Ali Ünal

As a part of the operation launched against the Zaman Newspaper’s 47 contributors and managers, the columnist Ali Ünal was detained on Aug. 10, 2016, in his hometown Eşme, Uşak. Ünal was detained along with his brother, M. Ü., who is a teacher.

After five days in custody, the Uşak 2nd Criminal Court of Peace arrested Ünal on Aug. 15, 2016, on the allegations of “being a member of a terrorist organization”, “helping a terrorist organization” and “making propaganda for a terrorist organization.” The court sent Ünal to İzmir No.1 F type prison. Along with Ünal, his brother M.Ü was also arrested.

Ünal waited for his indictment for a year and one month. Elif İkiz, a prosecutor for the Terror and Organized Crime Bureau of the Uşak Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, issued the indictment on Sept. 28, 2017. The Uşak 2nd High Criminal Court accepted the indictment.

In the indictment, 17 articles and a television program were presented as evidence against Ünal. The indictment also showed the statements of witnesses and letters of denunciation as the basis of accusations. In the indictment, Ali Ünal was charged for “attempting to abolish the Constitution (TPC 309)”, “establishing or managing a terrorist organization (TPC 220/1)” and “being a member of a terrorist organization (TPC 220/2)” and recommended two times aggravated life sentence and up to 29.5 years in prison for Ünal.

The first hearing of the trial was held on Jan. 4, 2018. The last hearing was held on Nov. 14, 2018.

Twenty-six months after Ünal’s arrest, the court sentenced Ünal to 19 years and 6 months imprisonment for “establishing and managing an armed terrorist organization.”

The verdict was approved by the Court of Appeal and is now at the Court of Cassation.

Ali Ünal - Zaman Trial

Uşak Eşme District Gendarmerie Command’s patrolling soldiers detained Ünal at his father-in-law Şükrü Gürel’s house on Aug. 10, 2016. Ünal had 45,350 TL cash and a mobile phone on him and all of them were confiscated by authorities. But the confiscation procedure happened without a court ruling. The Uşak 1st Criminal Court of Peace approved the procedure only the next day. During the trial, more than once, Ünal requested the return of the 45,350 TL - the confiscated money - to his family, on the grounds that they were in need. But the court rejected the request every time.

Ünal’s brother Mustafa Ünal, who was a teacher, was also detained and jailed.

While he was waiting for the indictment against him in prison, Ali Ünal applied to the public prosecutor’s office and requested to benefit from effective remorse on Jan. 5, 2017. In his testimony at prosecutors’ office, Ünal told his life story, the movement (the movement of Fethullah Gülen’s followers, which was called Cemaat - or “the Congregation”) and how he met them. He talked about how he contacted those people. The prosecutor specifically asked if he knew any columnists and managers of the Zaman newspaper and Samanyolu TV.

But Ünal’s statements were not considered sufficient to benefit from effective remorse provisions. The Prosecutor’s Office based its rejection on the following reasons:

“To apply effective remorse provisions, the perpetrator accepting that he/she is a member of the organization and accepting that he/she is a member of the organization should provide the sufficient information for the organization to dissolve, to be deciphered or for the capture of its members. Only indicating the names of the members of the organization is not enough to be able to benefit from effective remorse provisions. (…) Regarding Ali Ünal’s statements about the people known to be members of the organization, as they are not conducive to assisting the investigation and prosecution of the organization, it is not possible for him to benefit from effective remorse provisions.”

Ünal’s indictment was issued when he had been in prison for a year and one month. Under the charges of “attempting to abolish the Constitution (TPC 309)”, “establishing or managing a terrorist organization (TPC 220/1)” and “being a member of a terrorist organization (TPC 220/2)”, the indictment recommended two times aggravated life sentence and up to 29.5 years imprisonment for Ünal.

The 299-page indictment was issued by Elif İkiz, a prosecutor for the Terror and Organized Crime Bureau of the Uşak Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, on Sept. 28, 2017, and was accepted by the Uşak 2nd High Criminal Court. In the indictment, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was listed as a “victim.”

In the indictment, the prosecutor spared a significant place for the definition of the terrorism and the night of 15th of July coup. Also, like other indictments relating to “FETÖ trials” (which are trials against people suspected of affiliation with Fethullah Gülen’s “Hizmet” movement, a “terrorist organization” identified by Turkish government as having orchestrated the 15th of July coup attempt), the indictment defined the foundation of “FETÖ”, its mission, method, strategy, hierarchical structure, intelligence network, financial structure and sources of revenue sources and cited long quotations from the books of Fethullah Gülen.

In the indictment, the following statements are included:

“‘The cruelty and destruction plan’ called ‘founding chaos strategy’ of Bernard Lewis, the English-born Zionist historian, has been implemented in the Turkish homeland for 200 years. Maybe it is our destiny. Unfortunately, in this difficult geography, there is no opportunity and luxury to have a moment without a betrayal or causality. (…) As a result of ‘the politicization of religion’ and ‘the religionization of politics’, religion based terrorist organizations have begun to occupy an important place in the world agenda.”

The indictment established the link between the organization and the journalist with the following statements:

“The Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ) has set up new propaganda devices in accordance with its purpose and strategy. While the organization was provoking the clashes in society, causing human rights violations and accelerating the propaganda, it also established radio, newspaper, magazine, television, video broadcasts and had intensified publications of scientific and magazine content on human rights principles. To make propaganda for their own organization, and contribute to the policies and interests of the external states in which it was a servant, the organization recruited journalists from almost every spectrum, including people who have been in a different line. Instead of spies, the organization conducted a widespread publication training programs with reporters to get information. The organization, especially carried out these programs by journalists, columnists and through television programs.”

In the first 211 pages of 299-page indictment, Ali Ünal’s name was not mentioned. About Ünal it stated:

“He [Ali Ünal] is a columnist for the Zaman newspaper, which is one of the important financial and propaganda tools for FETÖ. He was preparing English translations of books by Fethullah Gülen and had contacted him directly. He was a trusted manager of the organization for interpreting dreams, which is one of the rituals of the organization.”

Ünal was accused of “carrying out the media activities for the organization”, “misleading the public in accordance with the instructions received from Gülen”, “glorifying the organization with disinformational news and comments”, “defaming all the institutions and establishments against the organization” thus, “serving the purpose of the organization” with his books and articles in the Zaman newspaper.

The indictment stated:

“(Ali Ünal) was writing articles in favor of the organization’s interests, he attempted to defame the government’s measures that had been taken against the organization, criticized the government and [then] Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, accused the government with corruption by so-called religious interpretations, praised the organization’s coup attempt against the government, shared articles and comments to abolish the Constitution by establishing a new state, new social, economical, cultural and judicial system in which members of FETÖ/PDY would be the rulers, and would be formed on the ground of so-called religion which was fabricated by Fethullah Gülen by corrupting the traditional Islamist teaching.”

Ali Ünal was charged with his 17 articles published between 2011-2015 in the Zaman newspaper. These articles contained the following statements:

In the article titled “Ahir zaman ve depremler” (“Doomsday and the earthquakes”) dated Feb. 11, 2011:

“The underground is constantly mobile and therefore faults are broken, but not long before, new earthquakes occur on the same fault lines, which means that new faults were formed. (…) Because these disasters do not distinguish between cruel or not. So everyone should search the error in themselves, but not in others. Also, the disaster does not always come upon error. Sometimes it comes especially to some individuals for spiritual progress. Allah warns the believers who do not awaken their faults by these disasters, and reminds them of their lost values once again.”

In the article titled “Ustalık dönemiyle ilgili üç endişe” (“Three concerns on the master’s term”) dated Sept. 12, 2011:

“From the Prime Minister, our expectation is not to give ear to those who praise and appreciate him, but to those who point to the truth and critics in necessity by considering the love of the country and the nation, to open his mind and heart to opinion leaders who have no expectations for the worldly and themselves, always consult with the real judgement and prudence holders, to not expect praise and appreciation from his entourage, but always expect them to speak the truth.”

In the article titled “Başbuğ tutuklandı” (“Başbuğ is arrested”) dated Jan. 9, 2012:

“The real reason that led the 26th Chief of General Staff Başbuğ to be imprisoned was the Turkish Army’s (which “comes from the heart of the nation”) choice of position for itself in the history of Republic of Turkey. This position manifested itself most clearly in two points. (…) the fact that it was ruptured from its people, civilians, placing itself on a position that gives them direction, and lastly, the pride that was provided by this position.”

In the article titled “Başbuğ ve terör” (“Başbuğ and terror”) dated Jan. 17, 2012:

“Aiming to end the ruling party, a congregation or congregations, therefore trying to abolish the government, opening the gap between the government and the people, trying to disrupt the indivisible integrity of the nation, openly declaring that there is no luxury for army to not to fight against the congregations, incriminating millions of people and forming an entity in the Headquarters for this purpose is a terror crime.”

In the article titled “2012 yılı” (“The year of 2012) dated Jan. 23, 2012

“The year of 2012 and beyond, will be one of the most challenging tests for Turkey. There will be sweeps and purges. And the ones who can will continue so.”

In the article titled “Ceza suçun cinsindendir” (“The punishment comes in the form of the offense”) dated Jan. 31, 2012:

“We frequently needed to make constitutional and ‘judicial’ reforms because nothing we did in Turkey fit the fundamental and innate truths, and depended on ideological and political choices, times, conditions, interests and mostly imitation. While trying to do a new judicial reform nowadays, I hope that such an action will not be carried out …”

In the indictment that referred to a story described in the article titled “Bir tecrübe, bir rüya ile teneffüs” (“An experience, a dream and a breath”) dated Feb. 13, 2013, it was stated that “one of the features of terrorist Fethullah Gülen and the leaders of the organization is to give a mystical quality to the organization in order to ensure credibility to the ideology and its activities. In this article, suspect Ali Ünal served this purpose with his spiritual expressions.”

In the article titled “Adaletsizliğin aklanması” (“Laundering injustice”) dated May 22, 2012:

“Even though everything happened in the glare of publicity, the Police Department, the Special Courts and the Congregation which revealed the affirmative crimes, were blamed. If Turkey has made a certain distance from the Feb. 28, [1997,(known as the postmodern coup)] in the name of democracy, it was thanks to the brave prosecutors and judges working in the Special Authorized Courts, the work of the Police, the support of the government and the referendum on Sept. 12, 2010.”

In the article titled “Mesihi soluklar” (“Messiah breath”) dated June 18, 2012:

“The World is now only one, whole country. The center of this country and the epicenter of all events from today to tomorrow is Turkey. The Quran will once again find its original representation in Turkish. The meaning in the air of the Turkish Olympics is the breath of this representation.”

In the article titled “Batması ve kurtulması mukadder gemiler” (“Ships destined to sink or survive”) dated July 30, 2012:

“Turkey’s near future looks like there will be huge storms and floods. The ones who are destined to sink will gather in ships that are destined to sink, the ones who will survive will gather in the ships that will sail safely between the giant waves …”

In the article titled “Darbeler dönemi kapandı mı?” (“Does the era of coups ended”) dated Sept. 24, 2012:

“The verdicts of the Sledgehammer case were often criticized by those who have supported the coups and coup plotters, regardless of the legal aspect of the matter, for ideological and interest-based reasons. But there are those of us who see these decisions as a turning point, and hope that the doors of the era of coups in Turkey are now closed. However, we have no grounds for this hope.”

In the article titled “ABD’ci ve İsrail’ci nitelemesine kim daha çok yakışıyor” (“Who is better suited for the pro-USA or pro-Israel definition”) dated Jan. 1, 2014:

“While blaming the USA and Israel, therefore trying to be acquitted from the allegations of corruption and bribery in the eyes of the public, they are also associating the ‘Cemaat’ [The Gulenist Congregation] with the US and Israel. This happens behind the curtains. Everyone knows how these sort of behaviors are called in Islam.”

In the article titled “Paralel devletin hükümet operasyonu mu? Yoksa maymunlaşmamak için mi?” (“Is this parallel state’s operation against the government or is it an attempt to avoid being a caveman?”) dated Feb. 7, 2014:

“The corruption of those who hold power is not a corruption committed against a person; but a corruption against a nation, a country and the future of that country. No one can say ‘whatever’ to that. The members of judiciary and Police department whom they praised before became ‘spies, hashaşis [assassins]’ and members of parallel state who were directed by the US and Israel to ambush the government.’ The honored prosecutors’ and police officers’ operation against bribery and corruption was a chance to save us from being messed up, entrapped, miserable cavemen. Because what they did was to prevent the münker [the forbidden and haram in Islam]. They were supposed to be applauded, to be congratulated.”

In the article titled “Süfyan and Süfyaniyet” [Süfyan refers a tyrant who supposed to live before Mahdi in Islamic belief] dated May 11, 2014:

“Yes, a süfyan who is ambitious for a post, to rise and to be appreciated doesn’t want anyone for comparison. He is jealous of all those who can rival him on his way to satisfy his ambitions, and tries to eliminate them. Essentially, it is envy that triggers his ambition. I once read a review of a psychoanalyst about the combination of ambition, jealousy and anger / hostility / enmity in a person in these dimensions: ‘Such a person, especially his childhood, has gone through traumas. These characters developed in people who didn’t have what their friends had, alienated by them and had not received love and compassion in their family.’…”

In the article titled “Menderes, Özal and Erdoğan” dated May 18, 2014:

“Menderes and Özal had already laid the stones of Erdogan’s path to power. But during the Erdoğan government era, moral and spiritual erosion, secularization of religious people, the collapse of education, the decriminalization of adultery, the rise of prostitution, gambling and alcohol took place. Erdoğan became unrecognizable, especially in his third term. By shutting down the study centers, which provided free courses for over 700,000 students in the southeast provinces, Erdoğan played into the PKK’s hands and got a blow in the opportunity of education and education equality for poor children of Anatolia. In short, Erdoğan could not be like Menderes and Özal despite the great opportunities God had given him. The future will also show you how and with whom …”

In the article titled “Mavi Marmara gerçekte neydi?” (“What was the Mavi Marmara in reality?”) dated June 14, 2014:

“Was Mavi Marmara a new One Minute incident in the name of the prestige of the AKP government and within the framework of the US plans in the region? What was it really?”

In the article titled “Bugün müttefik olanlar yarın düşman olunca” (“When the allies of today become the enemies of tomorrow”) dated Nov. 23, 2015:

“Erdoğan explained the reason for his war against the Hizmet [movement] with using all the power and means: ‘They betrayed me.’ So the ‘power’, even ‘Turkey’ means Erdoğan. Because Erdoğan, have signed the decision to finish the Cemaat in 2004; and he had admitted his intention to shut down the [Gulenist] schools since he came to power. Can Erdoğan win his war against Hizmet and finish it off? Erdoğan is fighting like he forgot God, but the fate is always in taqwa. It seems that while Erdoğan continues his war against Hizmet, at one point he will say ‘I finished Hizmet off.’ And then, while he drowns in the plans of his ally in this war - an ally which has always planned to overthrow him - he will reach his hand to Hizmet to survive but the wisdom and justice of fate will push that hand back.”

Ünal’s comments during a TV program on Samanyolu TV on March 27, 2014, also were used as accusations in the indictment. The comments were as follows:

“Hizmet movement will survive these incidents by increasing its prestige both in Turkey and in the world. (…) The ones who said “The Hizmet is over” and stand by the government will come to apologize tomorrow and will say they have done wrong. The people leaving the Hizmet movement today, such as students, will take shelter in Hizmet tomorrow. And the Hizmet movement will strengthen both in Turkey and the world, so consequently Turkey will wake up to a beautiful spring.”

Regarding Ünal’s articles, the indictment stated:

“All articles and comments were written with intention of instigating the abolishment of the constitutional order by 15th of July coup d’état. In this respect, the writings and comments of the suspected Ali Ünal were in a position to prepare the coup of 15th of July, 2016, and to change the constitutional order, which cannot be considered under the freedom of the press or freedom of expression …”

Also, the indictment claimed Ali Ünal was found to “have communicated with the people who were found to be within the Uşak structure of FETÖ”, “have contacted and affiliated with Asian Participation Bank, Samanyolu Publishing, Feza Publishing, Journalists and Writers Foundation”, have “attended as a “Big Brother” speaker in the meetings of the organization held in Uşak.” Also eight witnesses’ testimony against Ünal were included in the indictment.

In the indictment, it was mentioned Ünal had departed abroad four times in 2011 through the records of his exits, and allegedly he met with Gülen face-to-face. The indictment stated Gülen’s photos were found in Ünal’s mobile phone, which was confiscated when he was detained.

The indictment recommending two times aggravated life sentence and 29.5 years of prison was accepted by Uşak’s 2nd High Criminal Court.

The indictment against Ünal was issued on Sept. 28, 2016.

The first hearing of the trial was held in Uşak 2nd High Criminal Court on Jan. 4, 2018. The police report - which proved Ünal was not a ByLock [an encrypted online messenger application] user - was presented in the hearing.

Ünal defended his writings as follows:

“I am innocent before the law. I have been in prison for 17 months. My articles were published in a newspaper that sells more than one million copies and my speech was aired in a television with millions of viewers. Since my writings and expressions were such a serious offense, why wasn’t there any investigation started earlier? I have always been against the coups. I wrote more than a thousand articles for Zaman, and wrote more than two thousand for several encyclopedias and magazines. We all know Gülen was supported by several governments. It is a structure that was supported by Justice and Development Party for 11 years. But the government can say ‘We were deceived’ and save itself from prosecution. But teachers, students, shopkeepers who would be much easier to deceive are accused. In November 2017, a court in Erzincan convicted FETÖ as a terrorist organization for the first time. Until this date, neither the executive nor the judiciary had confirmed it was a terrorist organization. No article written before any coup was prosecuted as ‘coup plotter’ after a coup. Is there anyone who can guarantee that there won’t be a coup in the upcoming years? Even today there are critics. Will they be accused of a coup? Since when does the law work in retroaction? Since when does the law read intentions? I have no duty in any part of the organization. After mentioning the layers of the organization, the prosecutor stated there was also a sub-layer of sympathizers. Maybe I can be associated there, but I didn’t get any instructions from the organization and nobody gave me instructions. I was often in conflict with the newspaper’s editorial policy. (…) Many of my articles were censored in Zaman. I have never worked as a translator in any of Fethullah Gülen’s meetings, I am not fluent in English. I am one hundred percent innocent. Your verdict will bind you, too. I demand my release.”

In the first hearing, the court decided for Mustafa Ünal, who is Ünal’s brother and a teacher, to be released under judicial control and for his file to be separated from the case. The court ruled Ali Ünal should remain in prison.

The second hearing of the trial was held in Feb. 27, 2018. In the second hearing, the court ruled again to continue Ünal’s imprisonment.

Meanwhile, new evidence had been presented to the file.

Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, started an investigation against Kaynak Holding A.Ş. in 2014. The company’s headquarter was searched, and a 320 GB-sized hard disk was seized. An Excel file titled “prayer list” was found in the hard disk. The file was a list of 944 names and number one was Fethullah Gülen. The prosecutor found many of the names in the list were part of a high-level structure of the FETÖ/PDY terrorist organization. An investigation and prosecution started against about 530 people on the list. Ali Dereli, a prosecutor with the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office ruled for no jurisdiction on May 15, 2018 and sent the hard disk to the Uşak Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office for inclusion in Ünal’s file as evidence.

The books, “Fetullah Gülen: Bir Portre Denemesi” (“Fetullah Gülen: An Attempt of a Portrait”) and “Hizmet Rehberi” (“A Guide to Hizmet”) were also included in Ünal’s file.

The third hearing of the trial was held on May 10, 2018. Ünal attended the third hearing via the teleconferencing (SEGBİS) system. At the hearing, the public prosecutor Elif İkiz demanded to hear Nurettin Veren as a witness. She presented articles of Veren titled “FETÖ’nün ruh ikizi Ali Ünal’dır” (“FETÖ’s soulmate is Ali Ünal” dated Feb. 1, 2017) and “FETÖ’nün Hayalet Yapılanması” (“The ghost structure of FETÖ” dated April 12, 2017) as evidence in requesting a testimony.

Ali Ünal said:

“I don’t accept Nurettin Veren’s testimony. He sued Fethullah Gülen. Veren named me as a witness. When I didn’t serve as a witness for him, he started to bear hostility towards me. He tore away after spending 30 years with Gülen. He became a slanderer.”

However, Ünal’s request for the refusal of Veren’s testimony was rejected.

The fourth hearing of the trial was held on July, 18, 2018. Ünal attended the hearing via the teleconference. In the hearing, Veren gave the following statement via the teleconferencing system:

“Ali Ünal was making all the correspondences for the organization leader Fethullah Gülen in America. He has exchanged correspondences with Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton. He also translated Gülen’s books into English. Gülen’s correspondences with the politicians and his sympathizer were also written by Ali Ünal. He was the person who knew all the details and secrets of FETÖ and advised Fethullah Gülen. Ali Ünal is the most important member of the organization. He was considered as the most important person in military, civilian and judicial areas. He knew all the members of the organization such as Gülen’s principal clerk, and he advised Gülen on which instructions would be sent. When I visited Gülen to make him return to the country, he loudly instructed the people in the room to kill me. Along with the other people in the room he walked up to me with an iron in his hand. Ali Ünal is one of the witnesses of this incident. There is no enmity between me and Ali Ünal.”

Ali Ünal stated he did not accept Veren’s testimony and said:

“I translated the letter which addressed Bill Clinton, not Hillary Clinton. I translated only four of more than 70 books written by Gülen. I visited America on June 2015 for the last time. I didn’t have any further contact. I was caught in my village, not while fleeing away. I have never advised Gülen about anything. I didn’t stay with Gülen, just visited.”

In the same hearing, prosecutor Elif İkiz, explained her opinion regarding the accusations. She charged Ünal with the following statements:

  • Working as a columnist for the Zaman newspaper, which is an important financial and propaganda tool for the terrorist organization,

  • Conducting the organization’s media activities by glorifying the organization with the misleading news and comments in the direction of the aims of the terrorist organization, and with the instructions of Gülen himself,

  • Carrying out the activities of the terrorists to reach the broader masses, acting in the interest of the organization by writing articles on political crises and instability, rendering the government inactive by criticizing the government’s stance against the FETÖ armed terrorist organization,

  • Defending the investigations and prosecutions carried out by the so-called judges and prosecutors of the organization in order to neutralize and destroy the patriot members of the Turkish Armed Forces,

  • Trying to justify the impacts of the coup and plots of the organization in the eyes of the public with his articles,

  • Meeting with Gülen face-to-face, using accommodations in the organization’s camp,

  • Using a communication application named Kakao Talk, which was used by the members of the organization.

Prosecutor İkiz recommended an aggravated life sentence for “attempting to abolish the Constitutional order” and 15 to 20 years of prison for “helping to commit the crime” for Ünal. Ünal demanded additional time to prepare his defense. The trial was postponed.

On Aug. 27, 2018, Ünal demanded his release, again. The request was submitted to the Uşak 2nd High Criminal Court and stressed Ünal had been in prison for more than 24 months. In the request petition, it was stated:

“As of May 15, 2018, the defendant has been imprisoned for two years and no appropriate decision was made to extend it. He is currently in completely unlawful detention and must be released urgently.”

The fifth hearing of the trial was held on Sept. 5, 2018. In the hearing, Ünal said he could not prepare his defense due to his health problems. The hearing was postponed.

The last hearing of the trial was held on Nov. 14, 2018. Ünal defended himself as follows:

“I didn’t take any organizational responsibility. I wasn’t an administrator for a sect. If I had been in an important position, I would have been trialed in the roof case in Ankara. Why didn’t any other FETÖ trials mention my name? I didn’t subscribe to any of the publications. There used to be Zaman newspaper’s campaigns to collect subscribers, I did not even join them. I did not even participate in the 2014 Turkish Olympics, which then Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan attended. he indictment claimed I helped the coup attempt, but there is no concrete evidence, no documents.

“They include only 17 of my articles in the indictment but I wrote over a thousand articles for Zaman. Isn’t it normal to criticize what I thought was wrong? If criticizing is launching a coup, then I would have to launch it by 2013. If there is something wrong, I would criticize the government, and I also applauded its success. There was no refutation or an investigation against any of my articles. My criticisms in my articles are the necessity of my religion.”

“I did not support the coup in my articles. If you could show me one word, I will not defend myself. Newspapers have supported the February 28 [coup], with their headlines but no single journalist was prosecuted.”

“In the indictment of the main coup trial, the coup started as of Dec. 27, 2015. How could I pave the way for a coup with my articles that were published in 2011? How could I help a coup that I didn’t know about? I demand my acquittal.”

In his last words, Ünal said, “I do not accept the accusations. This structure wasn’t identified as a ‘terrorist organization’ until 2016. My last word is ‘justice.’”

Twenty six months after Ünal’s arrest, the court reached a decision. The court sentenced Ünal to 19 years and 6 months in prison for “establishing and managing an armed terrorist organization.”

The prosecutor’s claim for “attempting abolishing Constitutional order” was declined for lack of concrete evidence. Ünal was acquitted of this charge.

In the verdict, Ünal’s account activities in Bank Asya, his being a lecturer at a school shuttered by adecree law, his attending to the organization’s “religious conversations” and a demonstration in front of the İstanbul Courthouse for the chief editors of Samanyolu TV and the Zaman Newspaper who were taken into custody, were all included as reasons of charge.

The reasons for the acquittal of Ünal from the charge of violation of the constitution were also included in the verdict.

It was stated that there was no evidence regarding Ünal’s de facto taking part in the coup attempt. It was also stated that Ünal’s articles published by the Zaman Newspaper, his existence in the institutions which are allegedly associated with the organization, his investing money to a bank which is allegedly the bank of the organization do not amount to his “non-pecuniarily supporting the coup attempt.”

However, in the verdict it was stated that all these may be regarded as evidences to the crime of “founding an armed terrorist organization and governing it.”

In the judicial proceedings, Ünal’s statement that “Any verdict you will bring about me will be a verdict about you, yourselves” was evaluated as a threat to the court board. Because of his statement, the court did not reduce the sentence of him.

Ünal appealed the verdict.

The Appeal

The Izmir Regional Courthouse’s 2nd Penal Chamber conducted the appeal process and approved the decision of the first instance court on July 5, 2019. It was stated that there was no unlawfulness in the decision of the local court. The Court of Appeal ruled that Ünal’s detention should continue.

The file was referred to the Court of Cassation by Ünal’s lawyers.
Yet, Talat Deniz, the public prosecutor of Izmir objected to the verdict. Because the Court of Appeal’s decision resulted in the approval of the acquittal of Ünal from the charge of violating the constitution.

Izmir public prosecutor Deniz claimed that the sentence given at the end of the appeal process was deficient.”

The file is at the court of Cassation now.

6. Standing - Nov. 14, 2018


Kapatılan Zaman Gazetesi yazarı Ali Ünal, gazetenin eski yazar ve yöneticileri hakkında “FETÖ/ Fetullah Gülen Terör Örgütü- PDY/Paralel Devlet Yapılanması” kapsamında “örgüt yöneticisi olmak” iddiasıyla başlatılan soruşturma kapsamında yakalama kararı çıkartıldı.

Ünal, 11 Ağustos 2016 günü Uşak’ın Eşme ilçesinde gözaltına alındı. Beş günlük gözaltı sonrası “Anayasal Düzeni Ortadan Kaldırmaya Teşebbüs Etme” ve “Silahlı Terör Örgütü Kurma veya Yönetme” suçlamasıyla Uşak 2. Sulh Ceza Hakimliği’nce tutuklandı.

Hakkındaki iddianame 28 Eylül 2017’de Uşak Cumhuriyet Savcısı Elif İkiz tarafından 300 sayfa olarak hazırlandı. Cumhurbaşkanı Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, “mağdur” sıfatıyla yer aldı. Uşak 2. Ağır Ceza Mahkemesi’nce kabul edilen iddianame kapsamında hakkında iki kez ağırlaştırılmış müebbet ve 29.5 yıl hapis cezası istemiyle dava açıldı. İddianamede, Ünal’ın çeşitli tarihlerde Zaman Gazetesi’nde yayımlanan 17 köşe yazısıyla birlikte çeşitli televizyon kanallarındaki açık oturumlarda dile getirdiği görüşlerine deliller arasında yer verildi.

Davanın ilk duruşması 4 Ocak 2018 günü görüldü. İlk duruşmada Ünal, suçlandığı 17 köşe yazısına dair savunma yaptı ve tahliyesini istedi, reddedildi. Ancak tutukluluğuna devam kararı verilerek, duruşması 27 Şubat 2018 ertelendi.

27 Şubat 2018 tarihinde görülen ikinci duruşmada Ünal, Gülen ve örgüt üyelerinden talimat almadığını, örgütün hiçbir kademesinde isminin geçmediğini kaydetti.

Davanın dördüncü duruşması ise 18 Temmuz 2018 günü görüldü. Bu duruşmada esas hakkındaki mütalaasını açıklayan savcı Elif İkiz, Ünal’ın, “Anayasal düzeni ortadan kaldırmaya teşebbüs” suçlamasıyla ağırlaştırılmış müebbet, “silahlı terör örgütü kurmak ve yönetmek” suçlamasıyla 15 yıldan 20 yıla kadar hapisle cezalandırılmasını talep etti. Duruşma 5 Eylül 2018 tarihine erteledi.

Beşinci duruşmada dosyaya atanan yeni savcı, önceki duruşmada sunulan esas hakkındaki mütalaayı tekrar ederek, Ünal’ın cezalandırılmasını talep etti.

Ünal, savunma için ek süre istedi. Yargılama 14 Kasım 2018’e erteledi. Karar duruşmasında Ünal hakkında “örgüt üyesi olmak” gerekçesiyle 19 yıl 6 ay hapis cezası verildi. Avukatları kararı temyiz için istinaf mahkemesine götürdü.

Ünal, görülen duruşmaların hiçbirinde salonda hazır edilmedi. Tutuklu bulunduğu cezaevinden SEGBİS aracılığıyla duruşmaya katıldı.


Müzakerenin ardından avukat ve izleyiciler 13:51’de yeniden salona alındı ve karar açıklandı.

Ünal’a yönelik “Anayasal düzeni ortadan kaldırmaya teşebbüs” suçlamasından beraatine karar verildi. Ancak “silahlı terör örgütü kurmak ve yönetmek” suçlamasıyla 19 yıl 6 ay hapis cezası ve tutukluluk halinin devamına karar verildi.


Uşak 2. Ağır Ceza Mahkemesi’nde görülen duruşmada mahkeme heyeti, İsmail Deniz (Başkan), Cihan Aksoy ve Naim Kalaoğlu’dan oluştu.

Duruşma kimlik tespitiyle başladı. Ünal, duruşmaya tutuklu bulunduğu İzmir 2 No’lu F Tipi Kapalı Cezaevi’nden SEGBİS aracılığıyla katıldı.

Savcı Elif İkiz, daha önce sunmuş olduğu mütalaayı tekrarladı. İkiz, Ünal’ın, “Anayasal düzeni ortadan kaldırmaya teşebbüs” suçlamasıyla ağırlaştırılmış müebbet, “silahlı terör örgütü kurmak ve yönetmek” suçlamasıyla 15 yıldan 20 yıla kadar hapisle cezalandırılmasını istedi.

Saat 11.00’de Ünal’ın esas hakkındaki mütalaa karşısındaki savunmasına geçildi.

Ünal’ın savunmasının satır başları şöyle:

Örgütsel manada bir vazife almadım. Bir saniye olsun yönetici olmadım. Bu kadar önemli bir pozisyonum varsa Ankara’daki çatı davasında ya da Türkiye’nin başka kentlerindeki FETÖ davalarından herhangi birinde ismim neden geçmedi.

“Nurettin Veren benimle ilgili yazılar yazmış. Fetullah Gülen’in danışmanıymış gibi hareket ettiğimi söylemiş. Hakkımda yazdıkları tamamen yanlıştır. Hakkımda 14 iddiası var, tamamı yalan. ABD’de Gülen’in yanında kaldığımı söylemiş. Kitap çalışmalarımı yapmak için gittim. Benim doksanın üzerinde kitabım var. İngilizce editörümle çalışmak için gittim ve orada da kitapevinin misafirhanesi olan bir yerde 6 ay kadar kaldım.

“HTS dökümü (Historical Traffic Search) kayıtları ortada. Benim bu yapıyla ilişkili olan yargı, askeriye ya da emniyetteki tek bir kişiyle bir iletişimim bile olmamıştır.

Bu sırada hakim İsmail Deniz “Fetullah Gülen ile görüştün mü?” diye sordu. Ünal, 5-6 kez görüştüğünü söyledi.

Ünal, savunmasına devam etti:

“Darbe teşebbüsünü sabah televizyondan öğrendim. Tek bir örgütsel faaliyete katılmadım. Gazete, dergi abonesi olmadım. Zaman Gazetesi’nin abone toplamak amacıyla kampanyalara bile katılmadım. 2014 yılında dönemin Başbakanı şimdinin Cumhurbaşkanı Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’ın da katıldığı Türkçe olimpiyatlarına bile katılmadım.
İddianamede darbe teşebbüsüne yardım ettiğim ileri sürülmüş ama ne yaptığıma dair somut bir bilgi, belge yok.

“Zaman Gazetesi’nin yayın politikasıyla ters düşen yazılar bile yazdım. İddianameye sadece 17 yazım konulmuş ama Zaman Gazetesi’nde binin üzerinde yazım var. Yanlış gördüklerimi eleştirmem gayet normal değil midir? Eleştiri yapmak darbeyi başlatmak ise ben 2013’te darbeyi başlatmış oluyorum. Bir defa olsun bir yazıma ilişkin bir tekzip, ya da soruşturma açılmadı.

“Ben yazdığım yazılarda darbeyi destekleyici bir yazı yazmadım. Buna dair tek bir kelime gösterirsin, savunma yapmayacağım.

“Darbe ana davasının iddianamesinde darbe hazırlığına 27 Aralık 2015 itibariyle başlandığı söylenmiştir. Ben yazılarımla 2011 yılında nasıl darbe hazırlığı yapabilirim. Haberim olmayan bir darbeye nasıl yardımcı olabilirim. Beraatımı talep ediyorum.”

12.35’te avukatların savunmasına geçildi.

Avukat Gürkan Çakıroğlu:

“Müvekkilim 64 yaşında ve 26 aydır tutukludur. İki suç yöneltilmiştir. İddianamenin kendisi müvekkilimin masumiyetine dair en önemli delildir. 212 sayfada müvekkilimin adı bile yer almamış. Beraatını talep ediyoruz.”

Avukat Ayşe Süheda Ünal’ın yaptığı savunmanın satır başları şöyleydi:

“İddianame objektiflikten uzaktır. Müvekkilimim yazıları nedeniyle ‘terörist’ ilan edilmektedir. Tamamen bir niyet okumadır, sadece fikirlerini paylaştığı için suçlanmaktadır. İddianamede darbeye teşebbüs edenler listesinde dahi müvekkilimin ismi yoktur ama darbeden dolayı yargılanmaktadır. Müvekkil yasal olan bir gazetede yazarlık yapmıştır. ‘Baş yazar’ olarak ilan edilmiş ama, kendisi baş yazar olmamıştır. Yazı yazılarak, darbe yapılmaz. Darbecilik kastı olsaydı, yazılarını gizli basar öyle dağıtırdı. Aleni bir şekilde köşesine taşımazdı.

“İddianame hukuki zeminden uzak yorumlardan oluşmaktadır. Düşünceden dolayı yargılama yapılmaktadır. Tutukluluk bir cezaya dönüşmüştür. Tahliyesini ve beraatını talep ediyoruz.”

Savunmaların ardından Ünal’a son sözü soruldu. Mahkeme Başkanı İsmail Deniz, Ünal’a son sözünü birkaç dakika ile sınırlandırmasını istedi.

Ünal, son söz olarak şunu söyledi:

“Suçlamaları kabul etmiyorum. Bu yapı 2016 yılına kadar ‘terör örgütü’ olarak görülmüyordu. Dolayısıyla son sözüm adalettir.”

Duruşmaya 13:05’e karar için ara verildi.


Duruşma Öncesi

Adliye binasına X-Ray cihazındaki aramadan sonra girildi. Duruşma için 10:30 saati belirlenmişti. Duruşmanın görüleceği 2. Ağır Ceza Mahkemesi’nin önünde güvenlik görevlilerinin yanısıra üç resmi polis konumlandırılmıştı. Avukat ve duruşmayı takip etmek için gelen gazeteciler, duruşma salonuna saatinde alındı. Ancak savcı ve mahkeme heyeti saat 10:50’de yerlerini aldı. Duruşma saat 10:55’te başladı.

Mahkeme Salonu Koşulları

Ünal’ın duruşmasının görüldüğü mahkeme salonu Uşak Adliyesi’nin ikinci katındaydı. Duruşma günü farklı bir duruşma görülmedi. İlk ve tek duruşma Ünal’ın duruşmasıydı. Mahkeme salonu havalandırılmış ve temizdi. Salonda 20 kişilik izleyici sırası vardı. SEGBİS sistemi için iki büyük ekran konulmuştu.

Duruşmaya Katılım

Duruşmaya Ünal’ın avukatları Ayşe Süheda Ünal ve Gürkan Çakıroğlu da katıldı. Duruşmayı P24 ve AA (Anadolu Ajansı) çalışanları dışında izleyen olmadı. Salonda üçü resmi biri sivil olmak üzere dört polis vardı.

Genel Gözlemler

Mahkeme heyeti salona girer girmez, gazetecilerin bilgisayarların kapattırdı. Telefon ve bilgisayar kullanımın “yasa gereği yasak” olduğunu söyledi. Gazeteciler saatler süren duruşmayı not alarak takip etmek zorunda kaldı.

Heyet, duruşma başladıktan yaklaşık bir saat sonra ise savunma dilekçesini hazırlayan avukat Ayşe Süheda Ünal’ın bilgisayarını kapattırdı. Avukat Gürkan Çakıroğlu’nun da telefon kullanmasına aynı gerekçeyle karşı çıktı.

Savcı mütalaasını okuduktan sonra duruşmayı izlemedi. Kimi zaman telefonuyla, bilgisayarıyla kıyafetiyle ilgilenerek zaman geçirdi. Mahkeme başkanı İsmail Deniz, oldukça sert bir yapıya sahipti. Ünal’ın savunmasını ara ara bölerek, kısa bir şekilde tutanaklara geçirtti.

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Ali Ünal - Zaman Trial (Reasoned Judgement)

Ali Ünal - Zaman Trial (The Court of Appeal's Judgement)