor of Akyazı, who was from AKP, and that Sakarya Police Chief Faruk Ünsal had informed the “gang” members that an operation was being launched against them.
In July 2009, the Sakarya Public Prosecutor’s Office started an investigation against Altan upon a complaint filed by Sakarya Police Chief Faruk Ünsal. In the indictment against Altan, completed on September 4, 2019, the prosecutor requested a prison sentence of 1 to 3 years pursuant to Article 285 of the Turkish Penal Code. Furthermore, he demanded that Altan be imposed a judicial fine under Article 288 of the Turkish Penal Code.
The Kadıköy Second Criminal Court of First Instance accepted the indictment. However, the investigation against Altan was suspended. Nonetheless, the case was later reopened when Altan was imposed a judicial fine in a separate case for “Insulting the President of the Republic.”
With the reopening of the case, the trial began at Istanbul Anadolu Second Criminal Court of First Instance. The first hearing of the trial took place on April 12, 2019, about 10 years after the indictment was drafted.
Judge Lokman Kazan informed Ahmet Altan that the charges of “attempting to influence the fair trial principle” could be dropped if he agreed to pay 1061 TL; however, Altan refused.
The next trial will be held on November 12, 2019.
Ahmet Altan - Gizliliği İhlal Davası (İddianame)
Ahmet Altan - Gizliliği İhlal Davası (Duruşma Tutanağı)
Ahmet Altan - Gizliliği İhlal Davası (Duruşma Tutanağı)
Ahmet Altan - Gizliliği İhlal Davası (Duruşma Tutanağı)
Ahmet Altan - Gizliliği İhlal Davası (Duruşma Tutanağı)
Ahmet Altan stood trial for his column titled “Büyük Savaş Başladı” (“The Great War Has Started) published on June 19, 2010 in Taraf Newspaper.
The said article was about a meeting between two members of the Court of Cassation concerning the release of the former Chief Public Prosecutor of Erzincan, İlhan Cihaner, and the promotion of a judge who would release Cihaner, as Head of Chamber in the Court of Cassation, which was covered by the press at the time. These two members of the Court of Cassation were detained on February 16, 2010 on the orders of Erzurum’s Specially Authorized Public Prosecutor Osman Şanal, who in turn would later be arrested under the scope of investigations against Fethullah Terrorist Organization (FETÖ). At the time of his detention, Cihaner was investigating the activities of the Fethullah Gülen Sect. The meeting that Ahmet Altan dwelled upon in his article concerned a discussion between two members of the Court of Cassation on a possible “scenario” of Cihaner’s release. Cihaner was indeed released on June 18, 2010, confirming this “scenario.”
Prosecutor Dursun Yılmaz, in the indictment he drafted on August 19, 2010, claimed that Altan “used expressions that were insulting the honor, dignity, and prestige of the plaintiffs, the article was humiliating and derogatory, and exceeded the limits of freedom of expression.”
The indictment cites İlhan Cihaner as the complainant, and Ersan Ülker, who was Head of the 11th Chamber of the Court of Cassation at the time, as the injured party. At the first hearing on May 21, 2019, Ahmet Altan’s lawyer submitted to the court a petition by İlhan Cihaner stating that he withdrew his complaint. From then on, İlhan Cihaner and Ersan Ülker figured as participants in the case.
During the trial, Cihaner did not attend the hearings. At the second hearing on September 17, 2019, Ahmet Altan was acquitted.
Ahmet Altan - Yargıtay Üyelerine Hakaret Davası (İddianame)
Ahmet Kanbal, a reporter for the Mesopotamia News Agency, was taken into custody on February 8, 2018 for his social media posts. After spending one day in custody, he appeared in court and was released.
Public Prosecutor Erol Sümer completed an indictment against Kanbal on March 26, 2018. In the 3-page indictment, 33 Tweets by Kanbal were cited as evidence. All of the Tweets concerned the “Operation Olive Branch” launched on January 20, 2018 by the Turkish Armed Forces into the Afrin province of northern Syria. Kanbal was charged with ”continuously spreading propaganda for a terrorist organization through the media.”
Upon the acceptance of the indictment by the İzmir Second High Criminal Court, a lawsuit was filed against him on charges of “spreading propaganda for a terrorist organization.”
The first hearing of the case was on November 20, 2018. Kanbal stated that his posts fell under the scope of journalistic activities:
“These cannot be seen as crimes. Had the prosecutor, who drafted the indictment, read the news mentioned in the tweets, he would have seen that they were all news articles. Even if I stand trial, I will continue to work as a journalist for peace. Journalism is a profession of courage not fear.”
At the hearing, the prosecutor stated his opinion that Kanbal was “continuously spreading propaganda for a terrorist organization through the media.” The hearing was postponed to February 26, 2019 after the defense lawyer requested additional time for preparation of defense against the prosecutor’s opinion as to the accusations.
At the final hearing of the trial, it was decided that the case file be sent to the Ministry of Justice, to be brought under the scope of Turkish Penal Code, Article 301. The trial will continue depending on the pending response from the Ministry of Justice.
In the scope this, Ministry of Justice did not allow an investigation against him to be tried. With the expected answer arriving from the Ministry, the trial continued. 4th hearing of the case was held at December 13th, 2019. At the end of the hearing ruled for Kanbal’s acquittal.
Ahmet Kanbal - Sosyal Medya Davası (İddianame)
Journalists Erdoğan Alayumat and Nuri Akman were taken into custody on July 13, 2017 on the grounds of “reasonable suspicion” while they were following a news story in the Islahiye district of Gaziantep. After 14 days in custody, the two journalists were referred to the Criminal Court of Peace for arrest.
Nuri Akman was released “on condition of judicial control.” However, Erdoğan Alayumat was arrested on charges of “being a member of a terrorist organization”, “aiding and abetting a terrorist organization”, “militia and support activities for a terrorist organization” and “disclosing the secrets of the Republic of Turkey.” During the court interrogation, they were questioned about their news articles, photos taken along the border, and journalistic discussions over the phone.
Hatay Public Prosecutor Tacettin Pınar completed the indictment for the case on November 3, 2017. The Second High Criminal Court accepted the indictment on November 23, 2017.
The first hearing of the case was held on February 2, 2018. The court ruled that the General Staff be consulted as to whether the photographs cited as evidence in the indictment are indeed “confidential documents of the state”, and that Alayumat’s detention and Nuri Akman’s judicial control would continue.
The second hearing was held on April 25. At this hearing, too, the court ruled to keep Alayumat in prison. Since the General Staff had not yet sent a written statement clarifying whether the campus photographed by the journalists was indeed used for military purposes, it was ruled that a new writ be issued. The trial was adjourned until May 24, 2017.
At the third hearing, the General Staff had still not sent a written statement as to whether the campus photographed by the journalists was “a forbidden military zone belonging to the state.” The court ruled to release Alayumat without judicial control and to continue the judicial control of Nuri Akman. The trial was adjourned until October 19, 2018.
Akman, Alayumat -Casusluk Davası (İddianame)
TRT News Coordinator Ali Ahmet Böken was taken into custody on August 11, 2016. He was accused of “placing FETÖ members in Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT) ” and “having TRT broadcast programs serving the purposes of FETÖ.”
The prosecutor requested a prison sentence of 7.5 to 15 years for “being a member of a terrorist organization.” He was sentenced to 9 years and 9 months in prison for alleged membership of an armed terrorist organization.
An appeal process is underway for the case.
An arrest order was issued for Ali Ünal, a former columnist at the shuttered Zaman Newspaper, under the scope of an investigation on ex-columnists and managers of the newspaper, based on allegations of “leading a terrorist organization”, namely “FETÖ / Fethullah Gülen Terrorist Organization - PDY / Parallel State Structure.”
Ünal was taken into custody in the Eşme district of Uşak on August 11, 2016. After five days in custody, he was arrested upon a ruling of Uşak Second Criminal Court of Peace, on charges of “attempting to overthrow the constitutional order” and “establishing or managing a terrorist organization.”
Uşak Public Prosecutor Elif İkiz completed a 300-page indictment against him on September 28, 2017. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was mentioned in the indictment as “the injured party.” Uşak Second High Criminal Court accepted the indictment, which requested two aggravated life sentences and an additional prison sentence of 29.5 years. The indictment cited as evidence Ünal’s 17 articles published in Zaman Newspaper on various dates and the opinions he expressed on a variety of TV discussion programs.
The first hearing of the case was held on January 4, 2018. At the first hearing, Ünal made his defense for the 17 articles in question, asked for his release, but was rejected. The court ordered the continuation of his detention and adjourned the trial until February 27, 2018.
At the second hearing held on February 27, 2018, Ünal stated that he did not receive instructions from Gülen and members of the organization, and that his name did not appear at any level of the organization.
The fourth hearing was held on July 18, 2018. At this hearing, stating her opinion as to the accusations, prosecutor Elif İkiz requested that Ünal be sentenced to 15 to 20 years in prison on charges of “attempting to abolish the constitutional order”, and “establishing or managing an armed terrorist organization.” The trial was adjourned until September 5, 2018.
At the fifth hearing, the new prosecutor assigned to the case reiterated the opinion as to the accusations and requested that Ünal be sentenced.
Ünal asked for additional time for defense. The trial was adjourned until November 14, 2018. In the final hearing, Ünal was sentenced to 19 years and 6 months in prison for “being a member of a terrorist organization.” His lawyers filed an appeal against the verdict to the court of appeal.
Ünal was not brought to court in any of the hearings. He attended the hearing through the courtroom video-conferencing system SEGBİS, from prison.
Ali Ünal - Zaman Davası (İddianame)
Ali Ünal - Zaman Davası (Gerekçeli Karar)
Ali Ünal - Zaman Davası (İstinaf Mahkemesi Kararı)
An investigation was initiated against Alican Uludağ, a reporter for the Cumhuriyet newspaper, on charges of “violating the confidentiality of investigation” in his articles titled “Dört Hakim ve Savcı, HSYK’nin İhraç Ettiği İsimler Arasında Yok”, (“Four judges and prosecutors are not among the ones who were sacked by the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors”) and “Evet’çi Savcı FETÖ toplantısında” (The judge who called for a “yes” in the referendum was at the FETÖ meeting”) published in the Cumhuriyet on March 20, 2017.
In the news article, Uludağ cited the statements received from a secret witness named “Çakıl” within the scope of the investigation against FETÖ in Antalya. Accordingly, “Çakıl” had claimed that certain judges and prosecutors had ties to FETÖ. These statements had been sent to the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK); however, the individuals mentioned by “Çakıl” had not figured among the names later expelled from the judiciary by HSYK. Uludağ coded three of the four names, but openly cited Cevdet Kayafoğlu’s name. Prior to the April 16, 2017 constitutional referendum, the then Antalya Deputy Chief Public Prosecutor Kayafoğlu had stated on social media, “Those who vote ‘No’ will be treated just like members of PKK.”
Halil İbrahim Puran, a prosecutor at the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, completed the indictment against Uludağ on May 31, 2017. The four judges and prosecutors cited by Uludağ in his article were presented as complainants in the indictment. The prosecutor requested a prison sentence of one to three years as well as judicial fines for Uludağ on charges of “violating the confidentiality of investigation” by publishing a secret witness statement, as per Article 285 of the Turkish Penal Code.
The Istanbul Second Criminal Court of First Instance presiding over the proceedings ordered that Uludağ’s statement be taken in Ankara.
Uludağ gave his statement at the 34th Criminal Court of First Instance in Ankara, on December 6, 2018.
Following the statement, the first hearing of Uludağ’s trial was held on February 7, 2019 at the Istanbul Second Criminal Court of First Instance.
Journalist and writer Ahmet Altan published an article titled “Yeni Ergenekon” (“New Ergenekon”) on May 8, 2016 on the website P24. In his article, Altan stated, “the government was caught in the act of theft and carried out a ‘judicial coup’.”
Altan used the following statements in his article:
“Erdoğan explicitly stated that he will not abide by the constitution and started to rush towards an illegal dictatorship. (…) And if you cannot run the country but want to become a dictator, your only remaining choice will be guns.”
Upon a complaint by President Erdoğan, an investigation was launched against Ahmet Altan on June 13, 2016. It was claimed that Altan had committed the crime of “insulting the President” as per Turkish Penal Code, Article 299. On November 22, 2016, permission was received from the Ministry of Justice to file a lawsuit for this offense.
In his statement to the prosecutor, Ahmet Altan rejected the charge of “insulting the President.” He stated that it is not forbidden to criticize the government, but that President Tayyip Erdoğan’s lawyer tries to present it as an insult.
Umut Tepe, a prosecutor at the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, Press Crimes Investigation Bureau drafted the indictment about Altan on January 9, 2017. It was claimed that Altan had written, “Tayyip Erdoğan creates social conflict and chaos due to his political greed,” and “Erdoğan builds SS units to commit massacres under the pretext of war in the Southeastern Anatolia Region.” It was also claimed that Altan accused Erdoğan of arms smuggling in his article.
The indictment also offered an assessment of European Convention on Human Rights, Article 10, which concerns freedom of thought and expression. The prosecutor indicated that this article of the convention stipulates “freedom of thought and expression covers not only those ideas that are appreciated and accepted, but also those ideas which are deemed offensive, shocking and disturbing.” The indictment went on to state “Although it is emphasized that (…) this allows for diversity of opinion, and tolerance, which are sine qua non in a democratic society,” and then claimed that Ahmet Altan should be sentenced for his article.
The Istanbul 30th Criminal Court of First Instance accepted the indictment against Ahmet Altan. The first hearing of the trial was held on May 16, 2017. Ahmet Altan was in Silivri Prison pending trial for “FETÖ Media Main Trial”, and so he was connected to the court via the video-conferencing system dubbed Audio and Visual Information System (SEGBİS). At the first hearing, Altan did not request time to prepare his defense, and said he would not use his right to remain silence. Altan criticized the prosecutor’s citation of the aforementioned article of the European Convention on Human Rights on freedom of thought and expression, followed by the phrase “although.” Altan said, “The prosecutor does not have the right to write in this way; by using the expression ‘although’ the prosecutor positions himself above the constitution and commits a crime.” Altan rejected a possible deferment of the announcement of the verdict, and instead requested to be acquitted. The judge Muazzez Cerşit gave Ahmet Altan’s lawyers Veysel Ok and Sinil Nuhoğlu additional time to draft a written defense and present evidence.
The trial was adjourned until the final hearing for the drafting of written defense and presentation of evidence for the case. The judge in charge changed twice during the proceedings; however, Judge Muazzez Cerşit one again presided over the final hearing. Meanwhile, President Tayyip Erdoğan who had filed a complaint against Altan demanded to participate in the proceedings and this demand was accepted.
At the seventh hearing of the trial held on March 19, 2019, the verdict about Altan was announced. Judge Muazzez Cerşit sentenced Altan to 11 months and 20 days in prison, reducing the normal prison term due to his good conduct. The sentence was converted to a judicial fine of 7,000 TL.
Ahmet Altan - Cumhurbaşkanına Hakaret Davası (İddianame)
Ahmet Altan - Cumhurbaşkanına Hakaret Davası (Gerekçeli Karar)
Ahmet Altan - Cumhurbaşkanına Hakaret Davası (Duruşma Tutanağı)
The prosecutor drafted five separate indictments for the editor-in-chief of the weekly newspaper Demokratik Ulus (Democratic Nation), for news articles in five issues published between September 25, 2012 and November 5, 2012.
All the indictments were drafted by prosecutor Muammer Akkaş.
In the indictments, Dayan was charged with “spreading propaganda for a terrorist organization” and “printing and issuing the organization’s publications.”
These separate indictments about Dayan drafted by the same prosecutor on the same grounds were merged at the proceedings during Istanbul 23rd High Criminal Court.
All five of these two-page indictments were completed on January 7, 2013, and presented to the court.
Arafat Dayan, the editor-in-chief of the newspaper figured as defendant in the indictment since he was responsible for the content published, as per the Press Law.
In the first indictment about the newspaper, it was stated that articles published on the issue dated September 25 - October 2, 2012 “spread propaganda for a terrorist organization” and thus an investigation was launched. The indictment indicated that the newspaper published announcements by Kurdistan Workers’ Party (in Kurdish: Partiya Karkerên Kurdistanê/PKK) within the stories titled “HPG, Bayrak tepesine yönelik eylemin sonuçlarını açıkladı” (HPG announced the results of its attack on Bayrak hill) on page 15 and “Kendinize güveniyorsanız hodri meydan!” (Bring it on, if you trust yourselves!) on page 18.
The indictment claimed that there was propaganda for a terrorist organization in the texts and photos of the articles “Yüreğimizin sesidir Botan” (Botan is the sound of our hearts) on page 24 and “Gerilla ve zaman” (Guerilla and time) on page 32. It was argued that an article titled “15. Yıl Mücadelesi” (15th Year in Struggle) on page 8 of the newspaper, featuring a photo of PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan and describing him as “Leader of the Kurdish People, Abdullah Öcalan” was “spreading propaganda for a terrorist organization.”
The third indictment covered the news and articles on the issue dated October 16-21, 2012. It was indicated that in the said issue, the article “Yeter artık DİYORUZ” (We SAY enough) on page 1 and the articles on pages 16., 17. and 18. featured the opinions of PKK leader Murat Karayılan. The prosecutor also claimed that there were elements of “spreading propaganda for a terrorist organization” in the article “Ulusal mücadelede tutarlı olmak lazım” (Coherence is a must in national struggle) on pages 1 and 11, “Okullar kışlalardan daha tehlikelidir” (Schools are more dangerous than barracks) on pages 1 and 14, and the article “Kürdistan’daki TC okulları temerküz kamplarıdır” (Turkish state schools in Kurdistan are concentration camps).
The fourth indictment pressed charges concerning the content in the issue dated October 30 - November 5, 2012, focusing on the article “Bu onurlu direnişe herkes sahip çıksın” (Everyone must embrace this honorable resistance) on page 1 and “Rojin yoldaşımız kararlı ve yürekli bir kadın militandı” (Comrade Rojin was a determined and courageous woman militant) on page 32.
The fifth and final indictment covered the news and articles on the issue dated November 13-19, 2012, filing charges against the articles titled “Savaşta zafer, yaşamda özgürlük” (Victory in war, freedom in life), “Rojava devrimine sahip çıkmak” (Embracing the Rojava revolution), “HPG yaşamını yitiren 8 gerillanın kimliğini açıkladı” (HPG announces the identities of 8 guerillas who lost their lives) on page 5.
After his evaluations on the news and articles, prosecutor Akkaş provided the same information on the last sections of all the indictments: He claimed that although a notification was sent to him, Arafat Dayan, the editor-in-chief of the newspaper had not come to the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office and therefore took part directly in these crimes.
The indictments stated that the freedom of thought was under protection in Turkey, but that the articles in question “praised the terrorist and violent methods of the terror organization”, and thus crossed the boundaries of the freedom of thought. As such, it was requested that Dayan be sentenced on charges of “spreading propaganda for a terrorist organization” and “printing and publishing the organization’s publications.”
Dayan submitted a two-page petition to the court, stating who had written the articles cited in the indictment. In this regard, he stated that he could not be held responsible since the names of the authors were known. Dayan did not attend the hearings.
He attended only the last hearing on November 23, 2013. At the hearing, prosecutor Durmuş Yiğit stated in his opinion on the accusations that the articles “spread propaganda that praised or encouraged the use of methods such as violence, coercion and threats used by the organization”, and requested that Dayan be sentenced to prison.
The panel of judges consisted of Mustafa Bağarkası (chair) and members Canel Rüzgar and Hakan Dede. They ruled that Dayan had indeed committed the crime of “spreading propaganda for a terrorist organization” and had to be imprisoned.
Dayan was sentenced to 2 years in prison for “spreading propaganda for a terrorist organization” as per Anti-Terror Law, Article 7/2. Since the crime was committed multiple times and via the media, the panel of judges increased the prison sentence to five years.
In consideration of the good conduct of Dayan, the panel of judges later dropped the sentence to 4 years and 2 months. Later an appeal was filed at the court of appeal; however, the latter upheld the sentence and rejected the application for appeal.
After the sentence was upheld, Dayan was arrested on July 1, 2016. He is currently serving the prison sentence.
Arafat Dayan Demokratik Ulus Gazetesi Davası (İddianame)
Arafat Dayan Demokratik Ulus Gazetesi Davası (Gerekçeli Karar)
Daily Cumhuriyet’s reporter Seyhan Avşar penned a news article on March 6, 2019, reporting that Istanbul Public Prosecutor Asım Ekren, who had prepared the first indictment against Sözcü newspaper’s employees, had stood trial himself in the past.
According to his article, prosecutor Asım Ekren had been denounced by the suspects of an earlier investigation of his. A lawsuit was filed against Ekren for this reason, and he had been sentenced to prison. The court had then alleviated the sentence, ordering that Ekren be removed from public office for “2 months and 15 days” for professional misconduct. According to the news article, Ekren’s sentence was upheld by the Court of Cassation. The report asked how Ekren could continue to serve as prosecutor despite this sentence.
Necdet Önemli, the manager of Sözcü newspaper’s web site, published this article concerning the prosecutor in the case against his newspaper. The news article made references to daily Cumhuriyet and Seyhan Avşar, but no other aspects were mentioned.
An investigation was launched against Avşar and Önemli on charges of targeting the prosecutor Asım Ekren.
Prosecutor Asım Ekren was mentioned as “injured party” in the indictment against Avşar and Önemli.
The indictment indicated that Ekren had filed a lawsuit against the employees of the Sözcü newspaper, for alleged “membership in a terrorist organization.” For this reason, Avşar and Önemli were charged of “targeting a public official -namely, Ekren- who takes part in the fight against terrorism” (Anti-Terror Law, Article 6/1).
Prison sentences of 1 to 3 years are requested for Avşar and Önemli.
The first hearing of the trial was held. In this hearing, Avşar presented her defence argument. Highlights of her defence were as follows:
“The political power does not want journalists to write the truth. It does this, sometimes by holding jurisdiction over journalists as a bat, sometimes by using the shareholders who have a beneficial relationship with them, the media bosses. They do not the truth to be known, heard or written. Because they know that one day they will be tried in these chambers as well as the competent people of their time were tried. And us, journalist who want to justly fulfil their duties will write about their trials.
As to the base of the case, for almost a tear I have been working at Cumhuriyet Daily as a judicial reporter. In this courthouse where I show up early every morning and run through the halls, I follow sometimes a few hearings. I watch the verdicts of the jurisdiction, unlawfulness within the jurisdiction and the cases the public follow with great interest. I make news about female homicides, child abuses and press-related cases against my colleagues. In a way I try to be the voice of the bedevilled, wronged but not heard citizens..
This indictment with what I am being tried, tries to say to us journalists that you can be sued and tried for the news you make but you can not make news about a prosecutor who has been proven guilty by a court decision. Yet, everywhere in the world a decision against a prosecutor who was accused of such things, and sentenced is newsworthy and requires to be made news. Besides, after the decision reached me, I went ahead and reached out to the wronged parties of the incident and interviewed them too. I do not even need the necessity to state that this news was not made in order to target anyone.
The indictment claims that I made Asım Erken a target of the terrorist organisation. Even before my article Asım Erken was a prosecutor well-known by the press and had news made about him very often. My article was not the first time his name was heard. Moreover in the recent days Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor Yüksel Kocaman made a statement. Kocaman, in his statement pointed out that there have been major developments on fight against FETÖ/PDY and added “no one can say this organisation is wiped out for sure; however we can say that they have no operational power left”. I am being tried for making Asım Erken a target of an organisation that has no organisational power left. If your board thinks alike I do not want the announcement of my sentence to be deferred.
The hearing was left to May 21st 2020, 14:00 in order to take Önemli’s defence statement.
Avşar, Önemli - Hedef Gösterme Davası (İddianame)
On August 11, 2016, Prosecutor Murat İnam of the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, Press Crimes Investigation Bureau, drafted an indictment against Hüseyin Aykol, Co-Editor in Chief of the Özgür Gündem newspaper, and İnan Kızılkaya, the managing editor of the newspaper. The indictment concerned the news story published on the first page of Özgür Gündem dated April 8, 2016 with the title “Şahsı İçin Ülkeyi Yıkıyor” (“He Destroys the Country for Self-Interest”). The following expressions were presented as the ground for accusation: “Upon Erdoğan’s orders for the demolition of buildings in Silopi, a 70-year-old grandmother and a 2-year baby were killed”, “Bahçeli says, either me or the country. Erdoğan, having reached an agreement with the Ergenekon group in return for his presidency, continues to give massacre orders.” The other news stories subject to investigation were “Erdoğan Kelle Avcılığına Soyundu” (“Erdoğan Tries His Hand in Headhunting”) published on page 7 of the newspaper and “2 Yaşındaki Bebeği Katlettiler” (“They Massacred a 2-Year-Old Baby) published on page 8.
In the indictment, the prosecutor stated the following about these stories: “These news articles make statements against the President concerning the incidents of Şırnak and Silopi, which exceed the limits of criticism and of freedom of expression to insult the President. Although it was possible to report the event within the limits of proper criticism, the President was defamed, being portrayed as a headhunter giving massacre orders, making threats and issuing genocidal orders. As such the stories constitute the crime of insulting the President.”
The Istanbul Second Criminal Court of First Instance accepted this indictment mentioning President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as complainant.
On August 23 2016, another indictment, drafted by Istanbul Public Prosecutor’s Office, Press Crimes Investigation Bureau prosecutor Umut Tepe, was sent to the same court with the request to merge the two indictments. In this indictment mentioning Aykol and Kızılkaya as suspects, President Erdoğan figured as complainant. The indictment cited the following phrases to charge the suspects for “insulting the president.” The news article titled “Fitnenin başı bu zirvededir” (“The chief of enmity is at this summit”) on the 1st page of the newspaper dated April 15, 2016, read “…Although he argues that sectarianism is equal to instigating enmity, Erdoğan supports ISIS and provokes animosity against the Kurds, making many feel that the real chief of enmity is right here in this summit.”
Another indictment drafted by prosecutor Murat İnam on September 20, 2016 mentioned Eren Keskin, Özgür Gündem’s editor-in-chief and İnan Kızılkaya, its managing editor, as suspects. President Erdoğan again figured as complainant. The ground for accusation was the news story titled “Erdoğan’ın Dediği Oldu” (“Erdoğan Carried the Day”) published on page 1 of the issue dated March 23, 2016.
Davut Zerman, a prosecutor at the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office Press Crimes Investigation Bureau, drafted another indictment on October 7, 2016 charging Kızılkaya and Aykol of “insulting the President.” The article titled “Vahşete Saray ödülü” (“The Palace Awards Atrocity”) published on page 1 of the issue dated April 25, 2016, was the subject of this indictment. The indictment was dispatched to the same court with a request for merger.
In yet another indictment drafted by Istanbul Public Prosecutor’s Office, Press Crimes Investigation Bureau prosecutor Umut Tepe on October 26, 2016 mentioned the writer İhsan Çaralan and managing editor İnan Kızılkaya as suspects and President Erdoğan as complainant. The ground for charges was the story titled “Aynı Yer Aynı Katil“ (“Same Place, Same Killer“) on the 1st page of the issue dated May 31, 2016.
Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, Press Crimes Investigation Bureau prosecutor Ahmet Dalgalı also drafted an indictment against İnan Kızılkaya on December 21, 2016 for “Insulting the President”, concerning the article titled “Tarihi Uyarı” (“ Historical Warning”) published on August 4, 2016. President Erdoğan figured as complainant in this indictment as well.
These six separate indictments sent to the Istanbul Second Criminal Court of First Instance were merged. The first hearing of the trial took place in January 2017.
The verdict was issued on the 9th hearing held on October 25, 2018.
Aykol and Kızılkaya were sentenced to 1 year 6 months in prison on charges of ”insulting the President.” The judge stated that the journalists committed this crime publicly and increased the sentence to 1 year 9 months in prison.
The judge, claiming that the journalists had committed the same crime multiple times, increased the sentence further to 2 years, 2 months and 8 days. Then, in consideration of the conduct of the journalists during court, the judge reduced their sentences to 1 year, 10 months and 26 days. The judge ordered a deferment of the announcement of the verdict for Kızılkaya, and a probation period of 5 years.
The judge sentenced İhsan Çaralan to one year in prison for the same offense. Claiming that Çaralan had committed this crime publicly, the judge increased the sentence to 1 year and 2 months in prison. Then, in consideration of Çaralan’s behavior in court, the judge reduced the sentence to 11 months and 20 days. The judge ordered a deferment of the announcement of the verdict, and a probation period of 5 years.
As for Eren Keskin, the judge stated that other trials on the same charges were underway at the Istanbul Second Criminal Court of First Instance concerning her, and ruled that this trial be dropped since the other trials covered the date of this accusation as well.
From 2015 onwards, many journalists and politicians were investigated for the activities of the Democratic Society Congress (DTK) in Diyarbakır. Journalist Ayşegül Doğan was among the journalists investigated. The investigation on Doğan was conducted by the Diyarbakır Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office Terror Crimes Investigation Bureau in 2018.
Prosecutor Şahsuvar Yıldız drafted the indictment for the investigation on journalist Ayşegül Doğan concerning the DTK’s activities. The indictment, completed on May 23, 2018, consisted of 86 pages. The remarks about Doğan were on pages 70-76 of the indictment.
The rest of the indictment claimed the DTK constituted the third pillar of Abdullah Öcalan’s “four-pillar paradigm”, acting as a supposed constituent assembly or organization. It was claimed the DTK was established and structured at the behest of Abdullah Öcalan with a view to implementing “the strategy of Democratic Autonomy”, and was a legislative organ operating like a parliament. The indictment also cited Abdullah Öcalan’s meeting minutes with his lawyers concerning the DTK.
In the section about journalist Doğan, the voice recordings of four of her phone calls are presented. Two of these calls concerned news contacts, while the other two were about her invitation to workshops by the DTK. In the phone call dated November 15, 2011, cited in the indictment, Doğan tells G. that news stories concerning the defendant Abdullah Öcalan should be “formulated meticulously.” In another phone call, Doğan tells a member of the DTK that she was disappointed for not receiving an invitation to their workshop on unsolved murders and forced disappearances.
The phone call on May 8, 2012 concerns a proposition to Doğan for acting as moderator in the meeting titled Democratic Autonomy Workshop organized by the DTK.
The fourth call mentioned in the indictment is between Doğan and a consultant to an MP, regarding the individuals who will participate in the Erbil Kurdish Women Conference.
Moreover, Doğan’s activities in the DTK’s Permanent Assembly and various the DTK commissions are also presented as ground for charges.
Based on such evidence, prosecutor Yıldız requested that Doğan be sentenced to prison of up to 22.5 years on charges of “establishing and leading an armed terrorist organization” as per Turkish Penal Code, Article 314, paragraph 1.
The Diyarbakır Ninth High Criminal Court accepted the indictment against Doğan and a lawsuit was filed. The first hearing of the case was held on November 21, 2018. Doğan presented her defense at the hearing, stating that her contacts with the DTK were aimed only at journalism, and that this could be confirmed by the archival records of that period. Arguing that the phone calls cited in the indictment concern solely journalistic activities, Ayşegül Doğan made explanations against every charge pressed against her. The next hearing of the case was held on April 3, 2019. Doğan did not attend this hearing. The panel of judges ordered that Doğan’s voice samples be compared with the voice recordings presented in the case file as evidence, and that the Forensic Medicine Institute prepare a report on this subject.
The third hearing of the case was held on September 11, 2019.
Enver Akman (president of the panel), Abdullah Kılıç (prosecutor), Ramazan Dündar and Mehmet Tur (judges) were present. Doğan did not attend this hearing. His lawyer Ahmet Özmen said that Doğan could not attend the hearing due to a surgery. The president of the panel of judges stated that the audio surveillance voice recordings concerning Doğan had been sent to Istanbul Forensic Medicine Institute for examination, but their report had not yet been received.
The trial was adjourned until December 25, 2019.
In the hearing, the court board ruled that an official request was to be made to the Department of Communications of the Presidency to determine whether Doğan was the member of press, he had a press card, if so, validation dates of the said press card. It was also ruled that the files were to be handed over to the prosecution in order to prepare an opinion and the next hearing was set to March 18th, 2020.
Ayşenur Parıldak, a reporter at the shuttered Zaman newspaper was taken into custody on August 4, 2016. Parıldak was charged for membership of an armed terrorist organization, and the prosecutor requested a prison sentence between 7.5 and 15 years.
In the indictment it was alleged that the application Bylock was installed on Parıldak’s phone. At the second hearing of the trial, the court requested an identity report on the telephone line that figured in the indictment. After media outlets close to the government reported the order for Parıldak’s release in a critical tone, the court’s request was fulfilled.
The report stated that the telephone line in question belonged to Parıldak. The release order was not implemented as the prosecutor’s office opposed it. İsmail Ademoğlu, the judge who had ordered Parıldak’s release, was removed from his post and appointed to the Ankara Regional Court.
During the trial, Parıldak claimed that the telephone line in question did not belong to her; however, this was not accepted by court. She was sentenced to seven years and six months in prison on charges of membership of an armed terrorist organization. The decision was upheld by the Court of Appeal and Court of Cassation. Since August 11, 2016, she has been serving time in Sincan Women’s Closed Prison.
Ayşenur Parıldak - Zaman Davası (İddianame)
Ayşenur Parıldak - Zaman Davası (Gerekçeli Karar)
Ayşenur Parıldak - Zaman Davası (Yargıtay Kararı)
Ayşenur Parıldak - Zaman Davası (İstinaf Mahkemesi Kararı)
Etkin News Agency (ETHA) reporter Ali Sönmez Kayar was taken into custody by police officers on February 1, 2018 as he left the agency. He was taken to İstanbul Vatan Police Station and his lawyers were not informed of the reason for his detention. Under the scope of the same investigation, nine members of the Socialist Party of the Oppressed (ESP) were taken into custody.
After six days in custody, he was referred to Bakırköy Courthouse on February 6, 2018. In the interrogation, he was questioned about protests and activities organized by ESP between 2013 and 2015, and statements against Kayar by three “secret witnesses”.
After the prosecutor’s interrogation, he was referred to court on charges of “membership of a terrorist organization (Marxist Leninist Communist Party - MLKP)”. Bakırköy Third Criminal Court of Peace ordered his arrest on charges of “membership of a terrorist organization.” Six other people aside from Kayar were arrested. He was sent to Silivri No. 2 F-Type Closed Prison.
Public Prosecutor Ufuk Can Gazezoğlu drafted the indictment against Kayar. The 242-page indictment was completed on March 1, 2018. It was accepted by Istanbul 32. High Criminal Court on April 11, 2018. The indictment requested that Kayar be sentenced to up to 15 years in prison, on charges of “membership of a terrorist organization.”
The first hearing of the case was held on July 13, 2018.
At the hearing, Kayar presented his defense and said, “The protests and activities that I follow for journalism purposes are presented as ground for accusation. I do not accept the accusation. I have committed no crime.”
At the first hearing, the court ruled the continuation of Kayar’s detention.
Kayar was released on October 31, 2018 on condition of “judicial control.”
The next hearing will be held on October 13, 2019.