Ali Orhan was born in Rize in 1956.
He started out as a journalist as a columnist at Aziziye Gazetesi published locally in Erzurum in 1976. He worked as Samsun correspondent for Milliyet newspaper in 1983. He worked as Samsun representative of public broadcaster TRT.
Later, Orhan founded a local TV station in Samsun. However, he had to shut down the TV channel later due to economic reasons.
Orhan worked at Atılım, Ekspress, Manavgat Sahil, Körfez, Kent, Antalya Gündem, 07 TV and Kanal V television channels broadcasted locally in Antalya starting from 1997.
Orhan was the executive editor of the now-closed Antalya Gazetesi, the first local newspaper of Antalya.
The newspaper was shut down by a statutory decree issued as part of the State of Emergency rule declared following the military coup attempt on 15 July 2016. During the state of emergency period, the government shut down many media outlets by statutory decrees that were put into effect without the parliament’s approval.
An investigation was launched concerning Orhan over the complaint of the owner of Antalya Express newspaper and some other reports. These reports and complaints included allegations concerning Antalya Gazetesi, where Yavaşlar and journalists Ali Orhan previously had worked and was later shut down. Orhan was not detained as part of the investigation.
Orhan was charged with “consecutively, knowingly and willingly aiding an armed terrorist organisation despite not being a part of its hierarchical structure” by the indictment dated 24 October 2018. The prosecution demanded that Orhan be sentenced to imprisonment of between 10 years, two months, 15 days and 26 years and three months.
The court ruled at the hearing held on 24 October 2019 that the case file concerning Orhan be merged with the main case file in which eight journalists in Antalya and others who were not journalists were being tried on allegations of “membership of an armed terrorist organisation”.
The trial concerning Orhan is currently underway. Orhan is standing trial without remand.
An anonymous notice was sent to the Prime Ministry Communication Centre (BİMER) on 19 April 2017 concerning Ali Orhan, editor-in-chief now-closed Antalya Gazetesi and Hasan Yavaşlar, the editor-in-chief of the newspaper.
The notification asserted that Orhan and Yavaşlar “had connections with the FETO/PDY terrorist organisation”.
The Prime Ministry Communication Centre (BİMER) was a public relations system that used information and communication technologies. It was a website where citizens could directly convey their requests, reports and complaints to the relevant authority, as well as using their rights under the Right to Information Act and Law on the Right to Petition.
BIMER was shut down due to the change in the governmental system of Turkey with the Constitutional Amendment in 2017. With this change, the parliamentary system was replaced by a presidential system named the “Presidential Government System” by the ruling party. The change took effect in July 2018. BIMER was replaced with the Presidential Communication Centre (CİMER).
Meanwhile H.Ö, owner of the Antalya Express newspaper, filed a complaint on 15 May 2017 concerning Orhan and Yavaşlar at the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office of Antalya.
H.Ö. asserted in the statement he gave to the prosecutor’s office on 15 May 2018 that “Antalya Gazetesi, where Yavaşlar and Orhan had worked printed pages that were prepared at the now-closed Zaman newspaper”. H.Ö. said: “They conducted an interview with N.A, FETO’s Antalya strongbox and one of the leading figures, and they published it in the newspaper”.
Stating that investigations had commenced and cases were filed on the people whom he mentioned in his complaint and statement, H.Ö said: “However, no procedures were launched to my knowledge concerning these two journalists. That’s why I decided to file a criminal complaint.”
Another individual, whose full personal information and address were not identified, also filed a criminal complaint concerning Orhan and Yavaşlar with similar allegations.
Upon all these allegations, reports and complaints, The Office for the Investigation of Crimes Against the Constitutional Order of the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office of Antalya launched an investigation on Ali Orhan and Hasan Yavaşlar.
Ali Orhan and Hasan Yavaşlar were not detained as part of the investigation. Instead, they were called to the security directorate to give their statements.
Ali Orhan gave his statement at the Office of Counter-Terrorism Branch of the Antalya Security Directorate on 13 September 2018. He said: “I have no relations with or interest in the terrorist organisation whatsoever. I am a social democrat; I am against all [religious] congregations”.
Against the allegations of H.Ö., who filed a criminal complaint against him, Orhan stated that they had worked together for a while and he was laid off by the newspaper after a while, filed a lawsuit and won. He said: “I am a journalist and a television broadcaster. I did not support the Fetullah Terrorist Organisation at any point of my life. I did not write any article or air a broadcast in their favour. On the contrary, I spoke against them in all of my programmes”.
Orhan was also asked questions about the social media outputs he made during the corruption and bribery operation period, publicly known as the 17-25 December operation, carried out by the end of 2013 against many people including politicians and their relatives.
In the statement he gave at the security directorate, Orhan said: “I might have adopted a position in my social media outputs that ruling parties should change through democracy. I believe that the worst democratic administration is still better than an anti-democratic one.”
The indictment concerning Ali Orhan and Hasan Yavaşlar was completed on 24 October 2018.
The indictment concerning Ali Orhan, the executive editor of the now-closed Antalya Gazetesi and Hasan Yavaşlar, editor-in-chief of the newspaper was completed by the Office for the Investigation of Crimes Against the Constitutional Order of the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office of Antalya on 24 October 2018.
The introduction of the indictment included a section titled “Explanation Regarding the FETO/PDY Organisation”. This section stated that “the mentioned organisation was ruled to be an armed terrorist organisation by the 16th Penal Chamber of the Court of Cassation in its rulings dated 24 April 2017 and 14 July 2017.
The indictment included reports and criminal complaints against Ali Orhan. The defensive statements Orhan gave at the security directorate were cited in full-text.
The indictment stated that the Office of Cyber Crimes of the Antalya Security Directorate had examined Ali Orhan’s social media outputs on his Facebook account. It was asserted that in his outputs in 2013, Orhan “shared outputs which implied that the ruling government’s term was over, and the Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan would have to leave office”.
The indictment charged Ali Orhan with “knowingly and willingly aiding the armed organisation despite not being a part of its hierarchical structure” in accordance with Article 220/7 and Article 314/2 of the Turkish Penal Code and Article 5 of the Law on Anti-Terrorism. The prosecution demanded that Orhan be sentenced to imprisonment of between seven years and six months and 15 years. However, the indictment asserted that “the crime had been committed consecutively”. It was thus demanded that Orhan’s sentence be increased by between a quarter and three quarters in accordance with Article 43 of the Turkish Penal Code.
The prosecution demanded that Ali Orhan be sentenced to imprisonment of between 10 years, two months and 15 days and 26 years and three months.
The prosecution demanded the same prison sentence on the same charges for journalist Hasan Yavaşlar.
It was also demanded that the journalists “be deprived of the enjoyment of certain rights” in accordance with Article 53 of the Turkish Penal Code.
The indictment concerning Ali Orhan and Hasan Yavaşlar was accepted by the 8th High Criminal Court of Antalya on 12 November 2018. The court ruled that a written inquiry be sent to the Antalya Security Directorate regarding whether or not there were any records indicating that Ali Orhan and Hasan Yavaşlar had used the ByLock application that had been found in many court rulings to be “a communication tool allegedly used by FETO members”.
The trial concerning Ali Orhan, the executive editor of the now-closed Antalya Gazetesi and Hasan Yavaşlar, the editor-in-chief of the newspaper commenced with the first hearing at the 8th High Criminal Court of Antalya on 18 June 2019.
After the indictment was accepted, the court announced that the inquiry regarding whether or not there were any records indicating that the journalists had used the ByLock application was answered. Antalya Security Directorate stated that they had not found any records of ByLock data concerning the journalists.
Journalists Ali Orhan and Hasan Yavaşlar attended the hearing with their attorney Halil Aksoy.
The publisher of Antalya Express newspaper with the initials H.Ö., who filed the report concerning the journalists, was present in the courtroom as a witness.
Orhan stated that they had aa disagreement with H.Ö. on hiring employees, and had filed a lawsuit against him. Orhan said: “He filed groundless complaints against us for this reason. It is out of question that I should have aided the armed terrorist organisation”.
The owner of Antalya Express newspaper H.Ö., who filed the complaint against the journalists, continued his allegations in his testimony as a witness. He asserted that Antalya Gazetesi, for which Ali Orhan and Hasan Yavaşlar had worked for a period, had become “FETO’s asset”. H.Ö. stated that Antalya Gazetesi was shut down following the military coup attempt on 15 July 2016. H.Ö. stated the following:
“I have only unconfirmed information concerning the defendants’ affiliation with FETO. Apart from that, I did not see or witness anything. But I have unconfirmed information. However, I cannot disclose it, since I cannot document this information.”
The prosecutor for the hearing demanded that an inquiry be sent to the Office of Press Crimes of the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office of Antalya to receive a copy of the interview conducted with a businessperson with the initials N.A., who was mentioned in the reports and complaints.
Ali Orhan’s and Hasan Yavaşlar’s attorney Halil Aksoy reminded the court that witness H.Ö., himself stated that he did not have concrete evidence against the journalists. Aksoy stated the following: “My clients are journalists. They wrote articles to the detriment of the organisation. By definition of their profession, they conducted interviews with people from all walks of life.” Aksoy demanded Yavaşlar’s and Orhan’s release.
The court ruled that the Antalya Security Directorate be consulted on matters such as the person who bought Antalya Gazetesi, where the journalists previously worked, from whom and on which date, and whether or not it was shut down following the military coup attempt on 15 July 2016.
The second hearing of the trial took place on 24 October 2019. The panel of judges had not changed at this hearing.
One of the people mentioned in the complaints and reports was heard as a witness at the hearing. Stating “the Congregation had to promote itself to the people,” the witness made allegations regarding Antalya Gazetesi, for which Yavaşlar and Orhan worked for a period. The witness stated the following:
“Imaginary interviews were being conducted and scenes were staged. For example, interviews were pretended to be conducted with a publicly well-known person, and the newspaper was published this way. Opinions of various political parties were also taken.”
The prosecutor for the hearing asked whether or not a money transaction was carried out in exchange for the “bespoke news” that the witness mentioned. The witness stated the following: “I presume that the bespoke news items were prepared in exchange for money. I think they were done through promises that advertising space would be brought. The congregation sometimes occupied 4-5 pages of the newspaper. It sometimes even occupied the entire newspaper.”
The owner of Akdeniz Gazetesi, for which Yavaşlar and Orhan previously had worked, was also heard as a witness at the hearing. The witness said, “We never published bespoke news or interviews on behalf of the congregation. We did not offer pages to the congregation.”
The court detected that H.Ö., who filed the criminal complaint against the journalists, was recording the hearing at the hearing room. The panel of judges ruled that law enforcement officers be informed to detain H.Ö. H.Ö. was detained by police at the hearing room, and was referred to the prosecutor’s office.
The prosecutor for the hearing demanded that this case file be merged with the case file concerning the journalists working in Antalya along with people who were not journalists who were being tried on the charge of “membership of an armed terrorist organisation”.
The court found that the main trial concerning Antalya Gazetesi, where Orhan and Yavaşlar had previously worked, was underway at the 2nd High Criminal Court of Antalya. The court ruled that the case file concerning Orhan and Yavaşlar be merged with the main case file underway in Antalya, and closed the case file. The ruling was made unanimously.
Although the merging of the cases was ruled on 24 October 2019, the case file was sent to the 2nd High Criminal Court of Antalya on 23 December 2019.
The ninth hearing of the trial in Antalya in which eight journalists and others who were not journalists were being tried at the 2nd High Criminal Court of Antalya was completed.
The tenth hearing of the trial took place on 7 February 2020 after the ruling concerning the merging of the files. Ali Orhan and Hasan Yavaşlar attended the hearing.
The court ruled that the prohibition on travelling abroad be lifted on the condition that the defendants with travel prohibitions present documents proving that there are educational, medical or work-related reasons requiring them to travel abroad.
The court ruled that all defendants including the journalists be exempted from the hearings. The court ruled to lift mandatory attendance to the hearings.
The eleventh hearing of the trial was scheduled for 21 May 2020. However, due to the precautionary measures against the coronavirus pandemic, the hearing was postponed.
The twelfth hearing of the trial took place on 25 September 2020. The court ruled that the case file be sent to the prosecutor’s office for the opinion of the prosecution as to the accusations to be prepared.
The court set the date for the thirteenth hearing of the trial as 12 January 2021.
Mahkeme heyetinin yerini alması ile birlikte, duruşma önceki celsede belirlenen saatinde başladı. Duruşmada, yargılanan gazeteciler Cihat Ünal, Kenan Baş, Olgun Matur, Ömer Özdemir, Osman Yakut, Özkan Mayda, Ali Orhan, Hasan Yavaşlar ve Serhat Şeftali ile avukatları hazır bulundu.
Duruşmada ilk olarak duruşma savcısı esas hakkındaki mütalaasını mahkeme heyetine sundu.
Mütalaada yargılanan gazeteciler Olgun Matur, Özkan Mayda, Osman Yakut, Cihat Ünal, Kenan Baş, Ömer Özdemir ve Serhat Şeftali’nin “Terör Örgütüne Üye Olmak” suçundan cezalandırılması istendi. 7 Gazeteci için TMK 5 maddesinin uygulanarak cezanın yarı oranında arttırılması istendi.
Mütalaada, gazeteciler Ali Orhan ve Hasan Yavaşlar hakkında da beraat talep edildi.
Mütalaaya karşı söz alan gazetecilerin avukatları, savunma yapmak için süre talep etti.
Mahkeme heyeti, tarafların savunma için süre taleplerini kabul ederek, duruşmayı 4 Mayıs 2021 tarihine, saat 09:30’a bırakılmasına karar verdi.
Koronavirüs pandemisi karşısında alınan önlemler kapsamında, Antalya Adliyesine girişler sınırlandırıldı. Adliye girişinde bulunan görevliler adliye içerisinde resmi işi olmayan hiç kimseyi bina içerisine almadı. Binaya giren vatandaşların HES kodu incelendi.
Mahkeme Başkanı, kararı açıkladığı sırada yargılanan gazetecilere ve diğer sanıklara “Kendinizi savunacağınız bol bol süreniz olacak” demesi dikkat çekti.
Yargılamanın 12. duruşması, saatinde başladı. Mahkeme heyetinin değiştiği gözlendi.
Yargılanan gazeteciler Ömer Özdemir, Cihat Ünal, Özkan Mayda ve Hasan Yavaşlar, duruşmaya; avukatları ile birlikte katıldı. Diğer gazeteciler ise avukatları temsil etti.
Mahkeme Başkanı, Antalya Cumhuriyet Başsavcılığı’nın, bir telefon hattı üzerindeki Bylock programının Mayda tarafından kullanılmış olabileceğine ilişkin yazısının dosyaya eklendiğini açıkladı.
Mayda, dosyaya eklenen yeni belge karşısında; “Ben Bylock kullanmadım. Bylock tespit edildiği yazılı olan hattı benim kullanmadığımı, bu hattı arkadaşımın kullandığını ikinci celsede söylediğim için zaten, tahliye olmuştum” dedi. Arkadaşının tanık olarak dinlendiğini, hattı kendisinin kullandığını kabul ettiğini; kendisinin de yargılandığını ve ceza aldığını belirtti. Yeni belgeyi kabul etmedi.
Mayda’nın avukatı Münip Ermiş ise, Mayda’nın Temmuz ayında tutuklandığını, ByLock uygulamasına kullandığı yönündeki iddianın ise Eylül ayında kayda geçtiğini anımsattı. Buna rağmen, savcılığın; Bylock iddiası karşısında Mayda’nın savunmasını almadığını dile getirdi. Avukat Ermiş, Bylock uygulamasının yüklü olduğu iddiasıyla tutuklanan kişi yönünden delil mahiyetinde olan savcılık belgesinin Mayda yönünden delilmiş gibi gönderilmesinin de yanlış olduğunu dile getirdi.
Gazeteci Serhat Şeftali’nin avukatı Halil Istıl ise Şeftali’nin mal varlığı üzerindeki tedbirin kaldırılmasını talep etti.
Duruşma savcısı, yargılama dosyasının, esas hakkındaki mütalaanın hazırlanması için savcılığa iletilmesini talep etti.
Mahkeme, savcılıktan gelen ve bir telefon hattı üzerindeki Bylock programının Mayda tarafından kullanılmış olabileceğine ilişkin yazının, Mayda’nın işaret ettiği arkadaşının davasındaki yargılama dosyasına eklenmesine karar verdi.
Mahkeme, ayrıca; Serhat Şeftali’in mal varlığı üzerindeki tedbirin kaldırılmasına karar verdi.
Yargılama dosyasının, esas hakkındaki mütalaanın hazırlanması için savcılığa iletilmesine karar verildi.
Yargılamanın, 12 Ocak 2021 tarihinde görülecek 12. duruşma ile devam etmesine karar verildi.
Koronavirüs pandemisi karşısında alınan önlemler kapsamında, Antalya Adliyesi’ne girişler sınırlandırılmıştı. Adliye girişinde bulunan görevliler adliye içerisinde resmi işi olmayan hiçkimseyi bina içerisine almıyordu.
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