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Can Dündar - Solidarity with Özgür Gündem Trial

The Istanbul 8th Criminal Court of Peace “temporarily” shut down the newspaper Özgür Gündem on August 16, 2016. Previously, in order to support the newspaper in the face of mounting pressure, the “Editor-in-chief on Watch” campaign had been launched on May 3, 2016, whereby prominent individuals took turns as the editor-in-chief of the newspaper. The campaign had become necessary after lawsuits were filed against the newspaper’s co-editors-in-chief Eren Keskin and Hüseyin Aykol, and its managing editor İnan Kızılkaya.

The campaign ended on August 7, 2016. Özgür Gündem was permanently shut down by Decree Law no. 675 on October 29, 2016.

Investigations were launched against 49 of the 56 editors-in-chief on watch who joined the campaign. Eleven of these investigations ended in a verdict of
non-prosecution. Thirty-seven lawsuits were filed. The lawsuit against Deniz Türkali was dropped due to statute of limitations.

The lawsuits took place in Istanbul’s 13th, 14th, and 22th High Criminal Courts.


Charges were pressed against these 37 individuals: A. Kumru Başer, Ahmet Nesin, Ayşe Batumlu, Ayşe Düzkan, Beyza Üstün, Can Dündar, Celal Başlangıç, Celalettin Can, Cengiz Baysoy, Çilem Küçükkkeleş, Derya Okatan, Dicle Anter, Erol Önderoğlu, Ertuğrul Mavioğlu, Faruk Balıkçı, Faruk Eren, Fehim Işık, Hüseyin Tahmaz, Hakkı Boltan, Hasan Cemal, Hasan Hayri Şanlı, İbrahim Bodur, İhsan Çaralan, Julide Kural, Murat Çelikkan, Murat Uyurkulak, Nadire Mater, Necmiye Alpay, Nevin Erdemir, Öncü Akgül, Ragıp Duran, Said Sefa, Şanar Yurdatapan, Şebnem Korur Fincancı, Tuğrul Eryılmaz, Veysi Altay, Yıldırım Türker.

Verdicts of non-prosecution

Verdicts of non-prosecution were issued for the following 11 names who joined the campaign: İhsan Eliaçık, Sebahat Tuncel, Ahmet Abakay, Eşber Yağmurdereli, Hasip Kaplan, Işın Eliçin, Kemal Can, Mustafa Sönmez, Melda Onur, Uğur Karadaş, Nurcan Baysal.

27 editors-in-chief on watch were sentenced

The court handed down prison sentences totaling 352 months, 15 days in prison and 68,000 TL in fines to the following 27 individuals who joined the campaign: Şanar Yurdatapan, İbrahim Bodur, Cengiz Baysoy, İmam Canpolat, Çilem Küçükkeleş, Nadire Mater, Yıldırım Türker, Hasan Cemal, Faruk Balıkçı, Dicle Anter, Derya Okatan, Kumru Başer, Ayşe Batumlu, Jülide Kural, İlham Bakır, Murat Uyurkulak, Murat Çelikkan, Beyza Üstün, Nevin Erdemir, Hakkı Boltan, Hasan Hayri Şanlı ve Tuğrul Eryılmaz, Hüseyin Aykol, Ayşe Düzkan, Ragıp Duran, Mehmet Ali Çelebi and Hüseyin Bektaş.

Çelikkan and Düzkan served time

Of the editors-in-chief on watch whose sentences were not deferred, Murat Çelikkan was placed in Kırklareli Prison on August 14, 2017, then transferred to an open prison on October 14, 2017, and finally released on October 21, 2017.

Another editor-in-chief on watch whose sentence was not deferred was Ayşe Düzkan, who was put to Bakırköy Women’s Prison on January 29, after the Court of
Appeal upheld her sentence, to serve 1 year, 6 months in prison. She was later transferred to the Eskişehir Open Prison and finally released on June 12, 2019.

First three editors-in-chief arrested were later acquitted.

The first editors-in-chief on watch to be arrested in this investigation were Erol Önderoğlu, Ahmet Nesin and Şebnem Korur Fincancı. These three figures were arrested on June 20, 2016, and released 10 days later. All of them were acquitted of all charges at the 11th hearing held on July 17, 2019.

10 editors-in-chief on watch still stand trial

Of the editors-in-chief on watch who participated in the campaign, Faruk Eren, the president of the press employees union DİSK Basın-İş; İhsan Çaralan and Fehim Işık, contributors to Evrensel newspaper; journalists Ertuğrul Mavioğlu, Celal Başlangıç, Celalettin Can and Öncü Akgül stand trial at the Istanbul 14th High Criminal Court. Upon the request of the lawyers, the panel of judges ordered the merger of the cases for these six individuals who served as editors-in-chief and cases for other individuals whose articles and letters were published in the newspaper during those days. These individuals include the newspaper’s ex Co-Editor-in-Chief and contributor Hüseyin Aykol, and columnist Ömer Ağın.

The proceedings continue for the editors-in-chief on watch Can Dündar, Said Sefa and Veysi Altay, whose trials are held separately.

Kızılkaya figures as defendant in all 37 trials

In all of the 37 lawsuits, managing editor İnan Kızılkaya stood trial as defendant. A large number of these lawsuits against Kızılkaya were merged with the Özgür Gündem Main Trial.


The 37 editors-in-chief on watch stand/stood trial on charges of “Spreading propaganda for a terrorist organization” as per Article 7/2 of the Anti-Terror Law (TMK) no. 3713; “Publishing and disseminating the announcements and declarations of terrorist organizations” as per Article 6 of the Anti-Terror Law; “Publicly inciting to commit crime” as per Article 215/1 of Turkish Penal Code; and “Praising the crime and criminal” as per Article 214/1 of the Turkish Penal Code.
The prosecutor requested prison sentences of 1 to 5 years as per Anti-Terror Law, Article 7/2; 1 to 3 years as per Anti-Terror Law, Article 6/2; up to 2 years as per Turkish Penal Code, Article 215/1; from 6 months to 5 years as per Turkish Penal Code, Article 214/1; totaling prison sentences of 2.5 to 15 years for each of the 37 editors-in-chief on watch.

Can Dündar’s trial

The last hearing of the case against Can Dündar was held on July 18, 2019. The trial was postponed since the arrest warrant against Dündar could not be implemented and the trial continued in his absence. The trial was adjourned until November 28, 2019.

Can Dündar - Özgür Gündem Dayanışma Davası (İddianame)

Canan Coşkun - Insulting the President of the Republic Trial

Upon a criminal complaint filed by President Erdoğan, a lawsuit was brought against Cumhuriyet reporter Canan Coşkun on November 25, 2015, for the news story titled “Erdoğan Buyurdu, Gazetecilik Tutuklandı” (At Erdoğan’s Behest, Journalism Under Arrest) on charges of “Insulting the President.”

In the indictment that he completed on November 13, 2017, Prosecutor Asım Ekrem stated that “the news story includes Can Dündar’s statements that it is Erdoğan who should be tried, and the news story argues that the President handles the trial like a personal matter, claiming that he acts with personal enmity and hatred and issues unlawful instructions for the suspect’s arrest.”

The following explanation was given as to why the lawsuit was filed two years after the publication of the news story, against normal legal procedures: “Although it has been observed that the four-month period stipulated for in Article 26 of the Press Law has expired for the printed version of the story, the same story is also published on the internet and can be accessed from the links in the file, so that the case is not subject to statute of limitations.”

At the first hearing, Coşkun’s lawyer stated that the Press Law should be applied unconditionally, and that the publication of the news whether on the newspaper or on the website is the responsibility of the managing editor, not the journalist. The lawyer requested that the lawsuit be dropped and Coşkun immediately acquitted.

The court reached a verdict at the second hearing on June 20, 2019. The court acquitted Coşkun since there was a breach of the aforementioned article of Press Law.

Canan Coşkun - Cumhurbaşkanına Hakaret Davası (İddianame)

Canan Coşkun - Trial for Targeting

Canan Coşkun drafted a news report on the interrogation by prosecutors of the lawyers detained on September 20, 2017.

In the report, she made references to the testimony of Berk Ercan, a witness under arrest. She was charged with “Targeting Persons Involved in the Fight Against Terrorism ” (as per Turkish Penal Code 53/1, 58/9).

The Istanbul 26th High Criminal Court sentenced Canan Coşkun to 2 years, 3 months in prison on July 19, 2018.

Canan Coşkun - Hedef Gösterme Davası (İddianame)

Cansu Pişkin - Afrin News Trial

Cansu Pişkin penned a news story about the change of prosecutor in the investigation against Boğaziçi University students who were detained, and it was published in Evrensel newspaper dated April 5, 2018, and on the newspaper’s website. The story read:

“… Prosecutor Onur Rıfat Atılgan, who was in charge of the investigation, was replaced by Ergun Güçlü on the day the students were brought to court. Ergun Güçlü is a prosecutor at Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, Bureau for Investigation of Terror and Organized Crime, and had described HDP, the third largest party in the Parliament, as a ‘party engaged in politics under instructions from the terrorist organization’ in a previous indictment …”

An indictment was completed by Prosecutor Yavuz Şahin on November 14, 2018, and Cansu Pişkin stood trial for “Making comments on public prosecutors and citing their identity in an explicit manner.”

At the hearing on May 7, 2019, Pişkin was sentenced to 10 months in prison as per Article 6 / 1 of the Anti-Terror Law no. 3713. The court deferred the announcement of the verdict.

The court reduced the 1-year prison sentence by 1/6, “in consideration of its possible effects on the defendant’s future.”

Cansu Pişkin - Afrin Haberi Davası (İddianame)

Ceren Sözeri - Albayrak Trial for Compensation

A lawsuit has been filed against Ceren Sözeri, a journalist at the Evrensel newspaper, for her article titled, “AKP’ye kim oy kaybettirdi” (“Who made AKP lose votes”) published on April 7, 2019. Serhat Albayrak, vice chairman of the pro-government Turkuvaz Media Group claimed a total of 200,000 TL in compensation for damages, from Sözeri and the company publishing the newspaper. Serhat Albayrak is the brother of Minister of Treasury and Finance Berat Albayrak, the son-in-law of President Tayyip Erdoğan. Turkuvaz Media Group counts among its subsidiaries the pro-government newspapers and TV channels Sabah, Takvim, ATV and A Haber.

In her article, Sözeri discussed how in the local elections held on March 31, 2019, the Anadolu News Agency’s broadcast was interrupted for 14 hours as the votes were being counted. She also questioned how the Anadolu News Agency could collect data from ballot boxes all over Turkey.

The petition for the complaint presented the following phrase in Sözeri’s article as ground for accusation:

“The pro-government media does not refrain from disseminating fabricated news and hate speech, especially Sabah-ATV, known to be close to the Pelican group (…)”
“Sabah-ATV group (…) engaged in a reckless production of lies.”

It was claimed that Sözeri targeted Albayrak with these expressions, “incriminating Albayrak with dark and baseless insinuations” and “blemishing his prestige.”

It was alleged that Sözeri’s article inflicted damaged on Albayrak’s rights and commercial prestige.

Albayrak’s petition was accepted by the Istanbul Second Commercial Court of First Instance. The first hearing will be held on March 4, 2020.

Ceren Sözeri - Albayrak Tazminat Davası (Şikayet Dilekçesi)

Cumhuriyet Newspaper Trial

On the orders of the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office Anti-Terrorism Branch squads launched an operation against the Cumhuriyet newspaper on October 31, 2016.

The editor-in-chief Murat Sabuncu as well as writers Aydın Engin, Hikmet Çetinkaya and Hakan Kara, Cumhuriyet Book Supplement’s editor-in-chief Turhan Günay, reader representative Güray Tekin Öz, lawyer Bülent Utku and two other employees were taken into custody from their homes.

After learning about the arrest warrants against them, cartoonist Musa Kart, columnist Kadri Gürsel, lawyer Mustafa Kemal Güngor and executive Önder Celik went to the police by their own will.

Newspaper writers and executives were arrested on November 5, 2016, on the orders of Judge Mustafa Çakar of Istanbul Ninth Criminal Court of Peace. Only the writers Aydın Engin and Hikmet Çetinkaya, along with two other newspaper employees were released with a ban on leaving the country.
The newspaper’s Chief Executive Officer Akın Atalay was abroad when the arrest warrant was issued against him, and got arrested on November 12, 2016 upon returning to Turkey.

It was later found out that the prosecutor Murat İnam in charge of the investigation was indeed standing trial for 10 charges, including “membership of FETÖ” and “attempting to overthrow the constitutional order.” İnam’s file was being examined by the Court of Cassation. After this information that could change the course of proceedings surfaced, İnam was taken from the Cumhuriyet trial, to be replaced by Istanbul Deputy Chief Public Prosecutor Mehmet Akif Ekici and prosecutor Yasemin Baba.

Cumhuriyet reporter Ahmet Şık was taken into custody on December 29, 2016. The charges against him were based on his news articles and tweets. On December 30, 2016, he was arrested on allegations of “spreading propaganda for the terrorist organizations FETÖ, DHKP/C and PKK.” Şık’s case was later merged with the Cumhuriyet case.

Former Editor-in-Chief of the newspaper, Can Dündar and reporter İlhan Tanır were also part of the investigation. However, since Dündar and Tanır were abroad, their cases were separated from the main case. Their proceedings continued in their absence.

Istanbul Deputy Chief Public Prosecutor Mehmet Akif Ekici and prosecutor Yasemin Baba completed on April 3, 2017 the indictment against 18 writers and executives of the daily Cumhuriyet. Istanbul 27th High Criminal Court accepted the indictment, and the Cumhuriyet trial began on April 19, 2017.
In the indictment, Cumhuriyet’s writers and executives were charged with “aiding and abetting armed terrorist organizations without being a member” and “breaching professional trust.”

The newspaper’s writers and executives were also charged with communicating with individuals who “allegedly used the smartphone application Bylock” or “were being investigated for FETÖ membership.”

Orhan Erinç, the publisher of Cumhuriyet, cartoonist Musa Kart and writer Hakan Kara’s phone calls to a holiday company were presented as evidence of criminal ties. CEO Akın Atalay’s connection to his colleague, lawyer Faik Işık was also depicted as criminal. In the past, Işık had also served as lawyer of President Tayyip Erdoğan. The reader representative, Güray Tekin Öz, was among the journalists charged with “communicating with an individual investigated for FETÖ membership.” However, that individual was simply the owner of a pastry shop which Güray Tekin Öz shopped from. Articles, headlines and tweets were cited as evidence for the charges.

Some Cumhuriyet employees testified against the writers and executives standing trial.

The Cumhuriyet newspaper trial began on July 24, 2017, a date celebrated in Turkey as the day of “the abolition of censorship in the press.” The first hearing lasted five days. At the end of the hearing, Güray Tekin Öz, Musa Kart, Hakan Kara, Turhan Günay, Mustafa Kemal Güngör, Bulent Utku and Önder Çelik were released.
At the third hearing on September 25, 2017, Kadri Gürsel was released.

At the hearing on December 25, 2017, journalist Ahmet Şık presented a defense harshly critical of the government. Judge Abdurrahman Orkun Dağ ordered that Şık be removed from the courtroom for allegedly “breaching the limits of defense and disrupting court order.” In response, Akın Atalay and Murat Sabuncu chose not to present their defenses.

Murat Sabuncu and Ahmet Şık were released at the sixth hearing dated March 9, 2018. The court ordered the continuation of Akın Atalay’s detention. Judge Abdurrahman Orkun Dağ, explained this decision saying, “The captain is the last to abandon ship; so Mr. Atalay will be staying with us.”

On January 11, 2018, the Constitutional Court announced its verdict on the individual application of Turhan Günay, the editor-in-chief of Cumhuriyet’s Book Supplement. The court ruled that Günay’s “right to personal liberty and safety” had been violated.

The Cumhuriyet trial continued with the 8th hearing: On the second day of the eighth hearing which started on April 24, 2018, the court announced its verdict on the writers, cartoonist, reporters and executives.

Although in the indictment no defendant was accused of “establishing and leading an armed organization,” all defendants were sentenced on this charge.
All defendants were sentenced to prison pursuant to Article 220, paragraph 7 of the Turkish Penal Code, that is, “knowingly and willingly assisting a terrorist organization without being involved in the hierarchical structure of the organization.”

The court handed down prison sentences of 7 years 13 months 15 days for Akın Atalay, 6 years 3 months for Orhan Erinç, 7 years 6 months for Murat Sabuncu, 2 years 6 months for Kadri Gürsel, 3 years 9 months for Güray Tekin Öz, 3 years 9 months for Musa Kart, 3 years 9 months for Hakan Kara, 7 years 6 months for Aydın Engin, 6 years 3 months for Hikmet Çetinkaya, 7 years 6 months for Ahmet Şık.

The court also ordered the release of Akın Atalay upon the announcement of the verdict.

All defendants were absolved from allegations of “breach of professional trust” directed against them in the indictment. Turhan Günay and two other newspaper employees were acquitted.

Can Dündar’s and İlhan Tanır’s cases were separated as they were abroad.

The Appeal Process

Appeals were filed against the verdict at a court of appeal. However, the Istanbul Regional Court Third Criminal Chamber upheld the decisions on February 18, 2019. The court of appeal did not find any violation of procedures and merits of the law in the verdict of the local court. It found no deficiency in the evidence presented and in the procedures. As such, the court of appeal upheld the prison sentences.

Upon this decision, Musa Kart, Hakan Kara and Güray Tekin Öz, who had previously been jailed pending trial for 9 months, went back to prison, along with two newspaper executives. According to the Code of Criminal Procedure, they could not file an appeal at the Court of Cassation since they were sentenced to less than 5 years in prison.

The proceedings in the Court of Cassation were completed while Kart, Kara and Öz, together with two other newspaper executives were in Kandıra Prison.

Court of Cassation Proceedings

Those who were handed down prison sentences of more than five years by the local court filed an appeal at the Court of Cassation. Pending the Court of Cassation 16th Criminal Chamber’s examination of the case, Court of Cassation Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office presented a judicial opinion concerning the verdict.

The Court of Cassation Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office requested that the prison sentences for Orhan Erinç, Akın Atalay, Murat Sabuncu, Hikmet Çetinkaya, Aydın Engin and Ahmet Şık be overturned, and that all journalists except for Ahmet Şık be acquitted.

In the judicial opinion, it was also requested that Ahmet Şık be sentenced on charges of not “aiding the organization,” but “praising a terrorist organization, and violence” and “spreading propaganda.”

Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office further demanded that a possible decision by Court of Cassation to overturn the verdict should also include Musa Kart, Hakan Kara, Güray Öz Tekin and two newspaper executives, who had went back to prison after the court of appeal’s decision to uphold the first verdict.

Following this judicial opinion, Court of Cassation’s 16th Criminal Chamber examined the appeal.

The 16th Criminal Chamber completed its examination on September 12, 2019, and reached a verdict in line with the judicial opinion of the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, overturning the prison sentences for Akın Atalay, Orhan Erinç, Murat Sabuncu, Aydın Engin, Hikmet Çetinkaya and Ahmet Şık.

The chamber also ruled the reversal of prison sentences for Güray Tekin Öz, Musa Kart and Hakan Kara, which had been upheld by the court of appeal. Öz, Kart and Kara were released but banned from going abroad.

The Court of Cassation upheld the prison sentence of 3 years 1 month and 15 days for the newspaper’s accountant Emre İper.

The Chamber overturned the prison sentence of 7 years 6 months handed down to Ahmet Şık by the court of first instance; however, requested that he stand trial for “legitimizing the actions of a terrorist organization” as per Anti-Terror Law, Article 6 and “degrading state institutions” as per Turkish Penal Code, Article 301.
The proceedings for all defendants will start again at İstanbul 27th High Criminal Court.

Constitutional Court Proceedings

While they were in prison, the 10 Cumhuriyet journalists and executives standing trial filed an individual appeal for violation of rights to Constitutional Court on December 6, 2016. Constitutional Court reached a verdict on these applications on May 2, 2019.

The Constitutional Court rejected the appeals for violation of rights by Akın Atalay, Murat Sabuncu, Güray Tekin Öz, Musa Kart, Hakan Kara, Ahmet Şık and three newspaper executives.

In its verdict on May 2, 2019, the Constitutional Court ruled that only Kadri Gürsel’s “right to personal liberty and safety” and “freedom of expression and press” had been violated.

European Court of Human Rights Proceedings

On November 9, 2016, the 10 writers and executives of the newspaper filed an application with the European Court of Human Rights for rights violations. The European Court of Human Rights continues to examine their file.

Cumhuriyet Gazetesi Davası (İddianame)

Cumhuriyet Gazetesi Davası (Gerekçeli Karar)

Cumhuriyet Gazetesi Davası (Anayasa Mahkemesi Kararı)

Cumhuriyet Gazetesi Davası (Anayasa Mahkemesi Kararı)

Cumhuriyet Gazetesi Davası (Anayasa Mahkemesi Kararı)

Cumhuriyet Gazetesi Davası (Anayasa Mahkemesi Kararı)

Cumhuriyet Gazetesi Davası (Anayasa Mahkemesi Kararı)

Cumhuriyet Gazetesi Davası (Anayasa Mahkemesi Kararı)

Cumhuriyet Gazetesi Davası (Anayasa Mahkemesi Kararı)

Cumhuriyet Gazetesi Davası (Anayasa Mahkemesi Kararı)

Cumhuriyet Gazetesi Davası (Yargıtay Cumhuriyet Başsavcılığı Tebliğnamesi)

Cumhuriyet Gazetesi Davası (Yargıtay Kararı)

Cumhuriyet Gazetesi Davası (İstinaf Mahkemesi Kararı)