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Selman Keleş, Arif Aslan - Trial for Membership of a Terrorist Organization

Dihaber Agency’s reporter Selman Keleş, and journalist Arif Arslan, who worked for Van İpekyolu Municipality, were detained on March 20, 2017 while taking photos of the concrete barriers in front of the Van Metropolitan Municipality building. They were arrested on March 31, 2017. Dihaber Agency, which Keleş worked for, was closed down by Decree Law No. 693 issued on August 25, 2017.

An indictment was drafted by Van Public Prosecutor Emrah Güngör, on charges of “membership of an armed terrorist organization”. Keleş and Arslan were released at the first hearing on November 21, 2017. Upon the prosecutor’s objection to this ruling, a second arrest warrant was issued against them.

Selman Keleş was detained in Diyarbakır on December 12, 2017 and released on December 13, 2017. He left Turkey and applied for asylum in Switzerland. The court put Arif Aslan on probation and banned him from going abroad.

The hearing on September 5, 2019 lasted three minutes. The court adjourned the trial until January 16, 2020 on the grounds that the statement of Selman Keleş, who had applied for asylum in Switzerland, could not be taken.

Selman Keleş, Arif Aslan - Üyelik Davası (İddianame)

Selman Keleş, Arif Aslan - Üyelik Davası (İddianame)

Safiye Alağaş - Propaganda of an Organization Trial

After banning access to Jin News web site eight times, Information and Communication Technologies Authority (BTK) filed a criminal complaint against the web site’s News Manager Safiye Alağaş with Diyarbakır Proseuctor’s Office, alleging that the news stories on the web site were tantamount to propaganda for a terrorist organization.

An investigation was launched against Alağaş on March 26, 2018 following this complaint. Diyarbakır Public Prosecutor Tufan Çaldıran completed the investigation and prepared an indictment against Alağaş on July 5, 2018.

The indictment cited as evidence for crime the photos of PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan used in news articles, photos of YPJ members [Yekîneyên Parastina Jin - Women’s Popular Defense Units] killed in combat, news stories about the attacks on Efrîn and various articles published under the column dubbed Women’s Pen.

In the indictment, up to five years of prison sentence was requested for Alağaş for ”spreading propaganda for a terrorist organization“. Safiye Alağaş gave her statement at Diyarbakır Police Department within the scope of this investigation, stressing that the agency is focusing on stories concerning women and children.

The first hearing of the indictment adopted by Dıyarbakır 4. High Criminal Court was held on December 11.

At the second hearing held on October 22, 2019, Safiye Alağaş was acquitted of the charges.

Safiye Alağaş - Propaganda Davası (İddianame)

Seda Taşkın - Propaganda of an Organization Trial

Journalist Seda Taşkın was detained on December 20, 2017 in Muş while following a news story for Mesopotamia News Agency. Half an hour after she was identity checked and released, she was summoned to the Muş Police Department by a police officer saying “There is a document you need to sign” on the phone. On the road to the police department, an armored vehicle approached her, and the police detained her claiming “There is a serious tip-off about you”.

Her file was declared to be “secret”. Following the interrogation by the police, she was referred to the prosecutor’s office, which in turn referred her to the court demanding her arrest. On December 23, the criminal court of peace released her on condition of judicial control. After the Prosecutor’s Office objected to her release on December 27, she was detained again on January 22, 2018 during a police raid on her house in Ankara.

She was subsequently arrested on January 23, on charges of “membership of a terrorist organization” (Turkish Penal Code, 314/2) after her statement was taken by Bitlis Criminal Court of Peace via the judiciary videoconferencing system SEGBİS.

The indictment was completed on February 2, 2018 by Muş Public Prosecutor Muhammed Mustafa Demirbaş. Muş 2. High Criminal Court accepted the indictment on March 2, 2018 and opened a lawsuit. She stood trial on charges of “spreading propaganda for a terrorist organization” (Anti-Terror Law, 7/2) and “membership of a terrorist organization” (TPC, 314/2).

The 47-page indictment cited as evidence the phone conversations she had with news sources, as well as news stories and social media posts.
The first hearing was held on April 30 at the Muş 2. High Criminal Court. Journalist Taşkın was connected to the hearing via SEGBİS from Sincan Women’s Prison. During the hearing it turned out that the tip-off e-mail about Taşkın came from an address with the extension “egm”, used by members of the police. The hearing was adjourned until July 2, 2018, while the court ordered the continuation of her detention.

At the second hearing of the case, the court ordered the continuation of her detention once again.

At the third hearing on September 12, 2018, the prosecutor submitted his opinion as to the accusations, and demanded that Taşkın be sentenced for “membership of a terrorist organization” and “continuously spreading propaganda”.

The court handed down a prison sentence of 7 years, 6 months at the final hearing.

The lawyers filed an appeal against the ruling with the Erzurum Regional Court, which ordered the release of Taşkın.

The final hearing of the appeal proceedings was held on May 15, 2019. At the end of the hearing, the court acquitted Taşkın on charges of “knowing and willingly aiding the organization without being part of its hierarchical structure”. However she was sentenced to 1 year, 11 months, 10 days of imprisonment on charges of “spreading propaganda for a terrorist organization”, but the announcement of the verdict was deferred.

Upon the objection by the prosecutor’s office, the file was referred to the Court of Cassation, where the proceedings are still under way.

Seda Taşkın - Örgüt Propagandası Davası (İddianame)

Sertaç Kayar - Social Media Posts Trial

Sertaç Kayar, a reporter with the Sputnik Turkey web site, was charged with “spreading propaganda for a terrorist organization” based on his Facebook and Twitter posts. In the indictment he drafted on May 7, 2018, prosecutor Cem Koray Eryılmaz cited Kayar’s following posts on Facebook as evidence:

“His post dated November 15, 2017 reads “A comment on the BBC news story about YPG” and features a photo showing a mountain guerilla from PKK holding a weapon,

“His post dated October 17, 2017 reads ‘Today Kerkük, tomorrow the entire Kurdistan’,

“His post dated September 29, 2017 reads “We consider the threat against Kurdistan as a threat against Diyarbakır as well” and features a photo
of members of the terrorist organization.“

Sertaç Kayar told the prosecutor that the social media account in question indeed belongs to him, that he has been using it for about seven years, and that he himself has made the posts and comments in question.

Stating that he has been working as a journalist for 12 years, Kayar indicated that “he was working on news stories and photographs for national and international media outlets, that he had no links with PKK, and that therefore he did not accept the charges levelled against him”.

Kayar was charged, as per Law no. 3713, Article 7/2, of spreading propaganda for a terrorist organization through the press and in a continuous manner, by using his open social media profile, and the court ordered that he stand trial on these charges since there was sufficient suspicion to necessitate the opening of a public lawsuit.

Sertaç Kayar - Sosyal Medya Paylaşımları Davası (İddianame)

Sertaç Kayar - Trial for Leading a Terrorist Organization

An investigation was launched against Sertaç Kayar, a reporter for Sputnik Turkey web site, on January 17, 2018, by the Public Proseuctor Şahsuvar Yıldız. The indicement claimed that during 2010-2012 when Sertaç Kayar worked for Dicle News Agency (DİHA) as reporter, he was a member of the 101-strong permanent assembly of Democratic Society Congress (DTK), carried out journalistic activities on their behalf, participated in 31 different protests on separate dates organized by PKK/KCK and was a leader of the organization.

The indictment alleged that “DTK is an organization that corresponds to the ‘four pillars paradigm’ of Abdullah Öcalan and supposedly functioned as a constitutent assembly”; “DTK was founded and structured upon the orders of Abdullah Öcalan so as to implement the group’s strategy of democratic autonomy”; “It is the legislative organ that acts like the parliament of KCK/TM and operates as an assembly”.

The accusation of “leadership of a terrorist organization” is based on wire-tapping by the police as regards the demo organized by DTK on July 14, 2011.

The prosecutor’s office claimed that Kayar, between the years 2012- 2013, participated in DTK meetings with a view to establishing democratic autonomy and an independent Kurdistan, and this was detected through intelligence activities carried out as per Law of Criminal Procedure, Articles 135 and 140.

It is claimed that Sertaç Kayar made calls to invite individuals to DTK meetings and informed them about the meeting agendas.

The indictment also cites a statement by the witness Menderes Öner received on November 29, 2011 at Istanbul Police Department, Anti-Terror Branch: “The following are members of PKK terror organizations’ print and visual media branches… Sertaç Kayar was the chief correspondent of Dicle News Agency in Diyarbakır…”.

After listing these allegations, the prosecutor’s office requested that Kayar be sentenced to prison “for leading an armed terrorist organization and for a duration above the lower imprisonment limit for this crime, in consideration of the continuity, intensity and diversity of his activities”.

The prosecutor requested a prison sentence of 10 to 15 years of prison for “leading an armed terrorist organization” as per Turkish Penal Code, Article 314/1, and then the increase of this sentence to 15 to 22,5 years as per Anti-Terror Law, Article 5.

The first hearing of the trial in which Kayar was tried without detention took place at Diyarbakır 10. High Criminal Court on November 21, 2018. The court was chaired by judge Şükrü Altunay, and the other judges were Nuray Yalçın Erk and Haşim Taştan. The prosecutor was Mustafa Bilen.
Kayar attended the hearing along with his lawyer Şıvan Cemil Özen.

The lawyer Şıvan Cemil Özen stated that his client Sertaç Kayar penned a news story about the Fethullah Gülen sect in 2010 when he worked for Dicle News Agency, indicating how the sect leaked the answers to the KPSS exam. Özen indicated that an investigation was launched against Kayar for this story, and that the investigation had ended in a ruling of non-persecution. He requested that this ruling be included in his file, and stated that wire-tapping against Kayar began after this first investigation. Kayar stated that in the wire-tapping recording, there was talk about an individual named Sertaç, but no surname was mentioned.

Afterwards, the lawyer indicated that in the footage showing Sertaç Kayar going to the DTK meeting he had his camera case hanging on his arm, showing that he was there for journalistic purposes. The chairman of the panel of judges asked Sertaç Kayar if he knew Menderes Öner, and Kayar said that he did not remember him.

Lawyer Şıvan Cemil Özen demanded that Menderes Öner be heard as witness in court. At the end of the hearing, the court accepted the request that Menderes Öner be heard as witness.

The next hearing was scheduled for April 5, 2019. Şükrü Altunay (chairman of the panel of judges), Nuray Yalçın Erk and Haşim Taştan (judges) and Mustafa Bilen (prosecutor) took part in the hearing, and Kayar attended alongside his lawyer.

The hearing was postponed to June 26, 2019 as the statement of the witness Menderes Öner had not been taken. The same panel of judges took part in that hearing. It was indicated there that Menderes Öner’s statement was taken by Çorum High Criminal Court and that his statement had been added to the file. Şivan Özen, Kayar’s lawyer requested that the court demand information from Diyarbakır Public Prosecutor’s Office as to whether any information or document about Kayar was found during the search of the Democratic Society Congress (DTK). The chairman of the panel of judges requested the Diyarbakır Public Prosecutor’s Office to report whether any information or documents about the defendant were found during the search of the Democratic Society Congress (DTK).

The trial was adjourned until December 4, 2019.

Sertaç Kayar - Yöneticilik Davası (İddianame)

Sözcü Newspaper Trial

Police raided the homes of Sözcü newspaper’s owner and employees on May 19, 2017 for allegedly commiting crimes for FETÖ.

An arrest warrant was issued for the owner Burak Akbay who was not at home. İzmir correspondent Gökmen Ulu, the web site’s managing editor Mediha Olgun and finance director Y.Y. were detained. After one week of detention, Y.Y. was released pending trial. Mediha Ongun was held in custody until September 22, 2017 and Gökmen Ulu until November 8, 2017.

In his indictment dated September 26, 2017, Chief Public Prosecutor Asım Ekren accused Burak Akbay of “managing an armed terrorist organization and spreading propaganda for a terrorist organization”, and Mediha Ongun, Gökmen Ulu and Yonca Yücekaleli of “knowingly and willingly aiding a terror organization without being part of its hierarchical structure”.

İstanbul 37. High Criminal Court accepted the indictment. It was stated that Sözcü published a story titled “Sözcü located Erdoğan” on July 15, 2016, the day of the coup attempt, pointing to the President’s whereabouts on that day. It was claimed that this was tantamount to “providing guidance to assassination attempts, and aiding and abetting the criminal offense”. Numerous news stories and columns from Sözcü newspaper were mentioned in the indictment under the charges of “knowingly and willingly aiding a terror organization without being part of its hierarchical structure”.

Meanwhile Chief Public Prosecutor had prepared a separate indictment accusing Sözcü’s editor-in-chief Metin Yılmaz and contributors Mustafa Çetin, Necati Doğru, Yücel Arı and Mustafa Emin Çölaşan of “knowingly and willingly aiding a terror organization without being part of its hierarchical structure”, to be merged with the indictment drafted by prosecutor Ekren. The same court accepted in December 2018 this second indictment which mentioned the previous indictment and tip-off petitions among the evidence.

At the hearing on January 18, 2019, the court ruled the merger of the two files, and scheduled the first hearing of the merged trial for March 12, 2019. However, the hearing was held on March 15, 2019. Before the hearing on April 18, 2019, the prosecutor submitted his judicial opinion requesting prison sentences. The 7. hearing of the case was held on October 28, 2019. In consideration of the changes introduced by the judiciary reform package, the court sent the file back to the public prosecutor for examination. The trial was adjourned until December 27.

Sözcü Gazetesi Davası (İddianame)

Sözcü Newspaper's First Trial

Police raided the homes of Sözcü newspaper’s owner and employees on May 19, 2017 for allegedly commiting crimes for FETÖ.

An arrest warrant was issued for the owner Burak Akbay who was not at home. İzmir correspondent Gökmen Ulu, the web site’s managing editor Mediha Olgun and finance director Yonca Yücekaleli were detained. After one week of detention, Yonca Yücekaleli was released pending trial. Ulu and Ongun remained in custody until the second hearing on November 8, 2017.

A prosecutor with Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, Arif Cemal Özkurşun drafted the indictment in October 2017, claiming that the story “Sözcü located Erdoğan” signed by Gökmen Ulu and published at 16.25 on July 15, 2016, pointed to the President’s whereabouts on that day and was tantamount to “providing guidance to assassination attempts, and aiding and abetting the criminal offense”. Numerous news stories and columns from Sözcü newspaper were mentioned in the indictment under the charges of “knowingly and willingly aiding a terror organization without being part of its hierarchical structure”.

The 5th hearing, which was held on November 7, 2018, lasted 7 minutes. The newspaper’s lawyers demanded the abrogation of arrest warrants and judicial controls against their clients, and the court rejected this demand.

Sözcü Gazetesi İlk Davası (İddianame)