Yeni Yaşam newspaper published on March 1, 2019 a story titled “Cruelty Against Prisoners in Afrin”. After the news story was published, prosecutor Hidayet Sarıkaya of Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, Press Crimes Investigation Bureau penned an indictment, which requested the sentencing of the managing editor of the said newspaper as per Turkish Penal Code, Article 301, that is,“explicity denigrating the state of the Turkish Republic, and its military and police organizations”.
The prosecutor Sarıkaya stated that the news story indicated that, after the operation by the Turkish army and the Free Syrian Army into Afrin, thousands of civilians were kidnapped in the city center and neighboring towns and handed over to the Turkish army; that some of these civilians were killed while others were locked in prisons set up in Afrin; and that certain individuals were arrested and brought to Turkey for allegedly belonging to the YPG - YPJ [People’s Defense Units]. The news story further claimed that those imprisoned were subjected to days and weeks of intense torture, from naked search to beating, and that all these civilians from Afrin were battered by the soldiers and prison guards. Prosecutor
Sarıkaya summarized this content in his indictment and portrayed it as “fabricated news”.
Prosecutor Sarıkaya claimed that the news story as a whole was tantamount to “denigrating the state of the Turkish Republic, and its military and police organizations,” and requested that Akın be sentenced to six months to two years of imprisonment as per Turkish Penal Code, Article 301/2.
The Istanbul 2. Criminal Court of First Instance accepted the indictment. The first hearing of the trial was held on October 1, 2019. The trial was adjourned considering the possibility that the new judiciary reform package could have an effect on the case.
Second hearing of the case took place at January 9th, 2019. Hearing started with Judge Nursel Bedir’s ‘warning’ for the journalists. Bedir laughingly said, “Do not write everything I say in the news. We are talking between us, write only the subjects relevant to the case” to the journalists which caused laughter around the courtroom.
After that attorney Özcan Kılıç took the stand and stated that they will present their defence as to the accusations. Attorney Kılıç said he will make a statement in a summarised way.
Kılıç said, “News regarding this case include the practises in the jail. What happened in Hatay Prison is the subject of this article. We need to discuss the reality and correctness of this article. In journalism it is possible that some news are not real. Ministry of Justice permits to open a case, right away. An official complaint was made to the Prosecutor’s Office, right away without a request for a disclaimer regarding these news. We see so many fake news in the papers but no one says a word about them. This is not a personal case, this case concerns the state. There is a professional activity here and it is described as a crime. An article against the correction officer is seen as an article against the state.
We plead not guilty and request acquittal.
After a short break judge Bedir announced the verdict and sentenced Akın to 6 months of prison time for “Publicly degrading the Republic of Turkey, the military or security organisations”. Judge, then reduced the sentenced by 1/6 for good conduct time, to 5 months. Announcement of Akın’s verdict was deferred.
Osman Akın Yeni Yaşam Davası (İddianame)
Prosecutor Yavuz Şahin from Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, Press Crimes Investigation Bureau drafted an indictment against Osman Akın, managing editor of Yeni Yaşam newspaper. Istanbul 28. High Criminal Court accepted the indictment and the lawsuit was launched. The first hearing of the case on charges of “spreading continuous propaganda for a terrorist organization“ was scheduled for June 20, 2019.
Akın and his lawyer Özcan Kılıç were in attendance at the first hearing of the trial. Ersin Özaslan (chairman of the panel of judges), judges Muhsin Önay and Merve Çınar, and prosecutor Mehmet Fatih Aldemir were in charge.
Presenting his defense at the hearing, Akın stated the following in summary:
“I am the managing editor of Yeni Yaşam newspaper. I do not accept the charges levelled against me in the indictment. First of all, I would like to emphasize that the stories and articles in question are not discussed in a holistic manner in the indictment; a few words, concepts or phrases are singled out to constitute grounds for the accusations. There is no material and legal evidence or finding to point to propaganda for a terrorist organization in the news and articles in question.”
“These news stories and articles were taken from various web sites and news agencies, and were published for the purposes of informing the general public within the framework of the freedom of the press and expression, since they have journalistic value. These news stories and articles do not encourage acts of violence nor create an atmosphere of terror; nor do they incite the public and individuals to commit crime. I do not accept the charges levelled against me in this indictment.”
Afterwards, prosecutor Aldemir said that there was no further evidence to be added to the case file and submitted his opinion as to the accusations at the first hearing. He requested that Osman Akın be sentenced since “he spread propaganda to legitmize the violent methods of the armed terror group PKK/KCK, incite recourse to such violence, and drew public attention to the leader of the organization and to protests against his supposed isolation in prison.”.
The court was adjourned until October 22, for the preparation of defense against the opinion as to the accusations.
Osman Akın Propaganda Davası (İddianame)
An investigation was launched against Yeni Yaşam newspaper after a tip-off about its issues dated May 21-22, 2019. The two issues were not on the Department of Security’s Banned Publications List at that time. However, an individual named Namık Zafer Şahin residing in Kocaeli came to Kocaeli Başiskele Police Department and filed an application claiming that the Yeni Yaşam newspaper had committed crime. The Kocaeli Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office ruled for lack of jurisdiction and sent the file to Istanbul.
The investigation thus launched focused on three news stories about PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan and another prisoner published on two issues dated May 21-22, 2015.
At the end of the investigation conducted by Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, Press Crimes Investigation Bureau, prosecutor Osman Belen prepared an indictment. In the indictment Osman Akın, the managing editor, was accused for these three news stories. Akın was charged with “spreading continuous propaganda for a terrorist organization” as per Article 7/2 of the Anti-Terror Law, and a prison sentence from 1 year, 3 months to 8 years, 9 months was requested.
The indictment was accepted by the Istanbul 24. High Criminal Court. The date of the first hearing was scheduled as January 14, 2020.
Osman Akın Yeni Yaşam Propaganda Davası (İddianame)
A tip-off e-mail was sent to Bursa Police Department concerning the editor of the news web site Bursa Muhalif, Ozan Kaplanoğlu. In the e-mail, it was claimed that Kaplanoğlu “spread propaganda for a terrorist organization” through the books he published on his web site.
He was detained on May 4, 2017. He was arrested on May 5, 2017 and sent to Denizli T-Type Prison.
The indictment against him was completed on June 2, 2017.
In the indictment it was claimed that Kaplanoğlu “worked towards the objectives and strategies of the terror group THKP/C” and “made efforts to recruit militants for the armed terrorist organization”.
The indictment alleged that Kaplanoğlu concealed his own name and published a book under the pseudonym ”Uğur Gündüz”. However, Uğur Gündüz was not a pseudonym. The book by Uğur Gündüz had been originally published in 1994. Ozan Kaplanoğlu was only 3 years old in 1994.
The indictment mentioned the results of an examination into Kaplanoğlu’s Facebook account.
He was also accused of attending commemoration rallies organized by Halkevleri.
Kaplanoğlu was charged with “spreading propaganda for a terrorist organization” through the press and a prison sentence of 1.5 to 7.5 years was requested.
At the first hearing held on August 2, 2017 at Bursa 10. High Criminal Court, he was released with a ban on going abroad.
The trial lasted 8 hearings. At the final hearing dated September 12, 2019, he was sentenced to 1 year, 6 months, 22 days of imprisonment on charges of “spreading propaganda for a terrorist organization through the press”.
An appeal has been filed against the verdict.
Ozan Kaplanoğlu - Propaganda Davası (İddianame)
Ozan Kaplanoğlu - Propaganda Davası (Duruşma Tutanağı)
Ozan Kaplanoğlu - Propaganda Davası (Duruşma Tutanağı)