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Deniz Yücel - Propaganda of an Organization Trial

The Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office launched an investigation against Deniz Yücel, the Turkey representative of the German newspaper Die Welt, on charges of “spreading PKK / KCK and FETÖ propaganda” and “inciting hatred and animosity among the people.” On February 14, 2017, Yücel was summoned to the Istanbul Police Department to give a statement and was taken into custody within the scope of the investigation numbered 2018/2873. On February 27, 2017, he was arrested on the orders of the Istanbul Ninth Criminal Court of Peace.

Hasan Yılmaz, Deputy Chief Public Prosecutor of Istanbul, drafted the indictment numbered 2018/7041 with case number 2018/1395 against Deniz Yücel on February 13, 2018. The prosecutor’s office translated Yücel’s eight-page German news article in Die Welt, and claimed that expressions such as “a senior PKK commander” and “Öcalan, the commander-in-chief of PKK” were tantamount to “praising a terrorist organization and its ideology.” The prosecutor’s office also described an interview by Yücel with PKK leader Cemil Bayık as a criminal offense in this scope, as well as his news article on Hacer Aslan, who was burnt to death in a basement during police operations in Cizre in 2016. Furthermore, Deniz Yücel was accused of spreading propaganda for the FETÖ / PDY armed terrorist organization because of his coverage of the coup attempt on July 15, 2016. Moreover, journalist Yücel was charged with “inciting hatred and animosity among the people” for the humorous anecdote recounted by an interviewee, and for the expression “Armenian genocide” in a news article of his. The prosecutor cited further evidence for the charges in the indictment, such as a book by Fethullah Gülen found in Deniz Yücel’s apartment, and his HTS (Historical Traffic Search) records.

According to these records, between 2014 and 2017, journalist Yücel had met with 59 persons registered in the police database for alleged affiliation with PKK / KCK, and this was cited as ground for the charges against him. The indictment was accepted by the Istanbul 32nd High Criminal Court and a lawsuit was filed against Deniz Yücel. After the indictment was accepted, journalist Deniz Yücel was released by court order on February 16, 2018, following approximately one year in prison.

The first hearing of the case was held on June 28, 2018. Since Deniz Yücel had returned to Germany, he did not attend the hearing. During the first hearing followed by observers from the German Consulate General in Istanbul and the German media, Yücel’s lawyer Veysel Ok argued that the indictment was actually drafted by law enforcement officers, and was based on illegally obtained documents and records. Lawyer Ok stated that an individual who was not member of a terrorist organization was being presented as such, and demanded that the police report be removed from the case file since it was not legal. He also requested that his client be acquitted immediately. The court rejected the lawyer’s demands for the removal of the police report from the file, and immediate acquittal, and ordered that Deniz Yücel’s statement be taken via letter of request (that the statement be taken where the defendant is and then sent to the court).

The trial was adjourned until October 17, 2019.

Deniz Yücel - Örgüt Propagandası Davası (İddianame)

Diren Keser - Propaganda Trial

Journalist Diren Keser was detained in February 2017 after police raided his home in Mersin. Keser was detained at the Anti-Terror Branch of the Mersin Police Department for 14 days.

The reason for his custody could not be learned at first because a confidentiality order was issued for his case. However, during the interrogation at the end of the 14th day, he was asked about his social media posts.

Keser was released on February 16, 2017 on condition of “judicial control.”

The indictment in the scope of the investigation concerning his social media posts was drafted by Mustafa Erdal, one of the prosecutors at Mersin Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, Terror and Organized Crime Investigation Bureau.

In the eight-page indictment completed on December 2, 2017, only one page was dedicated to Keser’s identity and investigation details, while six pages included information on the history, objectives and activities of Kurdistan Workers’ Party (Partiya Karkerên Kurdistanê/PKK).

In the indictment, the accusations against Keser took only half a page. Here, the prosecutor listed the Facebook posts forming the ground for accusation; however, he did not provide their content. The five posts in question were mentioned in the indictment as follows:

• On 26/11/2014, Keser shared a photo of small children wearing rags belonging to the separatist terror group on a social media sharing platform open to third parties,
• On 06/11/2014, he shared a video of an interview with members of the separatist terror group, which featured the rags symbolizing the separatist terror group,
• On 21/10/2014, he shared images of the armed separatist group,
• On 09/07/2015, he shared separate images of 10 members of the separatist terror group, indicating that they had lost their lives,
• On 20/10/2014, he shared images of armed members of the separatist group”

After providing these social media posts on which the accusation was based, prosecutor Erdal stated, “He spread propaganda for the members of the terrorist organization by frequently sharing the images of armed group members who extensively conducted and continue to conduct armed terrorist activities, instead of expressing an opinion, discussing a topic or sharing texts and images about a social event in his posts…”

Accordingly prosecutor Erdal requested that journalist Diren Keser be sentenced for “spreading propaganda for a terrorist organization” as per Anti-Terror Law, Article 7/2. Erdal requested that Keser be sentenced to imprisonment of 1 to 5 years. On the grounds that the crime was committed in a continuous manner, he further demanded that the sentence be increased by 1/3 to imprisonment from 1 year 3 months to 8 years 9 months.

The indictment was accepted by Mersin 9th High Criminal Court and a lawsuit was filed against journalist Keser. The first hearing of the case took place on December 26, 2017. Keser was in attendance at the hearing. Yavuz Koç (chair), Gökhan Kızıl and Reşit Çağlar (judges) and İhsan Doğan (prosecutor) were present.

Presenting his defense at the hearing, Keser indicated that he shared these posts as a journalist: “I wanted to share articles by various columnists on Facebook; however, when posted on the page, the images of the armed individuals you mention have become more prominent. It was not possible for me to change this. That is how I shared the posts dated October 21 and 22 in question. My posts include different photos, for instance in the video where children sing a song, it is seen that these children wear red, yellow and green colors and traditional headscarves. These are local garments, and various politicians also don clothes in these colors. In the video showing Kader Ortakkaya’s speech, even she is not aware of the individual and flag that appear behind her: She is simply delivering a speech against war and ISIS; and I did not act with criminal intent in sharing this video.”

At the hearing, in his opinion as to the accusations, the prosecutor requested that Keser be sentenced for these charges.

The panel of judges handed down a prison sentence of 1 year 6 months to Keser for “spreading propaganda for a terrorist organization.” In addition, on grounds that the crime was committed via the press, the sentence was increased by half to 1 year and 15 months. Moreover, considering that he had committed the same crime multiple times in continuous fashion, the sentence was further aggravated by 1/3 to 1 year, 21 months, 22 days in prison. The court then decided to reduce the sentence to 1 year, 16 months and 3 days considering Keser’s good conduct during the hearing.

Keser’s lawyer, Ali Kozan, filed an appealed at the court of appeal. Adana Regional Court 2nd Criminal Chamber reached a verdict on February 19, 2018. The court upheld the sentence about Keser, who was then taken into custody and was arrested on July 2, 2019. He was placed in Mersin Tarsus T-Type Closed Prison. He is currently serving time in prison.

Diren Keser - Propaganda Davası (İddianame)

Diren Keser - Propaganda Davası (Gerekçeli Karar)

Diren Keser - Propaganda Davası (İstinaf Mahkemesi Kararı)

Dirik, Acarer - Trial for Sarin Gas News

Istanbul Members of Parliament from the People’s Republican Party (CHP), Eren Erdem and Ali Şeker, held a press conference on October 21, 2015, at CHP’s Istanbul Headquarters. During the press conference, the MPs claimed that an investigation over alleged shipment of sarin gas from Turkey to ISIS had been dropped.

The Cumhuriyet newspaper’s Izmir correspondent Hakan Dirik penned a news story about the allegations expressed at the press conference. In his article, Dirik also provided further information he obtained from the CHP MP Eren Erdem.

The news story by Dirik, and a separate article by Acarer claimed that the ISIS investigation in Adana was closed on the orders of the-then Minister of Justice, Bekir Bozdağ. According to the allegations in the said news story and article, Bozdağ had phoned the prosecutor conducting the investigation and said, “Let us know before you launch an operation against organizations with Islamic links”.

Following the publication of the news story and article, Minister Bozdağ filed a criminal complaint against Dirik and Acarer on charges of “slander”. Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office ruled for lack of jurisdiction and referred the case to Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office.

Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office established that at the press conference covered by the news story and article, the MPs had not mentioned Bekir Bozdağ.

Dirik and Acarer were sued on charges of “slander via the media”.

The trial began on November 9, 2017. The court requested an expert report on the press conference by the MPs. After examining the report, the court will decide whether or not to hear Eren Erdem, who is currently in detention for a separate case.

The trial will continue on October 18, 2019.

Dirik, Acarer - Sarin Gazı Haberi Davası (İddianame)

Düzkan, Duran, Aykol, Çelebi - Trial for Solidarity with Özgür Gündem

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 became the editor-in-chief of the newspaper in turn. 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 İstanbul’s 13th, 14th, and 22nd High Criminal Courts.

The 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 thousand 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.

The 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 İstanbul 14. 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.

Düzkan, Duran, Aykol, Çelebi - Solidarity Trial

In a separate indictment, Ayşe Düzkan and Ragıp Duran were charged with “spreading propaganda for a terrorist organization”, “publicly inciting to crime”, “praising crime and criminals”. At the first hearing of their case, the case of Düzkan and Duran was merged with the case of journalists Mehmet Ali Çelebi, Hüseyin Aykol and Hüseyin Bektaş.

At the end of the proceedings, the court handed down sentences of 3 years 9 months in prison to Hüseyin Aykol, and 1 year 6 months in prison to Ayşe Düzkan, Ragıp Duran and Mehmet Ali Çelebi. The court of appeal upheld these verdicts.

Journalist Ayşe Düzkan was released after completing her prison sentence of 4.5 months of prison.

Düzkan, Duran, Aykol, Çelebi - Özgür Gündem Dayanışma Davası (İddianame)

Düzkan, Duran, Aykol, Çelebi - Özgür Gündem Dayanışma Davası (İddianame)

Dündar, Gül - MİT Trucks Trial

Photos of trucks belonging to National Intelligence Organization (MİT) transporting ammunition to the north of Syria were published by Cumhuriyet newspaper with the signature of Can Dündar, the editor-in-chief. On May 29, 2015, the headline of the newspaper read “İşte Erdoğan’ın Yok Dediği Silahlar” (“Here are the weapons whose existence Erdoğan denied”). On the same day, the newspaper’s website published photos from the search conducted in the trucks.

The very same day, the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office launched an investigation against Can Dündar, on charges of “obtaining documents regarding the security of the state”, “political and military espionage”, “disclosing confidential information” and “spreading propaganda for a terrorist organization”
President Tayyip Erdoğan personally filed a complaint against Can Dündar, and during a live broadcast dated June 1, 2015, on a TV channel, he targeted Dündar directly: “He will pay a heavy price, I will not let him go.”

On June 12, 2015, Cumhuriyet newspaper’s Ankara Representative Erdem Gül published a news story about the criminal report concerning the ammunition found inside the trucks, under the title “Jandarma Var Dedi” (“The Gendarmerie Confirms the Ammunition”).

The launch of an investigation against Dündar was announced on May 29, 2015 by Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office. However, Dündar and Gül were called to testify at the Çağlayan Courthouse in Istanbul about 6 months after the launch of the investigation.

Istanbul Deputy Chief Public Prosecutor İrfan Fidan in charge of the investigation referred Dündar and Gül to the Criminal Court of Peace for arrest. Dündar and Gül were charged with “knowingly and willingly aiding a terrorist organization without being a member”, “political and military espionage” and “disclosing confidential information.”

Judge of the Criminal Court of Peace, İsmail Yavuz stated that the images of MIT trucks were first published by Can Dündar. In actual fact, Aydınlık newspaper had published the images on January 21, 2014, under the title “İşte TIR’daki Cephane” (“Here is the ammunition in the truck”).

Dündar and Gül were arrested on November 26, 2015. Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor Hadi Salihoğlu stated the following after the arrest order was issued:
“The investigation has nothing to do with the ‘freedom of press’, which is under constitutional protection, and we have taken no action in violation of individual rights and freedoms.”

President Tayyip Erdoğan had previously indicated in his statement concerning Dündar that “This action by the suspect, who is targeting the interests of the state by publishing fabricated images and information, can in no way be considered as journalism.”

Constitutional Court Proceedings

Can Dündar and Erdem Gül applied to the Constitutional Court on December 6, 2015 following their arrest. When they filed their application, the indictment against them had not yet been drafted.

The Constitutional Court ruled that the rights of Dündar and Gül had been violated, on February 25 -shortly before March 25, when the indictment would be completed and the trial would begin. Dündar and Gül were duly released.

President Tayyip Erdoğan made the following remark about the Constitutional Court’s ruling:

“I will remain silent on the ruling by the Constitutional Court, but I don’t have to accept it. I don’t respect this ruling. In fact, the first instance court could have insisted on its own ruling.”

Indictment

President Tayyip Erdoğan and National Intelligence Organization figured as complainants in the indictment drafted by Istanbul Deputy Chief Public Prosecutor İrfan Fidan.

55 news stories and articles were presented as evidence for the charges against Can Dündar. However, none of these articles and news had been investigated before. Only one investigation had been initiated about an article, ending in a decision of non-prosecution.

The indictment’s section concerning Erdem Gül featured only his testimony at the prosecutor’s office and the titles of three news stories. In fact, one of these news stories belonged to not him, but another Cumhuriyet reporter.

It was claimed that Dündar and Gül made publications “attempting to link the state and government to terrorist activities.” According to the prosecutor Dündar and Gül were “in union of action and thought with the terror group FETÖ/PDY.”

The indictment requested that Can Dündar and Erdem Gül be sentenced to one count of aggravated life sentence, one count of life sentence and an additional prison sentence of up to 30 years. Dündar and Gül were charged with “Obtaining confidential information of the state for the purpose of political or military espionage” (Turkish Penal Code 328/1), “Disclosing confidential information about state security for purposes of espionage” (Turkish Penal Code 330/1), “Employing coercion and violence to destroy the government of the Republic of Turkey, or to keep it from performing some or all of its tasks” (Turkish Penal Code 312/1) and “knowingly and willingly aiding a terrorist organization without being a member” (Turkish Penal Code 220/7).

The indictment against Dündar and Gül was accepted by İstanbul 14th High Criminal Court on February 5, 2016. The trial began on March 25, 2016. The hearing was closed to the public.

However, the defenses presented during the hearings and the prosecutor’s questions were shared on the social media via the Twitter accounts of various lawyers’ associations.

At the fourth hearing of the trial on May 6, 2016, the prosecutor announced his opinion as to the accusation concerning Dündar and Gül.

The prosecutor requested up to 25 years in prison for Dündar. In his opinion, the prosecutor pressed charges for “Obtaining and disclosing confidential information about state security or domestic and foreign politics, and complicity in this crime.” The prosecutor requested up to 10 years in prison for Gül. In his opinion, the prosecutor accused Gül of “Disclosing confidential information about state security or domestic and foreign politics.”

The prosecutor requested that the case for charges of “knowingly and willingly aiding an armed terrorist organization without being a member, and attempting a coup” leveled against Dündar and Gül be separated. Accordingly, the final verdict in the trial against the soldiers and prosecutors who had stopped and searched the trucks in question, taking place at Court of Cassation’s 16. Criminal Chamber, had to be awaited.

The trial was temporarily adjourned before the announcement of the verdict on Dündar and Gül. In the meanwhile, Dündar was attacked by an assailant named Murat Şahin in the square in front of the courthouse. Şahin shouted “traitor” during his attack. Dündar escaped unscathed, while the NTV reporter Yağız Şenkal received an injury in his leg. The trial continued after the attack.

The court sentenced Dündar to 5 years, 10 months in prison on charges of “disclosing confidential state documents” (Turkish Penal Code 329/1). Gül was likewise sentenced to 5 years in prison on charges of “disclosing confidential state documents.”

Dündar and Gül were acquitted of charges of “attempting a coup.”

As the proceedings continued, Court of Cassation overturned the verdict about Dündar and Gül. Court of Cassation ruled that Dündar should stand trail not for “disclosing confidential state documents” but for “obtaining the state’s confidential information for purposes of espionage” (Turkish Penal Code 328/1). The new charged to be leveled against Dündar according the Court of Cassation ruling could result in to 15 to 20 years in prison pursuant to Turkish Penal Code, Article 328/1.

Court of Cassation ordered the acquittal of Erdem Gül. After the Court of Cassation overturned the first verdict, Erdem Gül stood trial for “disclosing confidential state documents” and was acquitted.

It was ruled that Dündar and Gül should stand trial for “knowingly and willingly aiding an armed terrorist organization without being a member, and attempting a coup” in a separate trial. The first hearing for this trial took place on September 21, 2016. This trial against Dündar continued in his absence, since he was abroad. CHP MP Enis Berberoğlu was also added to this file as defendant. Berberoğlu was charged with “obtaining the state’s confidential information for the purpose of political and military espionage, and knowingly and willingly aiding the armed organization FETÖ / PDY.” The Prosecutor’s Office claimed that Berberoğlu was the person who gave Can Dündar the information and documents in the news story published in Cumhuriyet.

At the third hearing of this trial on March 11, 2017, the prosecutor expressed his opinion as to the accusations. Prison sentences of up to 10 years were requested for Can Dündar and Erdem Gül on charges of “knowingly and willingly aiding an armed terrorist organization without being a member.” At the 8th hearing of the trial on June 14, 2017, CHP MP Enis Berberoğlu was sentenced to 25 years in prison. The execution of the sentence against Berberoğlu was suspended since he was an MP.

It was ruled that the trial for charges of “knowingly and willingly aiding an armed terrorist organization without being a member, and attempting a coup” against Dündar and Gül should continue in yet another file. So for the third time, a trial began with a separate case number and its first hearing took place on October 4, 2017. In his opinion as to the accusations, the prosecutor requested prison sentences of 7.5 to 15 years for Can Dündar and Erdem Gül. He claimed that Dündar and Gül “knowingly and willingly aided an armed terrorist organization without being a member.” At the ninth hearing of this trial, it was ruled that Gül’s case be dropped, since the lawsuit had not been filed within the 4-month statute of limitations stipulated in the Press Law. The case about Dündar was separated since he was abroad.

Can Dündar’s trial, separated and merged during the judiciary proceedings, will adjourn on October 21, 2019. Dündar stands trial on charges of “obtaining the state’s confidential information for purposes of espionage” and “knowingly and willingly aiding an armed terrorist organization without being a member, and attempting a coup.”

Dündar, Gül - MİT Tırları Davası (İddianame)

Dündar, Gül - MİT Tırları Davası (Gerekçeli Karar)

Dündar, Gül - MİT Tırları Davası (Anayasa Mahkemesi Kararı)

Dündar, Gül - MİT Tırları Davası (Yargıtay Kararı)

Duygu Güvenç, Alican Uludağ - Brunson Trial

A lawsuit was filed against Cumhuriyet newspaper reporter Alican Uludağ and ex-reporter Duygu Güvenç on July 27, 2018, for their news stories published in Cumhuriyet about the American pastor Andrew Brunson who detained in Turkey. In separate news stories, Uludağ and Güvenç wrote that Brunson’s subsequent release was based on political and diplomatic, rather than legal reasons.

The investigation initiated by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office claimed that the journalists “publicly defamed the state’s judicial organs.” The investigation file was sent to the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office of Istanbul, where the Cumhuriyet is located.

In their statements at the prosecutor’s office, Uludağ and Güvenç indicated that they did not defame judiciary organs in their stories and did not have such intent, emphasizing that they simply exercised their rights of journalism and criticism.

Istanbul Public Prosecutor Celal Sarıdere, who is in charge of the investigation, drafted an indictment against the two journalists for allegedly “defaming the Turkish nation, Republic of Turkey and Turkish Grand National Assembly” as per Article 301 of Turkish Penal Code, upon the Ministry of Justice’s approval dated September 5, 2018. Sarıdere completed his indictment on October 1, 2018.

The trial continues at Istanbul 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance. The first hearing of the case was held on December 20, 2018. Alican Uludağ attended the hearing, presented his defense and pleaded not guilty.

The second hearing on April 4, 2019, and the third hearing on June 20, 2019, could not be held, since the judge Nursel Bedir, who presides over the case, was on leave. Duygu Güvenç presented her defense at the fourth hearing on October 10, 2019.

The trial was adjourned until January 9, 2020 at 10:50.

Duygu Güvenç, Alican Uludağ - Brunson Davası (İddianame)