Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office launched an investigation against those criticizing the Operation Olive Branch initiated by the Turkish Armed Forces on January 22, 2018 into the Afrin province of northern Syria. Under the scope of the investigation, 12 people, including journalists Demir and Hürtaş, were detained on the evening of the same day in house raids.
The suspects were taken to the indoor gym used by Ankara Police Department, Anti-Terror Branch as a detention center.
During the police interrogation, Demir and Hürtaş were questioned about their social media posts on the Afrin operation.
Journalist Hürtaş was referred to the prosecutor’s office at the Ankara Courthouse on January 25, 2018. Her statement was taken on charges of “publicly inciting the population to hatred and animosity” and “spreading propaganda of a terrorist organization via the media”. Hürtaş was subsequently released on condition of judicial control.
Journalist Demir was brought to Ankara Courthouse on January 26, 2018. Before he was taken to the prosecutor’s office, he was referred to Criminal Court of Peace on the same charges, with a request for his arrest. The judge on duty ordered that Demir be released with a ban on leaving the country.
The indictment against the defendants was completed on April 9, 2018 by Muhammet Akif Ongun, a prosecutor at the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office. A lawsuit was filed when Ankara 15. High Criminal Court accepted the indictment on May 14, 2018.
The first hearing of the trial was scheduled for September 6, 2018.
At the first hearing, the court ordered the release of 3 defendants under arrest.
At the second hearing of the trial, the defendants’ requests for additional time for preparing their defense was accepted and the trial was adjourned until January 22, 2019. All the defendants were excluded from hearing.
The third hearing was held on March 27, 2019. At the hearing, the prosecutor Nuri Gül requested that the permission of Ministry of Justice be requested for trying seven defendants including Demir for “defaming The Turkish nation, Republic of Turkey, state institutions and organs” as per Turkish Penal Code, Article 301. The court decided to apply to the Ministry of Justice for the investigation of Demir and 6 other defendants as per Article 301.
The next hearing of the case was scheduled for July 3, 2019. At this hearing, the investigation permission letter from the Ministry of Justice had not yet arrived, and therefore, the trial was adjourned until December 3, 2019.
In the hearing, suspects’ request to lift the ban on leaving the country was denied. The hearing was adjourned due to the investigation permits against Demir and some other suspects that were requested from the Ministry of Justice not arriving in time. Next hearing was set to March 26th, 2020.
Hayri Demir, Sibel Hürtaş - Afrin Operasyonu Sosyal Medya Davası (İddianame)
Hayri Demir, Sibel Hürtaş - Afrin Operasyonu Sosyal Medya Davası (Savunma)
Hayri Demir, Sibel Hürtaş - Afrin Operasyonu Sosyal Medya Davası (İkinci Savunma)
The investigation against Eren Keskin, the Editor-in-Chief of Özgür Gündem Newspaper and its Managing Editor Reyhan Çapan, was initiated in 2016 by the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, Press Crimes Investigation Bureau.
The indictment was drafted on April 13, 2016 with reference to the news stories and articles published in Özgür Gündem on March 9, 2016. The indictment was accepted by the 13. High Criminal Court of Istanbul.
The indictment cited as evidence the declarations of “autonomy” in cities in the Southeast Turkey, and pressed charges for “spreading propaganda for actions realized by the terrorist organization PKK/KCK”, “inciting to hatred and violence” and “inciting a section of the population to crime”.
Since the prosecutor could not determine the real identity of the author who used the pseudonym “Seyit Botan” to sign the articles in question, he held Eren Keskin and Reyhan Çapan responsible for their content. He claimed that these articles amounted to propaganda for a terrorist organization. The files for Özgür Gündem contributors who were already in prison, namely İslam Tüner, Methi Kaya and Lütfi Yavuzaslan, and the editor-in-chief Hüseyin Aykol were then merged with this file.
On April 18, 2019, it was ordered that Eren Keskin’s file be separated and merged with the Özgür Gündem main trial underway at the İstanbul 23. High Criminal Court.
The prosecutor submitted his opinion as to the accusations at the 12th hearing, in July 2019. He requested that all the defendants be sentenced for “inciting to crime “, “praising the crime and the criminal” and “spreading propaganda for a terrorist organization”; and that Hüseyin Aykol and Reyhan Çapan be sentenced also for “continuously committing a crime”.
The trial was adjourned until November 21, 2019 for the defendants to prepare their defense as to the accusations.
In the hearing, request of the attorneys for time to prepare defence arguments was granted and the next hearing was set to February 20th, 2020.
Hüseyin Aykol, Eren Keskin, Reyhan Çapan - Özgür Gündem Davası (İddianame)
Harun Çümen, former editor-in-chief of the shuttered Zaman Newspaper, was detained on March 4, 2018 and arrested on March 7, 2018. He is currently in Balıkesir Prison. The indictment against Çümen and three other individuals was drafted on October 1, 2018 by Ahmet Gezgin Çam. The indictment was accepted by Istanbul 32. High Criminal Court.
In the indictment it was stated that Çümen “had an account at Bank Asya, was a member of the trade union called PAK MEDYA İŞ SENDİKASI, and had four phone calls with a senior leader of FETÖ/PDY” and that he was registered to the Social Security Institution by the company Feza Gazetecilik A.Ş. which was “sanctioned for alleged links to the armed terror group FETÖ/PDY”.
In his defense provided in the indictment, Çümen stated that after graduating from Istanbul University in 1996, he began working as an intern reporter at Zaman Newspaper, and had risen to the position of managing editor at the newspaper, where he worked until 2016. He explained that “I was practically obliged to join the said trade union as a Zaman Newspaper employee.” He indicated that the said individual he talked to on the phone was simply the editor-in-chief of Zaman Newspaper. He added that he had come to Keşan on March 4, 2018 to purchase olives and olive oil.
“I worked at Zaman newspaper, the media arm of the said organization, only to make a living. I have these connections due to my work. After the newspaper was closed down, I could not receive my severance pay. I am an injured party for this reason”, he added. He stated that he had no information about the individuals mentioned in the indictment who were detained in another vehicle on the same day in Keşan, allegedly trying to go abroad. he pleaded not guilty for the charges in the indictment.
The first hearing was held on January 8, 2019, and at the last hearing held on July 18, 2019, Çümen was sentenced to 7 years, 6 months in prison on charges of “membership of a terrorist organization”.
The Zaman Newspaper had been closed down in July 2016 as per the Decree Law No. 668 titled “Measures to be Taken Under the State of Emergency and Actions Against Certain Institutions and Companies”.
Harun Çümen - FETÖ Davası (İddianame)
Hasan Cemal was sued for his article titled “Silvan’dan: Bizi acılara, ölümlere o kadar alıştırdılar ki…” (“From Silvan: They have accustomed us to death…”) published on December 4, 2015 on the news web site T24, where he shared his observations from Silvan and his interviews with two locals and the then-Silvan Co-Mayor.
Diyarbakır Chief Public Prosecutor Kenan Karaca completed his indictment on June 28, 2018. Prosecutor Karaca cited phrases by the individuals that Hasan Cemal had spoken to, such as “You can’t solve the problem and bring peace with tanks and cannons”, “They have accustomed us to death and suffering …”, “…We do not lose anything from our ambition to struggle”, and claimed that by publishing these phrases in his article Cemal “legitimized the activities of the terrorist organization”, “praised and supported violent acts” and “encouraged people to employ such methods”.
The prosecutor claimed that Hasan Cemal had committed the crime of “spreading propaganda for a terrorist organization” via the press as per Article 7/2 of Anti-Terror Law. He requested that Cemal be punished with prison of 1.5 to 7.5 years.
The trial lasted 3 hearings. At the final hearing on May 7, 2019, the court sentenced Cemal to 1 year, 6 months, 22 days of prison pursuant to Article 7/2 of Anti-Terror Law. Since Cemal was sentenced to 1 year, 3 months of imprisonment by another court on charges of “spreading propaganda for a terrorist organization”, his sentence was reduced. As a result, the court handed down a judicial fine of 3360 TL to Hasan Cemal.
Hasan Cemal - Silvan Davası Download
Hasan Cemal - Silvan Davası (İddianame)
Hasan Cemal - Silvan Davası (Duruşma Tutanağı)
Journalist Hayri Demir was taken into custody in Ankara on March 16, 2017, and after eight days in detention he was released on condition of judicial control. In this investigation, Demir was charged for the news stories he penned from northern Syria controlled by Democratic Union Party (PYD - Partiya Yekîtiya Demokrat). The indictment was completed by Ankara Public Prosecutor Muhammed Akif Ongun on May 16, 2019 at the end of more than two years of investigation.
When the indictment was issued, it turned out that the evidence in the investigation was obtained by the prosecutor when the camera memory cards stolen by thieves who had broken into Demir’s house on February 28, 2016 ended up in the police department. According to the indictment, an individual named Ö.H. had found the said memory cards on the street where Demir lived less than 24 hours after the breaking and entering, and sent these to the police.
The prosecutor claimed in the indictment that the footage and photo taken by Demir in Syria for journalistic purposes were tantamount to “activity within a terrorist organization”. The indictment also cited Demir’s social media posts and charged him for “membership of a terrorist organization” and “spreading propaganda for a terrorist organization”.
The indictment was accepted by Ankara 15. High Criminal Court, where Demir’s trial was underway. Demir was charged of “membership of an armed terrorist organization” and “spreading propaganda for an armed terrorist organization”, and the trial began on September 24, 2019.
Demir attended the hearing, stated that he had not been presented the indictment, and demanded extra time for preparing his defense. The court accepted Demir’s request and adjourned the trial until October 23, 2019.
Presenting his defense at the second hearing of the trial, Demir drew attention to the fact that the charges against him corresponded entirely to his journalistic activities and that the file included no evidence apart from these activities: “This file is nothing but a conspiracy against me,” Demir said. He indicated that the case was filed after the memory cards stolen from his house were handed over to the police, and stated that the evidence was obtained in an illicit manner. Demir demanded his acquittal.
The trial was adjourned until January 23, 2020.
Hayri Demir - Üyelik, Propaganda Davası (İddianame)
Cumhuriyet Daily reporter Hazal Ocak’s article “Luxurious Appurtenances with View over Bosphorus” was published in the paper at October 6th, 2019.
The article underlined the fact that the zoning ban of historic Hüseyin Avni Paşa Grove, which had Hüseyin Avni Paşa Mansion inside its skirts. The article said “the zoning ban was lifter after businessman Mehmet Cengiz had bought the mansion”. It also pointed out that there were new constructions going on inside the Grove. It also included the reactions of the community dwellers.
After the article was published, Cengiz Holding CEO Mehmet Cengiz’s attorney Ahmet Mutlu, at October 7th, 2019, filed an official complaint at Istanbul Anadolu Civil Court of First Instance on Duty.
The complaint claimed that Cengiz’s “personal rights were violated”. It was claimed that the article was “against the reality”, “missing”, and “full of wrong and misleading information”. The complaint claimed that “These kind of news that aim to create the conception that a businessman is ‘a person acting against the law’, even though they are baseless, create irreparable damages regarding credibility and reputation”.
It was requested that a lawsuit of compensation for damages for 1 Million Turkish Liras was to be opened against journalist Hazal Ocak and Cumhuriyet Foundation President Alev Coşkun.
The trial started with the first hearing at January 8th, 2020 in Istanbul 14th Civil Court of First Instance.
Journalist Hazal Ocak and her attorney Buket Yazıcı were present at the hearing, as well as Mehmet Cengiz’s attorney Talanur Peker.
Judge Karakuş, asked the parties if they would accepted an arbitrager. Both parties said they did not accept the arbitrager.
Journalist Hazal Ocak said, “Journalism was a childhood dream of mine. For the past 6 years I have been making news on city and the environment. At this location I made many news. There were many complaints about this area. Community dwellers care a lot about this place. I have gotten so many denunciations from there. Because of this I wrote the article. I was shocked to see the 1 million TL claim for damages. I do not accept the charges.”
Judge Karakuş asked both parties to notify the court in case if they had any witnesses.
Second hearing of the case took place at January 23rd, 2020. Judge Karakuş, decided to write an official letter to the Istanbul Üsküdar Directorate of Land Registry in order to summon the land registers of the buildings that are subject to the news.
3rd case of the trial was held at March 4th, 2020. At this hearing, witnesses Hazal Ocak requested were heard.
Judge granted time to the parties to make statements against the witnesses. And also, by request of Hazal Ocak’s attorney, decided to summon the trial cases regarding the construction area. And also granted time to the parties to make statements against the witnesses.
The trial will continue with the 4th hearing at June 17th, 2020.
Hazal Ocak Tazminat Davası (Şikayet Dilekçesi)
The houses of 20 people including Etkin News Agency (ETHA) correspondents İsminaz Temel and Havva Cuştan, and lawyers from Law Office for the Oppressed (EHB) were raied on October 9, 2017. The raid was organized within the scope of an investigation initiated by Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office.
After the raid, Temel, Cuştan and 16 people were taken into custody. 13 members including Temel and Cuştan were arrested on October 25, 2017. Female detainees were taken to Bakırköy Women’s Closed Prison and male detainees to Silivri Closed Prison No. 9.
On March 22, 2018, the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office drafted an indictment against 23 people, 13 of whom were already detained, and the indictment was accepted by Istanbul 27. High Criminal Court.
In the indictment drafted by the public prosecutor Kenan Zurnacı, remarkably, it was claimed that journalists İsminaz Temel and Havva Cuştan took part in the protests which they had covered as journalists. Secret witness statements were included in the file. All the charges dated back to before the year 2014.
The indictment requested that 23 individuals be sentenced for “membership of armed terrorist organization” [Marxist-Leninist Communist Party -MLKP] as per Turkish Penal Code, Article 314/2. and Anti-Terror Law Article 5/1 and “spreading propaganda for a terrorist organization” as per Anti-Terror Law Article 7/2. The penalties requested were prison sentences from 10 to 15 years pursuant to Turkish Penal Code, 312/2 and from 1 to 5 years according to Anti-Terror Law 7/2; in other words, prison sentences reaching 11 to 20 years in total.
The first hearing of the case was held on July 17, 2018. At the hearing on the first day of the two-day trial, the court members changed since the chairman of the panel of judges Abdurrahman Orkun Dağ was appointed to the Court of Cassation by the Judges and Prosecutors Board (HSK). Halit İçdemir, the senior member of the panel, was appointed as the chairman. A temporary judge was appointed to the panel from outside.
On the second day of the trial, the court ordered the release of five defendants, including journalist Havva Cuştan. The detention of seven people, including ETHA correspondent İsminaz Temel, was ordered to continue.
At the third hearing of the case, the court ordered the continuation of the detention of journalist İsminaz Temel and two persons.
İsminaz Temel was released at the fourth hearing of the case on February 14, 2019 with judicial control in the form of a ban on going abroad. At the trial on April 24, 2019, the last two detained defendants were also released.
The court ordered the continuation of the judicial controls in the form of a ban on going abroad. The trial was adjourned until November 26, 2019, 10:15 a.m.
7th hearing of the case was held at November 26th, 2019. The anonymous witness that made statements about the suspects was listened. Witness answered some of the questions by saying “I’d like to exercise my right to remain silent”. These expressions were put in the records as “I don’t want to talk in order to keep my identity unrevealed” by the presiding judge. This action of the presiding judge caused controversy. At the end of the hearing the presiding judge, in the interlocutory judgement ruled to not listen to the other 2 anonymous witnesses who were not listened yet. As the grounds of this decision he said “considering the scope of the case and the situation of the evidences”. Interlocutory judgment ruled for continuation of the judicial control measures against the suspects. Next hearing was set to March 13th, 2020.
Havva Cuştan, İsminaz Temel - ETHA Davası (İddianame)