Memiş worked as a journalist for 20 years at İhlas News Agency, Ortadoğu and Günaydın newspapers, and internet portals such as Time Türk, Cafe Siyaset and Rota News.
He was granted the “Special Internet News Award” in a contest held by the Media Ethics Council in 2012.
Memiş was the former news coordinator of the now-closed Haberdar internet news portal.
Memiş was placed in custody on 23 July 2016 due to allegations that he “was affiliated with FETÖ media structure” as part of the investigation launched by the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office of Istanbul. The custody procedures lasted for two days. He was referred to the court to be remanded following the prosecutor’s questioning. Memiş was remanded in custody on the charge of “membership of an armed terrorist organisation” by the ruling of the 3rd Criminal Court of Peace of Istanbul on 25 July 2016. He was taken to the Silivri Closed High Security Prison.
Memiş spent six months in prison awaiting the indictment to be prepared. The indictment charged Memiş with “membership of an armed terrorist organisation”. The prosecution demanded that Memiş be sentenced to imprisonment of between five years and 10 years.
He was released pending trial at the first hearing of the trial on 31 March 2017. The prosecutor’s office objected to the release order. The court ruled that Memiş be remanded before he was even released from prison.
At the end of the trial, Memiş was sentenced to imprisonment of seven years and six months on the charge of “membership of an armed terrorist organisation” on 8 March 2018.
The court of appeals approved the imprisonment sentence on 22 October 2018.
The Court of Cassation overturned the imprisonment sentence on 16 March 2020. Following the overturning of the sentence, the prosecution file was returned to the local court.
Ahmet Memiş was released pending trial by the ruling of the 25th High Criminal Court of Istanbul on 15 June 2020. He had been in prison for three years and 10 months when he was released.
The retrial process is ongoing.
Journalist Ahmet Memiş was sentenced to seven years and six months in prison within the scope of the trial known as the “”FETÖ’s Media Organization Trial.”
Following the overturning of the sentences concerning the eight journalists, including Ahmet Memiş, by the Court of Cassation, the file was returned to the 25th High Criminal Court of Istanbul for retrial.
The decision overturning the verdict of the journalists was uploaded to the National Judiciary Informatics System on 8 June 2020.
Before the first hearing of the retrial, the court ruled to release six out of eight journalists pending trial. Six journalists, including Ahmet Memiş, were released through the court ruling on 15 June 2020.
Said six journalists had been in prison for three years and 10 months when they were released.
The retrial of eight journalists including Memiş, began with the first hearing on November 4th, 2020 at Istanbul 25. High Criminal Court. Memiş and the other journalists participated in the hearing with their lawyers.
The hearing prosecutor requested that the court abide by Court of Cassation’s decision to overrule the verdict. The court accepted the request.
In his defense speech, Memiş said, “Fuat Avni’s tweets were newsworthy. If something is newsworthy, then we cover it. If Fuat Avni’s tweets constitute a crime, then a criminal investigation should be launched against all journalists in Turkey, and all newspapers and TVs should be shut down, since everyone reported on Fuat Avni’s tweets. I have no ties with the said organization. I never had a bank account in Bank Asya. I am a journalist.”
Memiş and his lawyer requested that the probation measures against Memiş be lifted. The court did not accept the request.
The retrial will continue with the second hearing scheduled for March 31st, 2021.
09:30’da başlaması beklenen duruşma mahkeme heyetinin yerini almasıyla birlikte 20 dakika gecikme ile başladı. Duruşmada yargılanan gazeteciler Ünal Tanık, Ahmet Memiş, Yetkin Yıldız, Cemal Azami Kalyoncu, Yakup Çetin, Ali Akkuş ve Gökçe Fırat Çulhanoğlu ile avukatları hazır bulundu.
Mahkeme heyeti, duruşmanın başında dosyaya yeni gelen bilgi ve belgeleri okudu. Gazeteci Yetkin Yıldız hakkında beyanda bulunan iki tanığın duruşmaya gelmediği açıklandı.
Duruşmada tanık olarak Yusuf Ahmet Kaymak dinlendi. Ardından söz alan yargılanan gazeteciler, haklarında uygulanan ayda bir en yakın karakola imza vermek şeklindeki adli kontrol hükmünün kaldırılmasını talep etti.
Yeniden başlayan yargılamanın ilk duruşmasında savunma yapmayan Gökçe Fırat Çulhaoğlu, savunmasını yaptı. Çulhaoğlu, yazılı savunmasını mahkeme heyetine verdi.
Çulhaoğlu, “Ben bu örgütle hep savaştım. Bu yüzden bu örgütün hiçbir zaman üyesi olmadım. Yardım ya da destekte de bulunmadım. Bu yüzden bozma ilamına katılmıyorum. Beraatimi talep ediyorum” dedi.
Avukatlarda müvekkilleri hakkında uygulanan imza şeklindeki adli kontrol hükmünün kaldırılmasını istedi.
Atilla Taş’ın avukatı Sevgi Kalan yaptığı savunmada, Avrupa İnsan Hakları Mahkemesi’nin (İHAM) müvekkili hakkında verdiği ihlal kararını hatırlattı. Avukat Kalan, Atilla Taş’ın dosyasının ayrılarak, hakkında beraat kararı verilmesini istedi.
Duruşmaya kısa bir ara veren mahkeme heyeti, Atilla Taş’ın avukatı Sevgi Kalan’ın taleplerini AİHM kararı dosyaya ulaştıktan sonra değerlendireceğine karar verdi. Mahkeme heyeti, yargılanan gazeteciler hakkında var olan ayda bir en yakın karakola imza vermek şeklindeki adli kontrol hükmünü kaldırdı.
Duruşma, 26 Ekim 2021 tarihine, saat 09:50’ye ertelendi.
Covid-19 pandemisi kapsamında adliye girişinde avukat ve yurttaşların giriş ve çıkışları bariyerlerle ayrılmıştı. Adliyeye girişler HES kodu sorgulanıp, ateş ölçümü ve X-Ray cihazından geçirilerek yapıldı. Duruşma salonunun bulunduğu kat bariyerlerle kapatılmıştı. Mahkeme başkanının talimatı üzerine 3 gazeteci duruşmaya alındı.
Mahkeme Salonu Koşulları
Duruşmanın görüldüğü salon ufak bir salondu. Pandemi önlemleri kapsamında duruşmaya salonunda uyarı yazıları yer aldı.
Duruşmayı P24 ve TGS izledi.
Duruşma yapıldığı sırada, altı yıl önce odasında rehin alınarak öldürülen İstanbul Cumhuriyet Savcısı Mehmet Selim Kiraz için anma töreni düzenlendi. Anmada yapılan konuşmalar ve çalınan İstiklal Marşı sesi duruşma salonuna geliyordu. İstiklal Marşı çalındığı sırada mahkeme heyeti, yargılanan gazeteciler ve avukatlar ile izleyicilerde saygı duruşunda bulundu.
Yargıtay’ın bozma kararının ardından yeniden başlayan yargılamanın ilk duruşması, daha önce belirlenen saatinde başladı.
Hakkındaki yargılamanın yeniden başladığı gazeteciler Ahmet Memiş, Cemal Azmi Kalyoncu, Gökçe Fırat Çulhaoğlu, Ünal Tanık, Yakup Çetin, Yetkin Yıldız, Atila Taş ve Ali Akkuş; duruşmaya avukatları ile birlikte katıldı.
Duruşma, gazeteciler hakkında verilen hapis cezası kararına ilişkin Yargıtay’ın bozma kararının okunması ile başladı.
Duruşma savcısı, Yargıtay’ın bozma kararına uyulmasını talep etti.
Mahkeme heyeti verdiği ara kararda, gazeteciler hakkında verilen bozma kararına uyulmasına karar verdi.
Mahkeme heyeti, kapatılan Zaman Gazetesi’nin eski yazarlarından Hüseyin Gülerce’nin gazetecilerle aleyhindeki tanık beyanının dosyaya eklendiğini açıkladı.
Gazeteciler, ara kararın ardından yeniden yargılama kapsamındaki ilk savunmalarını yaptı.
Ünal Tanık, iddianame kapsamında örgüt üyeliği ile suçlandığını ifade ederek, suçlamanın gerçeği yansıtmadığını kaydetti. Tanık, “Fuat Avni ile ilgili birçok haber yapıldı. Bu haberleri bir tek biz yapmadık. Hürriyet, Milliyet, Sözcü gibi gazeteler de bu haberleri yaptı. Suç ise bu gazetelere ya da çalışanlarına da dava açılmalıydı. Ben beraatımı istiyorum” dedi.
Ahmet Memiş, “Fuat Avni’nin açıklamaları haber niteliği taşıyordu. Haber niteliği varsa haber yapılır. Fuat Avni tweetleri suç ise Türkiye’de ki tüm gazeteciler hakkında soruşturma açılmalı, gazeteler ve TV’ler kapatılmalı. Fuat Avni’nin tweetlerini bunlarda haber yaptı. Bu örgütle ile hiçbir bağım yok. Bank Asya’ya da para yatırmadım. Gazetecilik yaptım ben” diye konuştu.
Yetkin Yıldız, dava kapsamında yaklaşık olarak dört yıl tutuklu kaldığını ifade ederek, “Dört yılın sonunda adalet yüzümüze güldü ve buradayız. Ben sadece işimin ekmeğimin derdindeyim. Fuat Avni haberleri suç mudur? Sadece biz dört gazeteci için suç. Habertürk, Hürriyet, Posta da buna dair haberler yaptı. Adalet mekanizması, var olan çifte standarda son vermeli artık” dedi.
Cemal Azmi Kalyoncu, “Ben gazetecilik yaptım sadece” diyerek, 14-15 yaşlarından bu yana gazetecilik yaptığını belirtti. Kalyoncu, beraatini talep etti.
Ali Akkuş, çalıştığı tüm kurumlarda gazetecilik ve haberciliği savunduğunu ifade ederek, kapatılan Zaman Gazetesi’nde çalıştığı süre boyunca da gazetenin genel yayın yönetmeni Ekrem Dumanlı ile sık sık tartıştığını ve bu yüzden de pozisyonunun sürekli düşürüldüğünü söyledi. Akkuş, FETÖ ile hiçbir bağlantısının olmadığını söyledi.
Gökçe Fırat Çulhaoğlu, savunmasında Hüseyin Gülerce’nin hakkında verdiği tanık beyanlarına atıfta bulunarak, “Hüseyin Gülerce, bu insan Zaman Gazetesi’nde çalıştı. Benim için kripto diyor. Kriptoyu biliyorsa, yönetmiş bu ekibi. Tipik bir komplocu mantık” dedi.
Atilla Taş, “Sayın Cumhurbaşkanının avukatları bu noktada çok iyi. Bir hakaret varsa ertesi gün ya soruşturma açılır ya da tutuklanırsınız. Ben daha önce yargılandım ve beraat ettim. Suçlamayı kabul etmiyorum. Biz düzmece bir iddianame ile ikinci defa tutuklandık. Bir utanç yargı açısından. Biz duvara anlatsaydık bunları, duvar beraat ederdi. Biz yorulduk, biz suçsuzuz. Beraatımı istiyorum. Biz artık adalete inanmak istiyoruz, devletten soğumak istemiyoruz” diye konuştu.
Yakup Çetin ise savunmasını, yargılamanın bir sondaki duruşmasında yapmayı talep etti.
Tüm gazeteciler haklarında uygulanan adli kontrol tedbirlerinin kaldırılmasını istedi.
Gazetecilerin ardından söz alan avukatlar da müvekkillerinin suçsuz olduğunu belirterek, haklarındaki adli kontrol kararlarının kaldırılmasını istedi.
Duruşma savcısı, dosyadaki eksik hususların giderilmesini talep etti.
Mahkeme heyeti, duruşmaya kısa bir ara verdi.
Mahkeme, gazetecilerin haklarındaki adli kontrol tedbirlerinin kaldırılması yönündeki taleplerini reddetti.
Ayrıca, Atilla Taş için “Cumhurbaşkanına Hakaret” ve “Türk Milletini, Türkiye Cumhuriyeti Devletini, Türkiye Büyük Millet Meclisini, Türkiye Cumhuriyeti Hükümetini ve Devletin yargı organlarını alenen aşağılama” suçlamaları yönünden Adalet Bakanlığı’ndan izin istenmesine karar verdi.
Yeniden başlayan yargılamanın, 31 Mart 2021 tarihinde görülecek ikinci duruşma ile devam etmesine karar verildi.
Koronavirüs karşısında alınan önlemler kapsamında, adliyeye; tek sıra halinde girilebildi. Bu düzen, bariyerlerle sağlandı. Ateş ölçümü ve X-Ray taraması yapıldı.
Adliye içinde duruşma salonunun bulunduğu kat, bariyerlerle kapatılmıştı.
Mahkeme Salonu Koşulları
Duruşma, küçük bir mahkeme salonunda görüldü. Duruşma salonunda, koronavirüs pandemisi karşısında alınan önlemlerin yazılı olduğu uyarı yazıları asılıydı.
Mahkeme başkanı, sadece üç gazetecinin duruşma salonuna girmesine izin verdi.
Duruşmayı Bağımsız Gazetecilik Platformu (P24), Disk Basın-İş, Medya ve Hukuk Çalışmaları Derneği (MLSA) gözlemcileri takip etti.
Mahkeme heyetinin, gazetecilere yaklaşımı kibardı. Gazetecilere sık sık sorular yöneltildi.
Mahkeme heyeti, duruşma öncesinde; koronavirüs pandemisi nedeniyle gazetecileri duruşmaya almayacağını özel güvenlik görevlilerine iletse de avukatların heyet ile görüşmesi ardından üç gazetecinin duruşmayı izlemesine izin verildi.
Heyet, koronavirüs pandemisi nedeniyle yargılanan gazetecilerin yan yana oturmasına izin vermedi. Bu nedenle gazetecilerden bazıları, duruşmaya; izleyici sıralarından katıldı.
"Media Structure" Trial (Retrial) 2. Standing (Minutes of the Hearing)
The Republic of Turkey held the structure known as the Fethullah Gülen Congregation responsible for the military coup attempt of 15 July 2016. The National Security Council determined on 20 July 2016 that the military coup attempt “was initiated by FETÖ via its members within the Turkish Armed Forces.”
The structure, which was stated to have secretly organised within government agencies for years, was first described as a “terrorist organisation” by a court in 2014, and later in the recommendations of the National Security Council of 27 May 2016. The National Security Council, which formerly described the structure as an “illegal parallel structure”, named it the “Fethullah Terrorist Organisation and Parallel State Structure – FETÖ-PDY” in its July memorandum.
Following the attempted coup, investigations and trials were launched, and orders for arrest and detention were issued for many individuals who were claimed to be “affiliated” with this structure. As part of these investigations, a large number of journalists and writers were placed in custody and/or detained in many provinces of Turkey due to allegations of “membership of Fethullah Terrorist Organisation (FETÖ)” and “knowingly or willingly aiding the organisation despite not being a member of FETÖ”. Investigations and prosecutions were carried out during the State of Emergency (OHAL) declared soon after the attempted coup.
Zaman newspaper, Samanyolu TV, Cihan News Agency and many other newspapers, television and radio channels and internet news portals were shut down on the similar allegations by Statutory Decrees (KHK) that were put into effect without the parliament’s approval.
In this context, Terrorism and Organised Crime Investigation Bureau of the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office of Istanbul launched an investigation against 89 journalists and media workers on allegations of “membership of FETÖ/PDY”. The names of people who were placed in custody and the details of the investigation were communicated through the public broadcaster Anadolu Agency, and published on the website of Sabah newspaper.
Although many journalists were detained under the same investigation in July 2016, they stood trial based on different indictments. For example, Mümtazer Türköne, Şahin Alpay, Ali Bulaç and many other journalists stood trial as part of the “Zaman Newspaper Court Case”, whereas Nazlı Ilıcak, Ahmet Altan, Mehmet Altan, Bülent Keneş, Mehmet Kamış and many other journalists were tried within the case publicly known as the “Subliminal Coup Messages Court Case”.
Ahmet Memiş, the former news coordinator of the Haberdar internet news portal, was one of the people under investigation.
He was placed in custody on charges of “membership of an armed terrorist organisation” on 23 July 2016. He was taken to the Gayrettepe Public Security Branch Office of the Istanbul Directorate of Security. He was referred to the court following the procedures at the security directorate on 25 July 2016.
Memiş was detained on the charge of “membership of an armed terrorist organisation” following the questioning at the court on 25 July 2016. He was taken to the Silivri Closed High Security Prison.
He spent approximately six months in prison awaiting the indictment to be completed. The indictment concerning 29 people, 27 of whom were journalists, including Memiş was completed on 16 January 2017.
The indictment concerning 29 people, 27 of whom were journalists, including Ahmet Memiş, the former news coordinator of the Haberdar internet news portal, was completed by the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office of Istanbul on 16 January 2017. The indictment consisted of 196 pages.
112 pages of the indictment listed allegations against the “Fethullah Terrorist Organisation / Parallel State Structure (FETÖ-PDY)”. This part was identical with the texts in indictments prepared for similar cases.
The allegations against Memiş started on page 111 of the indictment. This part of the indictment asserted that Rota News and Haberdar websites where Memiş worked at were “news websites that changed public perception on behalf of FETÖ”.
Memiş’s social media output that was listed in the indictment as follows: “Rotahaber drops a bombshell. @fuatavni, whose every piece sets the agenda is now on Rotahaber”.
The Twitter account named “Fuat Avni” featured heavily on the agenda between February 2014 and July 2016 with its outputs regarding the government, the judiciary and law enforcement at a time when the Justice and Development Party and the “Fetullah Gülen congregation” diverged. The Twitter account was blocked by a court order. However, other accounts were registered under various names. Many people were put on trial on allegations that they were the administrators of the account.
The indictment asserted that some journalists including Memiş “were jointly using this account”. It was asserted that some articles published in Rota News, where Memiş worked, were written by “Fuat Avni”.
It was asserted that the article under the headline “All Projects On Go Just Before [They Are] Out” dated 29 March 2014 “presented the National Intelligence Organisation and Hakan Fidan, the undersecretary of the National Intelligence Organisation as potential targets”. It was stated that following the publication of the article, the Office of the Legal Counsellor of the National Intelligence Organisation had filed a criminal complaint, and the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office of Ankara had launched an investigation.
It was stated that in line with the investigation, the management of Rota News was asked who the user “Fuat Avni” was, however, it was stated that “there were no personal identification details available”. The indictment asserted that “the person was concealed by not revealing the information”.
The indictment provided information regarding the computer and telephone records obtained from the raid on Memiş’s home, however the results of the evaluation were not provided in the indictment.
Further sections of the indictment provided information regarding Memiş’s testimonies at the security directorate and the prosecutor’s office. Memiş stated in his testimony that he had not prepared any news reports concerning the social media account called “Fuat Avni”, and that he denied the charges.
It was asserted that Memiş “had introduced and shared the posts of the account called “Fuat Avni” through Rota News and Haberdar website to the public, and had adopted the purpose of disseminating the illegal statements of the organisation to the public”.
The indictment charged Memiş with “membership of an armed organisation” in accordance with Article 314/2 of the Turkish Penal Code. The prosecution demanded that Memiş be sentenced to imprisonment of between five years and 10 years. It was also demanded that Memiş “be deprived of the enjoyment of certain rights” in accordance with Article 53 of the Turkish Penal Code.
The trial involving 29 people, 27 of whom were journalists including Ahmet Memiş, the former news coordinator of the Haberdar internet news website, as defendants commenced with the first hearing at the 25th High Criminal Court of Istanbul on 27-31 March 2017.
Attorney Ali Deniz Ceylan stated that the president of the court at the hearing had ruled for the detention of Gökçe Fırat Çulhaoğlu, Atilla Taş, Murat Aksoy and Mutlu Çölgeçen while he served as a judge at the 1st Criminal Court of Peace of Istanbul.
Stating that a judge who had served during the investigation process cannot serve during the trial process under the current law, attorney Ceylan demanded the president of the court’s recusal. The demand was rejected. Ceylan then demanded a judicial disqualification. The panel of judges rejected the demand for judicial disqualification on the grounds of it being “non-procedural”.
At the first hearing, the president of the court requested the defensive statements of the defendants before the indictment was read.
Attorney Gülşah Kaya said: “I want the indictment to be read”. The president of the court interrupted while Kaya was speaking. Upon this, Kaya said: “A hearing does not proceed with this sort of back and forth exchange. I make a demand, and you make a decision. You at least have the responsibility to summarise the indictment”. However, the president of the court did not respond to the demands.
The indictment was not read. However, the statement “the indictment was read” was written in the court minutes. Attorney Ömer Kavili demanded “Let the minutes reflect that this is a false statement”. The panel of judges did not respond. Spectators applauded Kavili. In response to applause, the president of the court reacted by saying: “Who do you think you’re applauding?” Following the identification of the defendants, Memiş made his defensive statements.
Memiş began his defensive statement by asking whether it was a crime “to be a news coordinator”. He stated that he was being charged with sharing the tweet “’Fuat Avni’ will be on Rota News’ and not providing identification details of Fuat Avni”. Memiş stated that he was being charged with “introducing Fuat Avni to the public”. He stated, however, that before his social media output, “Fuat Avni had 307,000 followers”.
Memiş stated that “he could not share information which he did not possess” regarding Fuat Avni’s identity. He stated that he did not have an account with Bank Asya, but he was given a credit card many years ago, which he did not use.
Memiş replied to the president of the court’s question “Do you have a code name” by saying “My code name is ‘a journalist’”.
The prosecutor for the hearing demanded that 13 journalists be released pending trial at the last hearing of the trial on 31 March 2017. The court added eight more journalists including Ahmet Memiş to the 13 people to be released pending trial. The court prohibited the journalists from travelling abroad.
A series of developments took place on 31 March 2017 when the ruling was declared and the early hours of the following day.
Cem Küçük who wrote columns for newspapers known to have adopted a pro-government publishing policy stated the following in his social media account: “Every prosecutor and judge will be discharged from duty who ordered the release of apparent FETÖ members. This is the state’s definitive judgment. Everybody should know it.” He also stated the following: “The Ministry of Justice and the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors started to take action. God willing, the traitors will not be set free.”
The prosecutor for the hearing objected to the release of eight journalists, including Ahmet Memiş, whose release the prosecutor’s office had not demanded at the hearing the same day, 31 March 2017.
The prosecutor for the hearing asserted in the objection regarding the release of the eight journalists whose release had not been demanded by the prosecution that “evidence against the defendants was not collected fully” and “the release order was nonprocedural and illegal”.
The prosecutor’s demand was processed on the same day by the 26th High Criminal Court of Istanbul, upper court of the 27th High Criminal Court of Istanbul, which issued the release order. Despite the release order, eight journalists, including Memiş, were not released from prison and were remanded in custody again.
On the other hand, another investigation was launched on the same day concerning 13 journalists whose release the prosecutor for the hearing had demanded and the court had ruled accordingly. The journalists were charged with “attempting a coup” and “membership of an armed terrorist organisation”. They were remanded after 14 days on charges of “attempting to destroy the constitutional order” and “attempting to destroy the Government of the Republic of Turkey”. A second indictment concerning the journalists was prepared. The journalists were charged with “attempting to destroy the constitutional order by means of coercion and violence” and “attempting to destroy the Government of the Republic of Turkey by means of coercion and violence”. The prosecution demanded that the journalists be sentenced to two aggravated life sentences.
Thus, none of the journalists for whom release orders were issued were released on 31 March 2017.
The president and two members of the panel of judges who issued release orders for 21 journalists at the first hearing of the trial were discharged from duty by the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors. Cem Küçük, who wrote columns for newspapers known to have adopted a pro-government publishing policy had stated the following in his social media account: “Every prosecutor and judge will be discharged from duty who ordered the release of apparent FETÖ members.
Following these incidents, the second hearing of the trial took place on 27 April 2017. At this hearing, the court heard witnesses testify about the journalists.
The third hearing of the trial took place on 6 July 2017. The panel of judges rejected in its interim decision the demands of remanded journalists and their attorneys to be released at the end of the hearing.
The second indictment concerning the 13 journalists whose release was ordered at the first hearing of the trial, but were detained again as part of a new investigation, was presented to the court on 5 June 2017.
The first hearing of the trial for the second indictment took place on 16 August 2017. The court ordered the trial of the journalists to proceed with the merging of the two indictments.
The first hearing of the trial that continued after the two indictments were merged took place on 24-25 October 2017. The panel of judges were observed to have changed for the third time at this hearing of the trial. The hearing began with the president of the court reading the documents received by the court.
The second hearing of the trial with the merged indictments took place on 3-4 December 2017. Six witnesses were heard at the hearing. The court ruled all defendants should remain in custody.
The third hearing of the trial took place on 8 February 2018. The prosecutor presented the opinion of the prosecution as to the accusations at this hearing. The opinion of the prosecution demanded that Memiş be sentenced on the charge of “membership of an armed terrorist organisation”.
Memiş made his defensive statement against the opinion of the prosecution. Memiş stated that the opinion of the prosecution did not contain any elements to that could be defended against. He stated the following:
“I have been a journalist for 25 years. I have worked for pro-AKP websites for 20 years. I have been a member of the AKP for 20 years. I cast my first vote for Recep Tayyip Erdoğan when he ran as a candidate for the Mayor of Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality. I have never worked for the media institutions which were claimed to be affiliated with the organisation. I worked at Haberdar due to financial reasons. They say Fuat Avni tweeted repeatedly while Said Sefa was on Halk TV’s broadcast. I cannot comprehend this.”
Memiş stated that Fethullah Gülen had filed a lawsuit against him over a news report published on Rota News. He then asked, “Would the leader of an organisation file a suit against a member of the organisation?”
The attorneys objected to the sentence demanded despite some evidence being in the favour of the journalists. Attorneys also stated that there was no concrete evidence for the charge of “membership of a terrorist organisation”.
The final hearing of the trial took place on 7-8 March 2018. Taking into account the manner in which the crime was committed and the intensity of criminal intent, the panel of judges ruled that Memiş be sentenced to imprisonment of seven years and six months on the charge of “membership of an armed terrorist organisation”. The court also ruled that Memiş should remain in custody.
The Appeals Process
Ahmet Memiş’s attorneys launched an appeal against the prison sentence at the court of appeals.
The appeals process was carried out by the 2nd Penal Chamber of the Istanbul Circuit Courts of Appeals. The Chamber delivered its ruling on 22 October 2018.
The Chamber rejected the appeal in substance. The ruling found that the ruling of the local court was lawful according to methods and procedures. It was asserted that “the evidence in the file was sufficient to establish the crime”.
The Court of Cassation Process
Ahmet Memiş’s attorneys appealed against the ruling approved by the court of appeals before the Court of Cassation.
In its written opinion, the Chief Public Prosecutor of the Court of Cassation demanded the dismissal of the appeal. The Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office demanded the approval of the sentences of the journalists on the grounds that the trial had been carried out lawfully.
The appeals process was carried out by the 16th Penal Chamber of the Court of Cassation. The attorneys demanded that the appeals process be carried out by means of hearings. However, their demands were rejected. The Chamber delivered its ruling on 16 March 2020.
The Chamber overturned Memiş’s imprisonment sentence on the charge of “membership of an armed terrorist organisation”. The ruling of the Court of Cassation stated that the local court “erred in the classification of the offence”. It was stated that “the acts of the journalists were not adequate to establish them as members of the organisation”. The ruling stated that the journalists should have been prosecuted on the charges of “aiding the armed terrorist organisation” instead of “membership of an armed terrorist organisation”.
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