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Can Dündar - Cumhurbaşkanına Hakaret Davası

Can Dündar - Cumhurbaşkanına Hakaret Davası (İddianame)

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.

Defendants

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.

Charges

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’s Counter-Terrorism Branch, squads launched an operation against the Cumhuriyet newspaper on October 31, 2016.

The editor-in-chief, Murat Sabuncu, as well as the writers Aydın Engin, Hikmet Çetinkaya and Hakan Kara, the editor of the newspaper’s books supplement Turhan Günay, readers’ 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 board member Önder Celik turned themselves in to the police.

The newspaper’s writers and executives were arrested on November 5, 2016, on the orders of Judge Mustafa Çakar of the Istanbul 9th Court of Peace. Only the writers Aydın Engin and Hikmet Çetinkaya, along with two other newspaper employees, were released. They were barred from leaving the country.

The newspaper’s Chief Executive Officer, Akın Atalay, was abroad when an arrest warrant was issued against him, and he was arrested on November 12, 2016 upon returning to Turkey.

It later emerged that the prosecutor who was in charge of the investigation, Murat İnam, was himself standing trial in the Court of Cassation. He was facing ten charges, including “membership in FETÖ” and “attempting to overthrow the constitutional order.” After this information emerged, İnam was recused from the Cumhuriyet trial, and 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 based on allegations of “spreading propaganda for the terrorist organizations FETÖ, DHKP/C and PKK.” Şık’s case was later merged with the Cumhuriyet case.

The newspaper’s former editor-in-chief, Can Dündar, and reporter İlhan Tanır were also part of the investigation. However, since Dündar and Tanır were abroad, their cases were separated and their proceedings continued in absentia.

Istanbul Deputy Chief Public Prosecutor Mehmet Akif Ekici and Prosecutor Yasemin Baba completed the indictment charging 18 writers and executives from Cumhuriyet on April 3, 2017. Istanbul’s 27th High Criminal Court accepted the indictment, and the Cumhuriyet trial began on April 19, 2017.

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 accused of communicating with individuals who “allegedly used the smartphone application Bylock” or “were being investigated for FETÖ membership.”

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

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

The first hearing in the Cumhuriyet newspaper trial was held on July 24, 2017, a date celebrated in Turkey as the day of “the abolition of press censorship.” 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 that was harshly critical of the government. Judge Abdurrahman Orkun Dağ ordered that Şık be removed from the courtroom for “breaching the limits of defense and disrupting order in the court.” In response, Akın Atalay and Murat Sabuncu chose not to present their defenses.

Murat Sabuncu and Ahmet Şık were released at the sixth hearing on March 9, 2018. The court ordered the continuation of Akın Atalay’s detention, with Judge Abdurrahman Orkun Dağ, explaining this decision by 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 of Cumhuriyet’s books supplement. The court ruled that Günay’s “right to personal liberty and safety” had been violated.

On April 24, 2018, the second day of the eighth hearing, the court announced its verdict in the case.

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, which proscribed “knowingly and willingly assisting a terrorist organization without being involved in the hierarchical structure of the organization.”

The court handed down prison sentences of seven years, 13 months and 15 days for Akın Atalay, six years and three months for Orhan Erinç, seven years and six months for Murat Sabuncu, two years and six months for Kadri Gürsel, three years and nine months for Güray Tekin Öz, three years and nine months for Musa Kart, three years and nine months for Hakan Kara, seven years and six months for Aydın Engin, six years and three months for Hikmet Çetinkaya, and seven years and six 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” that were directed against them in the indictment. Turhan Günay and two other newspaper employees were acquitted.

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

The Appeal Process

The verdicts were appealed, but the Istanbul Regional Court’s Third Criminal Chamber upheld them on February 18, 2019. The court did not find any violations of procedures and issues with the merits of the law in the verdict of the local court. It found no deficiency in the evidence presented and in the proceedings. As such, the prison sentences were upheld.

Due to this decision, Musa Kart, Hakan Kara and Güray Tekin Öz, who had previously been jailed pending trial for nine 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 five years in prison.

Kart, Kara and Öz, together with two other newspaper executives were in Kandıra Prison while their colleagues appealed to the Court of Cassation.

Court of Cassation Proceedings

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

The 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, the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office asked that Ahmet Şık’s charge be changed from “aiding” a terrorist organization to “praising a terrorist organization, and praising violence” and “spreading propaganda.”

The Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office also said that a possible decision by the Court of Cassation to overturn the verdicts should also encompass Musa Kart, Hakan Kara, Güray Öz Tekin and two newspaper executives, who had gone back to prison after the Court of Appeal’s decision to uphold the first verdict.

In light of this judicial opinion, the 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, and Hikmet Çetinkaya, as well as Ahmet Şık.

The chamber also lifted the 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 barred from traveling abroad.

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

The Chamber overturned the prison sentence of seven years and six months that was handed down to Ahmet Şık by the Court of First Instance, but requested that he stand trial for “legitimizing the actions of a terrorist organization” as per Article 6 of the Counter-Terrorism Law, and for “degrading state institutions” as per Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code.

The proceedings for all defendants were scheduled to begin again at İstanbul’s 27th High Criminal Court.

Constitutional Court Proceedings

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

It 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 the press” had been violated.

European Court of Human Rights Proceedings

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

Retrial Process

Trials of all the suspects restarted on November 21, 2019 at Istanbul’s 27th Assize Court. The panel of judges was made up of Presiding Judge Ersin Öztürk as well as the Judge Fatih Akgün and Judge Kürşad Bektaş. The prosecutor in the case was Korkmaz Gülsün.

In the hearing, Kadri Gürsel, Ahmet Şık, Bülent Utku, Mustafa Kemal Güngör, Akın Atalay, Aydın Engin, Güray Tekin Öz, Hakan Kara (Karasinir), Musa Kart, Hikmet Çetinkaya, Murat Sabuncu, Orhan Erinç, and Önder Çelik were present.

The hearing began with the identification of the suspects. Then the Presiding Judge read the summary of the Court of Cassation’s decision to overturn the verdicts. After that, the prosecutor asked that the judges uphold the Court of Cassation’s decision to overturn the verdicts.

The presiding judge then stated that he would be giving the stand to the defendants to respond to the request to overturn the verdicts, and said they would be allowed to make final statements later on.

Following the responses by the defendants, the final statements were in order. There was laughter around the courtroom after the Presiding Judge joked, “It’s difficult to hold a trial in Turkey, there are so many procedures.”

The attorneys argued that the final statements should be made once the panel of judges had reached a verdict. Attorney Bahri Belen said, “First the court should reach a verdict, and if the decision to overturn is obeyed, then the final statements should be asked [of the defendants].”

After the objection of the attorneys, the panel of judges decided to take a five-minute break to deliberate on the objection. After the trial resumed, the Presiding Judge ordered that the defendants make their final statements before the verdict was issued, and overruled the attorneys’ objections.

Following the final statements, the panel of judges ordered an hour break before announcing the decision.

The panel ruled against the the Court of Cassation’s decision to overturn the verdicts. Because of its decision to persist in challenging the Court of Cassation’s order, all the previous sentences of the suspects were read out once again. The file will be sent to the General Assembly of Criminal Chambers of the Court of Cassation.

With this decision, Akın Atalay was sentenced to seven years, three months and 15 days of imprisonment. Orhan Erinç was sentenced to six years and three months, Murat Sabuncu to seven years and six months, Güray Tekin Öz to three years and nine months, Musa Kart to three years and nine months, Hakan Kara to three years and nine months, Aydın Engin to seven years and six months, Hikmet Çetinkaya to six years and three months, and Ahmet Şık to seven years and six months of imprisonment.

The panel ruled for Kadri Gürsel’s acquittal.

The Infographics Summary of Cumhuriyet Newspaper Trial

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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)