Journalist Çağdaş Ulus was born in Kars in 1986. He came to Istanbul with his family at primary school. He graduated from Cyprus University, Faculty of Communication, Department of Journalism. He started working as a reporter for Vatan Newspaper, which he joined as an intern.
He was detained on December 20th, 2011 as part of an investigation popularly known as the “KCK Press Trial”. He was arrested on December 24th, 2011. He was released pending trial on September 13th, 2012. He was charged with “membership of an armed terrorist organization.” He faces 7 years 6 months to 15 years in prison. The prosecution did not yet submit its opinion as to the accusations although the trial started in September 2012.
In 2013, he penned a book titled “When the Sect Gives the Order”, focusing on his imprisonment for the “KCK Press Trial”. In 2016, he released another book titled “24 Hours”, where he analyzed journalist Uğur Mumcu’s assassination.
49 journalists and media professionals working for “Kurdish media” outlets, namely Dicle News Agency (DİHA), Özgür Gündem Newspaper, Fırat News Agency (ANF) and Roj TV were arrested in the early morning hours on December 20th, 2011, with police raids on their homes or media outlets in Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, Van, Adana and Diyarbakır.
Vatan Newspaper reporter Çağdaş Ulus figured among those taken under custody in Istanbul in an operation by armed police.
The journalists and media professionals thus detained were taken on the next day to the Istanbul Police Department’s Anti-Terror Branch on Vatan Avenue, Istanbul.
A “confidentiality / restriction order” was issued regarding the case. As a result, the journalists in custody were initially unable to learn the charges against them.
According to the indictment, during police inquiry, Ulus was asked how he knew a certain teacher in Diyarbakır. Ulus explained that the said teacher made music with his students in 4-5 different languages and received awards for this effort. He had contacted him to report on this. He stated that he had not been able to publish the news story in newspapers in Cyprus at the time, and so, he met with the editor of Gündem newspaper, İsmet Kayhan over Internet, and that he sent a few news articles from Cyprus to Özgür Gündem.
Saying that he did not meet Kayhan face to face, Ulus added that he met with journalist Zeynep Kuray detained under the same operation while trying to obtain contact information of a news source. He denied any contact with “PKK/KCK” and any information about “Democratic Enlightenment Union (Yekîtiya Ragihandina Demokratik – YRD)” or “KCK/PKK Press Committee”.
Seven of the detained journalists were released on December 23rd after their interrogation at the prosecutor’s office. However, 42 journalists and media professionals including Ulus were referred to the court with a request for their arrest. Ulus was arrested on charges of “membership of a terror organization” and taken to Kandıra No. 1 F Type Closed Prison.
The indictment against journalists and media professionals including journalist Çağdaş Ulus, a reporter with Vatan Newspaper, was completed on April 27th, 2012 by Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office.
In the indictment, it was claimed that the so-called “KCK / PKK Press Committee” and “Democratic Enlightenment Union” (Yekîtiya Ragihandina Demokratik - YRD) guided the editorial policy and news coverage of the “Kurdish media”.
Dicle News Agency (DİHA), Fırat Publishing and Distribution Company, Gün Printing House (which printed the newspapers Azadiya Welat, Denge Welat, Özgür Gündem, Yeni Demokratik Toplum, Yeni Demokratik Yaşam, Yeni Demokratik Ulus and the magazines Özgür Halk, Demokratik Modernite, Yurtsever Gençlik), Fırat News Agency (ANF), Azadiya Welat Newspaper, Özgür Gündem Newspaper and other daily and weekly newspapers in Turkish; as well as various media or news outlets, including Roj TV, Medya TV, and Mezopotamya Radio, were listed among “KCK / PKK’s media outlets” in the indictment.
The indictment added that “KCK / PKK’s Press Committee has been holding regular meetings since 2001 to consolidate the hierarchy within the organization’s media network, and Press Conferences have transformed into YRD Conferences over time”, and that “The Press Committee’s editorial policy focused on establishing the state of Kurdistan”.
Journalistic activities were presented as “terror group’s activities” in the indictment. The indictment made frequent use of allegations and definitions such as “so-called journalism activities”, “news designed to denigrate the state”, “terror group-driven journalism”, “an independent journalist would not have penned such news stories” and “the photographs found in the computer denigrated state officials”.
37 pages of the 800-page indictment were dedicated to explaining the “KCK / PKK structure”; this section featured the arguments of the prosecutor as well as statements by three members of the organization and three secret witnesses who were captured or had surrendered. In addition, Abdullah Öcalan’s talks with his lawyers and the latters’ correspondence with each other were also included.
The next 100 pages offered a history of the “Kurdish media”. There were claims regarding the relationship between the organization and the newspapers, magazines, radios, televisions and web sites going back to the 1970s.
The prosecution claimed that many media outlets, especially DİHA, Fırat News Agency (ANF), Roj TV, were “broadcasting to serve the purposes of KCK / PKK”.
The news, images, articles and interviews shared among these media outlets; statements of secret witnesses and suspects; and “KCK Charter’s sections related to the press” were presented to support these claims.
Journalists’ news stories, journalistic activities and coverage for media outlets such as Roj TV and ANF were presented as criminal activities.
In the indictment, 44 journalists and media employees were charged with “membership or leadership of a terrorist organization”.
The indictment claimed that Ulus was “among the two representatives of the terror group in mainstream national media”.
Some of Ulus’ overseas travels between 2004-2011 were listed. Apart from these, it was also stated that there were many more records of him leaving and returning to the country. Accordingly, it was claimed that Ulus attended the 3rd Press Conference held in July 2005 and the 4th Press Conference held in 2007.
Mobile phones, SIM cards, memory cards, mini camera, camera cassette, 36-exposure film roll, CD / DVDs and hard disks seized in his home were included in the indictment.
As a result of phone wiretapping, the following records were added to the indictment about Ulus’ alleged phone conversations:
1- Wiretapping record dated December 2011 of a phone conversation with defendant of the trial and ANF editor İsmet Kayhan about a news story.
Kayhan congratulates Ulus for a news article which made it to the newspaper’s headline. Then, they talk about the problems Ulus had with a news source, and then about another news follow-up. In his assessment of this conversation, the prosecutor claimed “Kayhan provided this information to serve a purpose of the organization, and in return, he asked for information from Ulus to further the purposes of the organization,” and added that “Ulus reached information that a normal journalist could not, by the intermediation of İsmet Kayhan, a leader of KCK/PKK, and as such, stood out among his colleagues.”
According to the wiretapping record in the indictment, Kayhan and Ulus talk about “a news story about the sect’s men in Istanbul”. The prosecutor said, “Kayhan asked Ulus to investigate the sect’s members within the police.” It is further claimed that Abdullah Öcalan made statements to his lawyers in in May-June 2011 urging the terror organization to target the Gülen sect, and in an interview on November 30, 2011 by ANF, Murat Karayılan claimed that the Gülen sect was responsible for the military operations against the organization.
The indictment prosecutor accused Ulus and Kayhan of attempting to “pen a news story which would expose the sect members within the police”. The indictment included the following statements:
“It has been understood that the ‘journalist’ named Çağdaş Ulus planned to draft a list of alleged sect members within the Istanbul Police Department and send it to İsmet Kayhan, who would then initiate a manipulative media campaign.”
2- Wiretapping record dated December 2011 of a phone conversation with defendant of the trial and journalist Zeynep Kuray about a news story and breaking news.
3- Wiretapping record dated November 2011 of a phone conversation with İsmet Kayhan about a news story. Ulus says that the police used to provide only some information to mainstream journalists in the past, but that now they pass written information much like a news bulletin. In his assessment of this meeting, the prosecutor said that the day before this conversation, ANF published a news story titled “Police has already penned the news story: That’s how journalists cover KCK operations”, claiming that “The conversation between Ulus and Kayhan runs parallel to this news story”. The prosecutor accused Ulus of “writing a news story upon the instructions of Kayhan and then sending it to all the media outlets of the terror organization.”
4- Wiretapping record dated December 2011 where Ulus tells Kayhan that he received threatening phone calls urging him to discontinue his news stories about favoritism in recruitments and unjust sackings in Northern Cyprus, and then they talk about confidential news sources in state agencies.
In his assessment about this conversation, the prosecutor said that the news story in question concerned the students deported in November 2011 for allegedly carrying out activities for PKK in Northern Cyprus, and that journalist Ulus said on the phone that “I retorted that if they throw innocent people off the island or imprison them as they wish, of course I will make news stories about every shortcoming that I detect”. The prosecutor accused Ulus of “legitimizing the activities of pro-KCK/PKK student groups and portraying them as innocent.”
The prosecutor indicated that in the continuation of the conversation, Ulus claimed that a member of the organization was killed by chemical weapons and that one day later ANF published a news story stating “…the use of all means of extermination including chemical weapons against Kurdish liberation fighters”. The prosecutor accused Ulus of “sending to Kayhan a news story serving the purposes of the organization, based on trumped-up information which could lead to unjust accusations against the Republic of Turkey, and put Turkey in a difficult position in the European political arena”.
5- Wiretapping record dated December 2011 of a conversation with Kayhan where the names of numerous journalists and news sources were mentioned. The names of journalists and news sources were disclosed in the indictment. In his assessment of this conversation, the prosecutor noted that Ulus was trying to collect information for a news story and that journalist Zeynep Kuray had a news source within the Forensic Medicine Institute. The identity of that news source was revealed in the section of the indictment regarding Kuray.
6- Wiretapping record dated December 2011 of a conversation with Kayhan about various news stories. During the conversation Ulus said “The mainstream media outlets that he works for would not publish claims about the assassination of PKK members”.
In his assessment about this conversation, the prosecutor accused Ulus of complaining to a “KCK/PKK officer” about his news managers. The prosecutor also touched upon their dialogue about the alleged ailment of the then-Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan. About Ulus’ words “That’s fine, we should go and check it”.
The prosecutor said that Ulus was rejoiced to hear that the Prime Minister’s illness was advancing, by saying “That’s fine”.
The prosecutor accused Ulus of passing news stories to ANF under the pseudonym “Bahoz Deniz” while he was working for Vatan Newspaper. The prosecutor argued, “The fact that he used the code name of the HPG leader Bahoz Erdal points to his strong emotional bond with the terror organization”.
On the basis of the examination of his e-mails, the prosecution claimed that Ulus texted Kayhan in 25 different time zones, and that he “penned news stories according to the latter’s instructions; and that the two individuals shared news stories related to the organization’s activities”.
The prosecutor’s office, claiming that ANF is “the media outlet of the terror organization” and Kayhan is “a leader of the organization”, argued that Ulus’ ties to Kayhan were also confirmed by the statements of the secret witness Bahar.
As a result of the examination of electronic materials seized in Ulus’s house, the following texts, images and videos were added as evidence to the indictment:
1- Photos and videos of protests where KCK/PKK flags were carried.
2- A text which read “I have only one objective. That is to show how the Kurdish question is related to the development of the organization PKK. I completed this book in four years. First, I analyzed how the Kurdish question evolved in Turkey, which stages it went through and what kind of an approach state officials adopted in the first years of Turkey, and I held interviews with officers active in the 1940s and 1950s”. Ulus stated in his defense that these were taken from journalist Mehmet Ali Birand’s book.
3- News text titled “Increased repression of Kurdish students”, published in Özgür Düşünce Newspaper in Cyprus. The prosecutor claimed that this text “incited citizens of Kurdish origin to hatred and animosity”.
4- News text claimed to be a list of actions by ‘KCK/PKK members’ in the countryside.
5- News text related to the film Beritan.
6- A tract about Nevruz.
7- A CD of the 2006 film Beritan.
8- Photos of Peace and Democracy Party MPs Sebahat Tuncel, Gültan Kışanak, Ahmet Türk and Hamit Geylani taken in various Nevruz festivities.
9- Photos allegedly of a PKK member with the code name Deniz Nemrut.
The prosecutor stated that ANF and “sendika” news web site claimed that the “individual with the code name ‘Deniz Nemrut’ was an agent trained by the police, National Intelligence Organization and Gülen sect” and that “he stopped working for the police and joined the ranks of PKK, however, escaped from PKK after a while”.
It was claimed that this individual’s photo was found in Ulus’ computer, and that “the news texts designed to denigrate the state could have been drafted by Ulus”.
10- Kurdish music files. The prosecutor claimed that they translated some of the texts to Turkish and came across lyrics praising the organization’s militants on the mountains.
The prosecutor also claimed that Çağdaş Ulus “spread propaganda for a terror organization” with his news story titled “Halabja massacre condemned in Nicosia” and dated March 16th, 2009, published in ANF.
The prosecutor claimed that Çağdaş Ulus was active within “the Press Committee” and participated in “YRD’s Press Conferences”.
Accusing Ulus of “being in contact with the ANF editor Kayhan”, the prosecutor alleged that Ulus “received news stories from this defendant on the run to be published in mainstream media, while sending Kayhan news stories favoring the terror organization” and had “hierarchical ties with Kayhan”.
Claiming that Ulus “was one of the two representatives of the terror group in the mainstream national media”, the prosecutor alleged that he published his articles under pseudonyms in his newspaper and ANF, and that one of these pseudonyms was “Bahoz”.
The prosecutor reiterated the issue of “sect members working at the Istanbul Police Department” mentioned in the wiretapping records. He did not make an assessment of this matter, but simply said that Ulus told Kayhan that he could send him the names of “sect members holding senior positions at the Istanbul Police Department.”
In the indictment, the prosecutor charged Ulus with “membership of an armed terror organization” as per Turkish Penal Code 314/2, demanding 5 to 10 years of imprisonment. However, he requested that the prison sentence be extended by half as per Anti-Terror Law Article 5. As such, Ulus faces 7 years, 6 months to 15 years in prison for “membership of an armed terror organization”.
Furthermore, the prosecutor demanded that Ulus be deprived of certain rights pursuant to Turkish Penal Code Article 53.
The “KCK Press Trial”, marked by debates on the right to defense in the mother tongue, was held at 15th High Criminal Court with Special Authority (10 episodes consisting of 32 sessions) from September 10th, 2012 to March 3rd, 2014. The hearings started at Çağlayan Courthouse and were moved to the courtroom in the Silivri campus on November 12th, 2012. From March 26th, 2014 to January 11th, 2018, 15 hearings were held at Istanbul 3rd High Criminal Court located in the Çağlayan Courthouse.
After the abolition of the Courts with Special Authority, the trial was transitioned to İstanbul 3. High Criminal Court in Çağlayan Courthouse from March 26th, 2014 onwards, and 16 hearings have been held until date.
At the third hearing held on September 12th, 2012 at İstanbul High Criminal Court, protests took place within the courtroom upon the rejection of all requests by defense lawyers, including the right of defense in the mother tongue.
The defendants covered their mouths with black cloths and protested the court by applause, and according to the minutes, “all defense lawyers except Çağdaş Ulus’ lawyer Hüseyin Ersöz left the courtroom in protest”.
The panel of judges ordered that the proceedings be transitioned to the Silivri Prison campus due to the defendants’ attitudes during the first section which consisted of three hearings, the insufficiency of the courtroom and the complaints filed. Journalist Çağdaş Ulus and one newspaper distributor were released after the detention check on September 13th, 2012.
On November 5th, 2012, journalists detained under the KCK trials and their lawyers went on hunger strike for the right to defense in the mother tongue.
From November 12th, 2012 onwards, the hearings were moved to the courtroom in Silivri Prison. In this hearing, too, the defendants and lawyers abandoned the courtroom due to impediments to defense in mother tongue.
The court had it recorded in the trial minutes that all non-detained defendants and lawyers abandoned the courtroom. The detained lawyers were brought to Silivri from different prisons for hearings that lasted many days. While the hunger strike continued, the defendants gave responses in Kurdish and Zazaki during ID confirmation.
Frequently debates and protests erupted during the hearings, lawyers’ microphones were turned off, and the courtroom was evacuated upon the orders of the judge. 15. High Criminal Court filed six charges against the audience, lawyers and defendants for allegedly “protesting the court by applause” or “making statements that go beyond the limits of defense to constitute crime”.
It took six hearings to read out loud the 800-page indictment, and the 185-page indictment against two other defendants whose files were merged with the main case. The indictments were read out in turns by two TRT announcers, mainly to an empty hall. When the reading out of the indictments was completed at the 12th session on April 22nd, 2013, 11 of the 37 prisoners had been released.
In the 12th session on April 22nd, 2013, translators from the Kurdish Institute, which the lawyers had invited for interpretation from Kurdish were also in attendance. DİHA editor Ertuş Bozkurt, one of the detained defendants, read out the 25-page Kurdish defense drafted on behalf of all defendants. Detained defendants presented their individual defenses after this joint defense. The defense of the detained defendants was completed at the 17th hearing on June 18th, 2013. The defendants who were not detained commenced their defenses at the 19th hearing on September 25th, 2013, after the completion of the statements of lawyers of the detained defendants.
Çağdaş Ulus presented his defense at the 21. hearing on September 27th, 2013. Ulus said that he has worked as a journalist for five years and that “Although he was engaged in unbiased journalism in Vatan Newspaper, he was detained for nine months on charges of membership of a terror organization”. He explained that journalists communicate with people from various backgrounds to collect news as necessitated by their profession, and that he pens news articles “impartially, and by his own will, and not according to anyone’s instructions”.
Ulus rejected the allegation that he penned news stories upon instruction. He said that on the dates when the indictment claimed that he travelled overseas, he was in Cyprus for university education as can be confirmed by official records and the university’s academic calendar. He stated that in 2007 he was in the USA as part of a student exchange program. He indicated that his lawyers had already submitted to the court documents showing where he was at the dates he was alleged to attend the ‘Press Conferences’. He stated that these accusations were baseless, as could be confirmed by his passport.
Saying that he was also accused of reporting for ANF and Vatan Newspaper under the pseudonym “Bahoz Deniz”, Ulus stated that Vatan Newspaper indicated that they did not have an author under this name and presented many news stories penned by Ulus against various radical organizations to the court. He stated that one of the two articles published in ANF under the name ‘Bahoz Deniz’ was dated January 15th, 2012 - a date when he was under detention.
As for the claim that they had hierarchical relations with the ANF editor İsmet Kayhan, Ulus indicated, “It can be confirmed that I exchanged views with journalists working for media outlets such as Habertürk, Sabah, Zaman, Akşam, ATV, NTV, Milliyet, Hürriyet, just like I did with Kayhan.” Ulus stated that he had already responded to all the accusations against him in a previous petition submitted to the court, and demanded his acquittal.
The president of the court read out Ulus’ statements at the police and prosecutor’s office, and listed the evidence against him. Ulus took the floor about the wiretapping record regarding claims about the use of “chemical gas”, and said that on that day he talked with four different journalists about this news story, but the indictment covered only his conversation with Kayhan.
Ulus also spoke about his article titled “Halabja massacre condemned in Nicosia”, where he was accused of using the term “massacre”. He stated that this event was accepted as a massacre by the International War Court, and that the then-Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan described the event as disastrous.
Upon being asked about the footage found in his hard disk showing Abdullah Öcalan and PKK flags, and the film Beritan, Ulus said that, as a journalist, he had images of people and leaders from all currents in his archive. He emphasized that the film was available on the Internet and that he was entitled to collect information on any subject, as a journalist.
The president of the court asked him about the evidence file containing photos of BDP MPs. Ulus stated that BDP MPs’ photographs taken in Nevruz did not constitute a crime, and that he was sent by Vatan Newspaper to cover the Nevruz celebrations in Kazlıçeşme. He indicated that the documents related to this matter had already been presented to the court. Ulus also reacted against the inclusion of Kurdish music files on his computer as evidence in the indictment, stating that his hard disk contained nearly 30 thousand songs in Kurdish, Turkish, Arabic, French, Syriac and English.
Ulus said that his reading notes from journalist Mehmet Ali Birand’s book based on interviews with Abdullah Öcalan in 1990s were also presented as criminal evidence in the indictment, and added that no investigation was brought against Birand for this book.
He explained that his news story titled “Increased repression of Kurdish students” was published in the newspaper Özgür Düşünce, which he worked for in Cyprus. The news story revealed the unfair practices of the university, and upon a decision by Higher Education Council, these students were reinstated to their universities.
Another judge asked Ulus if he gave anyone the passwords he used at Vatan Newspaper. Ulus said it was not possible to log in from outside to the newspaper’s publishing system. Saying that he gave ANF editor Kayhan only the password of the page for agency news, Ulus stated that this password was changed every 15 days.
Afterwards, his lawyer Hüseyin Ersöz took the floor, saying that the indictment of the prosecutor’s office was a copy of the police report. Emphasizing that they had already responded with documents to the allegations in the police report, Ersöz criticized the fact that the prosecutor did not take into account these documents and responses. He said that this was tantamount to a dereliction of duty. Ersöz stated that there were mainly four charges leveled against Çağdaş Ulus, and presented the following defense in summary:
1- On the accusation that Ulus allegedly participated in meetings in Northern Iraq: Ersöz said that the prosecutor’s office claimed that Ulus participated in a meeting in Iraq on June 4th-14th, 2005, although he actually left Turkey on October 1st, 2004 and returned on June 3rd, 2005. The second alleged meeting took place on July 14th-24th, 2007; however, Ulus flew from Turkey to Alaska, USA on June 17th, 2007, and returned three months later.
2- On the accusation that while Ulus worked in Vatan Newspaper, his articles were published by ANF under the code name ‘Bahoz’: Ersöz stated that Vatan Newspaper informed the court with a petition dated September 13th, 2012 that no article was published in the newspaper under that name. As for the articles published in ANF, a writ was sent to the police to learn whether news stories signed by ‘Bahoz Deniz’ were published in ANF after Ulus was detained on December 24th, 2011, and the police stated that eight news stories were published under that name after that date.
Ersöz said that he indeed found 10 news stories in a Google search. Ersöz explained that it was not possible for these articles to belong to Ulus, who was in prison then. He added that the author named ‘Bahoz Deniz’ penned an article titled “ The KCK Comedy: How Bahoz Deniz became a piece of evidence in an indictment” and read out the article in court. He also submitted evidence showing that this ‘Bahoz Deniz’ followed the ‘KCK Press’ hearings, shared his thoughts on Twitter, and that the police could not determine his identity. He asked that a criminal complaint be filed against the police officers who misled the court claiming that Ulus reported under the name ‘Bahoz Deniz’. The court rejected this request.
3- On the allegedly terror organization-related correspondence and telephone conversations: Ersöz stated that his client Ulus had already presented detailed explanations about this issue and added, “My client was imprisoned for nine months due to the baseless charges in the indictment.”
4- On Ulus’ news stories: Ersöz stated that only some news stories from Ulus’ journalism archive were singled out, first placed in the police report, and then in the indictment.
Saying that the “image” of the electronic materials seized in Ulus’s house was not copied and so no “image copy” was delivered, lawyer Ersöz objected to the police search and seizure procedures for being illicit. He stated that it was not legal to present these as evidence in the indictment, and added “The absence of an effective investigation authority in Turkey, the fact that judicial police has yet to be established, the virtual merger of police and prosecution, and the unfortunate lack of attention, sensitivity and scrutiny by judges active at the investigation stage, have led to the victimization of the defendants in this case.”
At the 29th session on December 6th, 2013, upon a request by Ulus’ lawyers, the court ruled to ask Vatan Newspaper management whether it was possible to log in to their system from outside the newspaper building in 2011.
The 30th hearing of the trial took place on January 13th, 2014. At the time, there was a heated public debate about whether the Courts with Special Authority were going to be abolished. Lawyers argued that this debate made controversial the court which conducted the “KCK Press” trial. Due to this reason, lawyers demanded that the proceedings at Istanbul 15th High Criminal Court be suspended and that the detainees be released. The court rejected this demand.
Courts with Special Authority were indeed abolished with a law that came into force on February 21st, 2014.
The last hearing of the “KCK Press Trial” at İstanbul 15th High Criminal Court with Special Authority was held on March 3rd, 2014. The file was then transferred to the Istanbul 3rd High Criminal Court.
The trial began on July 10th, 2014, at Istanbul 3rd High Criminal Court in Çağlayan Courthouse.
The ban on the traveling abroad of 37 defendants was lifted in the first hearing at Istanbul 3rd High Criminal Court.
At the 10th hearing, the judge ordered that the journalists’ passports be annulled as per a State of Emergency Decree Law
The lawyers said that upon the abolition of Courts with Special Authority, the trial had lost its legal grounding. They argued that the continuation of these proceedings at high criminal courts was against the Constitution. The Istanbul 3rd High Criminal Court indeed referred the file to the Constitutional Court on allegations of unconstitutionality. The court waited for a response from the Constitutional Court for two hearings. The Constitutional Court sent no answer to the court for 16 months. The court then decided to continue the trial.
In the subsequent hearings, the lawyers reiterated their demand for waiting for the Constitutional Court’s ruling and the acquittal of all defendants.
Lawyers said that most of the law enforcement officers, prosecutors and judges involved in the investigation and prosecution of the trial before the trial was transferred to Istanbul 3rd High Criminal Court were now under arrest or on the run after the July 15th military coup attempt. Lawyers demanded that the legal measures taken against these individuals be included in the file. The court accepted this request. However, the court also ruled that all the other investigations and prosecutions concerning the journalists would also be included in the file.
Of the 46 defendants, only İsmet Kayhan, who is on the run, has not presented his defense in court. Even the “evidence assessment” phase has not been completed yet.
Judicial information about the officials involved in the investigation and prosecution phase has yet to be included in the file. İsmet Kayhan has not been arrested.
The 16th hearing of the trial took place on May 9th, 2019, and the 17th on October 22nd, 2019. Lawyer Mehtap Acar Ulus stated that “A police chief (Yunus Dolar), standing trial on charges of being a member of FETÖ and has benefited from the active repentance law, has stated that her client Çağdaş Ulus, was arrested on the basis of falsified evidence.”
Lawyer Ulus also submitted related evidence to the court, and demanded that her client’s file be separated. The court rejected this request.
The 18th hearing was held on February 25th, 2020. Ulus did not attend this hearing.
The 19th hearing of the trial took place on July 2nd. The president of the court stated that the writ sent to the General Secretariat of Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSK) about the progress in the trial was added to the case file. Accordingly, HSK demanded information from the court for the disciplinary investigation against Bilal Bayraktar, a prosecutor dismissed for alleged “membership of the Fethullahist Terror Organization.” Bayraktar was the prosecutor in charge of indictment and hearings at KCK Press Trial. Journalist Çağdaş Ulus’ lawyer Mehtap Acar Ulus stated that her client was included in the trial via manipulation. She demanded that his file be separated from the collective file and Ulus be acquitted. The court ruled to await the execution of the arrest warrant against İsmet Kayhan, who lives abroad.
The 20th hearing was held on December 1st, 2020. Two members of the panel of judges had changed.
Of the defendant journalists, only İsmail Yıldız (Rawin Sterk) attended the hearing. İstanbul 34th High Criminal Court had decided to merge the case file for “membership of an armed terror organization” and “spreading propaganda in a continuous manner for a terror organization” with the case file of the “KCK Press Trial”. The court stated that it had received the said file.
Lawyer Özcan Kılıç demanded the cancellation of İsmail Yıldız’s overseas travel ban. He requested that Yüksel Genç be relieved from the obligation to attend the hearings. The court accepted both requests.
Mehtap Acar Ulus, the lawyer of journalist Çağdaş Ulus, requested that her client’s trial be separated from the main file. The request was rejected.
The court ruled to lift Yüksel Genç’s obligation to attend the hearings.
The trial was adjourned until the 21st hearing on March 4th, 2021.
The prosecution has still not submitted its opinion as to the accusations although trial began in September 2012.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) rejected the journalists’ application concerning this file in November 2019, pointing to non-exhaustion of domestic remedies -namely, the filing of an individual application with the Constitutional Court. However, at the time the journalists were arrested and had filed an application with ECHR, it was not yet possible to file an individual application with the Constitutional Court in Turkey. Therefore, the requirement of exhausting the individual application to the Constitutional Court before applying to ECHR did not exist yet.
Saat 09.50’de başlaması gereken duruşma, yaklaşık 15 dakika gecikmeyle, saat 10.05’te başladı. Mahkeme heyetinden iki üyenin değiştiği gözlendi.
Duruşmaya, yargılanan gazetecilerden sadece İsmail Yıldız (Rawin Sterk) katıldı. İstanbul 34. Ağır Ceza Mahkemesi, Yıldız hakkında “silahlı terör örgütüne üye olmak” ve “zincirleme şekilde terör örgütü propagandası yapmak” suçlaması ile açılan davanın yargılama dosyasının “KCK Basın Davası” yargılama dosyası ile birleştirilmesine karar vermişti. Bu dosyanın mahkemeye geldiği belirtildi.
Duruşma savcısı, dosyadaki eksiklerin giderilmesini talep etti.
Avukat Özcan Kılıç, İsmail Yıldız hakkında uygulanan yurt dışına çıkış yasağının kaldırılmasını talep etti.
Gazeteci Çağdaş Ulus’un avukatı Mehtap Acar Ulus ise, Ulus hakkındaki yargılama dosyasının ana dosyadan ayrılmasını talep etti.
Mahkeme heyeti, duruşmaya kısa bir ara verdi.
Mahkeme, Yüksel Genç’in duruşmalara katılma zorunluluğunun kaldırılmasına karar verdi.
İsmail Yıldız’ın da yurtdışına çıkış yasağının kaldırılmasına karar verildi.
Çağdaş Ulus hakkındaki yargılama dosyasının ayrılması talebi reddedildi.
Yargılamanın, 4 Mart 2021 tarihinde görülecek 21. duruşma ile devam etmesine karar verildi.
Koronavirüs karşısında alınan önlemler kapsamında, adliyeye; tek sıra halinde girilebildi. Bu düzen, bariyerler ve uyarı yazıları ile sağlandı. Ateş ölçümü ve X-Ray taraması yapıldı.
Duruşmanın yapıldığı salonun önü çok kalabalık değildi. Gazetecilerin, duruşma salonunun önünde beklemesi engellenmedi.
Mahkeme Salonu Koşulları
Mahkeme salonunda; gazeteciler, gözlemciler, avukatlar ve sanıklar için hazırlanan yerler birbirinden ayrıydı.
İzleyiciler için ayrılan her iki oturma yerinden biri, koronavirüs karşısında alınan sosyal mesafe önleminin sağlanması için uyarı yazıları ile kapatılmıştı.
Duruşmayı, Medya ve Hukuk Çalışmaları Derneği (MLSA) gözlemcisi ve bazı internet haber sitelerinin muhabirleri takip etti.
Koronavirüs pandemisi karşısında alınan tedbirler kapsamında, gazetecilerin ve gözlemcilerin duruşma salonuna alınmayacağı belirtildi. Ancak, bu sırada duruşma başlamış, gazeteciler ve gözlemciler duruşma salonundaki yerlerini almıştı. Gazeteci ve gözlemcilerin, bir seferliğine duruşmayı izlemelerine izin verildi.
Mahkeme başkanı gergindi. Taleplerini dile getiren Avukat Özcan Kılıç’a karşı iki kez sesini yükseltti.
Duruşma, gelen evrakların tutanağa geçirilmesiyle başladı.
Mahkeme heyeti başkanı; Hakimler ve Savcılar Kurulu (HSK) Genel Sekreterliği’nden bu yargılamanın geldiği aşama ile ilgili bilginin istendiği yazının dosyaya eklendiğini açıkladı. Buna göre, HSK; “Fethullahçı Terör Örgütü üyesi olduğu” iddiasıyla meslekten çıkarılan savcı Bilal Bayraktar ile ilgili disiplin soruşturması için mahkemeden bilgi istiyordu. Savcı Bayraktar, “KCK Basın” yargılamasının soruşturma ve iddianame savcısıydı.
Gazeteci Çağdaş Ulus’un avukatı Mehtap Acar Ulus, Çağdaş Ulus’un bir manipülasyon yoluyla bu davaya dahil edildiğini söyledi. Çağdaş Ulus hakkındaki dosyanın, bu dosyadan ayrılmasını ve Ulus’un beraatini talep etti.
Hakimler ve Savcılar Kurulu‘nun (HSK) savcı Bilal Bayraktar hakkındaki disiplin soruşturması kapsamında, “KCK Basın” yargılamasıyla ilgili gelişmelerin ve kararın HSK Genel Sekreterliği’ne bildirilmesine yönelik yazı, dosyaya eklendi.
“FETÖ üyesi olduğu” iddiasıyla meslekten çıkartılan savcı Bayraktar, “KCK Basın” dosyasının da soruşturma ve iddianame savcısıydı.
Çağdaş Ulus müdafii avukat Mehtap Acar Ulus, müvekkili hakkında beraat talebiyle yazılı beyan sundu. Ulus’un dosyasının KCK Basın dosyasından ayrılmasını talep etti.
Diğer sanık müdafiileri, bu aşamada bir talepleri olmadığını söyledi.
Mahkeme, Çağdaş Ulus’un dosyasının ayrılması yönündeki talebini reddetti.
HSK’nın iddianame savcısı Bilal Bayraktar hakkında yürüttüğü disiplin soruşturması için, yargılamanın her aşamasının HSK Genel Sekreterliği’ne bildirilmesine karar verildi.
Ayrıca, sanıklardan yurtdışında ikamet eden İsmet Kayhan hakkındaki yakalama kararının yerine getirilmesinin beklenmesine karar verildi.
Yargılamanın, 1 Aralık 2020 tarihinde görülecek 20. duruşma ile devam etmesine karar verildi.
Güvenlik görevlisi, bariyerlerin geçilmesine izin verdi. Duruşma öncesi salonun önü boştu. Avukatlar tam duruşma saatinde, salonun önüne geldi.
Avukatlardan birinin beklenmesine karar verildi. Avukatın, o sırada başka bir mahkemede karar beklediği için geciktiği belirtildi.
Duruşma 10 dakika gecikmeli başladı.
Mahkeme Salonu Koşulları
Mahkeme salonunda yaklaşık 25 kişilik oturma alanı vardı. “Koronavirüs” pandemisi karşısında alınan tedbirleri kapsamında, sosyal mesafenin sağlanması için sandalyelere birer aralıkla bantlar çekilmişti.
Duruşmaya, Medya ve Hukuk Çalışmaları Derneği (MLSA) ve Türkiye Gazeteciler Sendikası’ndan gözlemciler katıldı.
Duruşma 18 dakika sürdü.
Pandemi nedeniyle izleme alanında fiziksel mesafe önlemleri alınmıştı ancak salonda bulunan mahkeme başkanı, iki heyet üyesi, savcı ve katip arasında sadece bir mahkeme heyeti üyesi maskesini takıyordu.
Mahkeme başkanı duruşma boyunca mikrofonunu kullanmadı ve kısık sesle konuştu. Söyledikleri izleyiciler tarafından duyulmadı.
Duruşma öngörülen saatten 10 dakika sonra başladı, karar için verilen 5 dakikalık ara dahil, toplam 35 dakika sürdü.
Duruşmaya, Ses ve Görüntülü Bilişim Sistemi (SEGBİS) ile katılması beklenen Yüksel Genç, mahkeme salonunda hazır bulundu. Genç, yaptığı savunmayı ayrıca yazılı olarak da sundu.
Genç savunmasında, hakkında İstanbul 14. Ağır Ceza Mahkemesi’nde görülen ve daha sonra “KCK Basın” ile birleştirilen dosyanın iddianamesine tepki gösterdi. Demokratik Toplum Kongresi (DTK) kuruculuğuyla suçlandığı bu dosyadaki deliller arasında hakkındaki teknik takip delillerinin de gösterildiğini, ancak kendisinin o tarihlerde “KCK Basın” davasından tutuklu olduğunu açıkladı.
DTK’da 2009-2011 arası görev yaptığını ve DTK’nın yasadışı bir yapı olmadığını söyledi, suçlamaları reddetti. TBMM Anayasa Komisyonu’nun DTK’dan resmi olarak görüş istediğine dair belgeyi mahkemeye sundu.
Sanıklardan Hüseyin Deniz de salonda hazır bulundu. Deniz bu aşamada söyleyecek bir şeyi olmadığını ifade etti.
Ardından Çağdaş Ulus’un avukatlığını üstlenen eşi sözü aldı. Ulus’la 5 senedir tanıştıklarını, çocuklarının 1 yaşında olduğunu ancak bu davanın halen devam ettiğini söyledi. Ayrıca eşi Ulus’un 2011’de gözaltına alınmadan birkaç ay önce zorunlu askerlik hizmetini yerine getirdiğini anlattı; teröristlikle suçlanmasına tepki gösterdi. Dosyasının ayrılmasını talep etti.
Ardından söz alan diğer tüm sanıklar müdafii Özcan Kılıç, öncelikle Yüksel Genç’in duruşmalardan vareste tutulmasını talep etti. Sanıklardan Ziya Çiçekçi hakkında açılan başka bir dosyanın birleştirilmesini de istedi.
Kılıç, müvekkillerinin DTK üyesi olmakla suçlandığını, ancak DTK’nın yasadığı bir yapı olmadığını anlattı. DTK’nın yasadışı bir örgüt olup olmadığının tespit edilmesini talep etti.
Avukat Kılıç, “KCK Basın’ dosyasının soruşturma aşamasında gözaltına alınan, o dönem AFP (Agence France Presse, Fransız Haber Ajansı) muhabiri Mustafa Özer’in MİT ajanı olduğunun ortaya çıktığını” iddia etti. İlk başta şüpheli listesinde yer alan ancak şu an dosyada bulunmayan Özer’in mahkeme huzurunda dinlenmesini talep etti.
Mahkeme karar için 5 dakika ara verdi.
Mahkeme sanıkların ve müdafilerinin tüm taleplerini reddetti.
İsmet Kayhan hakkındaki yakalama emrinin infazının beklenmesine karar verdi.
Bir sonraki duruşma 2 Temmuz 2020 saat 10.00’da görülecek.
Duruşmadan birkaç dakika önce polis barikatı açılarak gazetecilerin salon önüne geçişine izin verildi.
Mahkeme Salonu Koşulları
Mahkeme salonu yaklaşık 30 kişilikti. Mahkeme başkanı mikrofon kullanmadı ve duruşmada konuşulan hiçbir şey izleyici bölümünden duyulmadı.
Duruşmaya sanık müdafii olarak sekiz avukat katıldı. Duruşmayı; Gazetecileri Koruma Komitesi (CPJ), P24 ve Medya ve Hukuk Çalışmaları Derneği (MLSA) temsilcileri takip etti.
Duruşma öngörülen saatten 10 dakika sonra başladı, karar için verilen 5 dakikalık ara dahil, toplam 35 dakika sürdü.
Duruşma devam ederken, bir sonraki duruşmanın SEGBİS bağlantısı kuruldu ve SEGBİS’le bağlanan kişi kendi duruşmasını bekledi.
Duruşma esnasında mahkeme başkanının sanıklardan Yüksel Genç’e “sen” diyerek hitap etmesine bir avukat itiraz etti. Mahkeme başkanı “Bu sen-siz tartışması yıllardır sürüyor” dedi ve “sen” ifadesinin sıkıntılı bir ifade olmadığını söyleyerek duruşmaya devam etti.
Mahkeme karar için ara verdiğinde salon boşaltıldı. Ancak savcının salonda oturuyordu. 5 dakika sonra salonun kapısı açıldı. Mahkeme başkanının bir sonraki duruşma tarihini söylemesiyle duruşma sona erdi. Mahkeme başkanı erkek, heyetin iki üyesi kadın hakimdi.
Bir önceki duruşmada, sanıklardan Yüksel Genç hakkında İstanbul 14. Ağır Ceza Mahkemesi’nde görülen dosyanın KCK Basın dosyasıyla birleştirilmesi talebi, İstanbul 3. Ağır Ceza Mahkemesi tarafından reddedilmişti.
İki duruşma arasında, İstinaf Mahkemesi; Genç hakkındaki iki dosyanın İstanbul 3. Ağır Ceza Mahkemesi’nde birleştirilmesine resen karar verdi.
Yargılamanın 17. duruşması, bu kararın dosyaya eklenmesiyle başladı. Yeni dosya eklendiği için Genç’in tekrar savunma sunması istendi. Avukat Özcan Kılıç, Genç’in savunması için Diyarbakır’da hazır edileceğini ifade etti.
Sanıklardan Ziya Çiçekçi hakkında, “terör örgütü yayınlarını basmak ve yayınlamak” suçlamasıyla İstanbul 15. Ağır Ceza Mahkemesi’nde görülen dosyanın İstanbul 3. Ağır Ceza Mahkemesi’nde birleştirilmesi için muvafakat (kabul etme) yazısı geldi. Avukat Özcan Kılıç da dosyaların birleştirilmesi talebinde bulundu.
Avukat Mehtap Acar Ulus, FETÖ suçlamasıyla yargılanan ve etkin pişmanlıktan yararlanan bir emniyet müdürünün, müvekkili Çağdaş Ulus’un sahte delillerle tutuklandığına dair ifadelerinin olduğunu belirtti ve bu konudaki delilleri mahkemeye sundu. Müvekkili Ulus’un dosyasının ayrılmasını talep etti.
Mahkeme, sanıklardan Yüksel Genç’in bir sonraki duruşmada savunmasını Ses ve Görüntü Bilişim Sistemi üzerinden (SEGBİS) sunmak üzere Diyarbakır’da bir mahkemede hazır edilmesi için talimat yazılmasına karar verdi.
Çağdaş Ulus’un dosyasının ayrılması yönündeki talebi reddetti. Ziya Çiçekçi’nin dosyasının birleştirilmesi talebini de reddetti.
İsmet Kayhan hakkındaki yakalama kararının infazının beklenmesine de karar veren mahkeme bir sonraki duruşmanın 25 Şubat 2020 saat 10.30’da görüleceğini açıkladı.
Duruşma öncesi gazetecilerin bir kısmının barikattan geçip mahkeme salonu önünde beklemesine izin verildi.
Mahkeme salonu önü kalabalıklaştıktan sonra ise barikattan geçişler kapatıldı. İki gazetecinin salon önüne yaklaşkasına duruşma başladığı ana kadar izin verilmedi.
Gazeteciler ve güvenlik görevlileri arasında tartışma yaşandı. Gazetecilerden biri, güvenlik görevlisine “keyfi davrandığını” söyledi. Bunun üzerine güvenlik görevlisi barikatı kapatarak “Sadece senin geçişine izin vermiyorum, keyfi değil mi” dedi.
Duruşmanın başlamasıyla, güvenlik şefi gelerek, gazetecilerin içeri girişini sağladı.
Mahkeme Salonu koşulları
Mahkeme salonu katılımcı sayısına göre genişti. Mahkeme başkanı mikrofon kullanmadı ve duruşmada konuşulan hiçbir şey izleyici bölümünden duyulmadı.
Duruşmaya sanık müdafii olarak altı avukat katıldı. Duruşmayı, P24 ve Medya ve Hukuk Çalışmaları Derneği (MLSA) temsilcileri ve gazeteciler takip etti.
Duruşma öngörülen saatten 40 dakika sonra başladı, 25 dakika sürdü.
Salona girdikten sonra yaklaşık 10 dakika boyunca mahkeme katibi dosyayla ilgili telefonda konuştu. İzleyici bölümünden sadece “Burası terör mahkemesi değil” cümlesi duyuldu.
Avukatlar, konuşmanın; sanıklardan Yüksel Genç’in İstanbul 14. Ağır Ceza Mahkemesi’nde açılan dava dosyasının KCK Basın dosyasıyla birleştirilmesiyle ilgili olduğunu açıkladı.
Duruşma başladığında, avukatlardan biri başka bir adliyede de duruşması olduğu için ayrılacağını ifade etti. Bunun üzerine mahkeme başkanı öfkelendi, birkaç dakikalık bir tartışma yaşandı.
Mahkeme karar için ara verdiğinde salon boşaltıldı. Beş dakika sonra salonun kapısı açıldı. Mahkeme başkanının bir sonraki duruşma tarihini söylemesiyle duruşma sona erdi.
Mahkeme heyeti üyelerinden biri değişmişti. Mahkeme başkanı erkek, heyetin iki üyesi kadın hakimdi.
Mahkeme Başkanı, mikrofon kullanmadığı için 10 dakika süren duruşma boyunca katılımcılar çok az şey duyabildi.
Daha sonra duruşma tutanağından edinilen bilgiye göre, İstanbul İl Emniyet Müdürlüğü’nün sanık Dilek Demiral’ın pasaportu üzerindeki şerhin kaldırılması şeklindeki işlemlerin devam ettiği yönünde cevabı dosyaya eklendi.
Ayrıca “KCK Basın” soruşturmasını yürüten emniyet görevlileri hakkında görevi kötüye kullanma suçlamasıyla İstanbul 26. Asliye Ceza Mahkemesinde görülen yargılamanın devam ettiğine dair cevap ve duruşma zaptı örneği de mahkemeye ulaştı. Avukat Özcan Kılıç, Ocak 2019’da görülen bir önceki duruşmada bu davanın akıbetinin öğrenilmesini talep etmişti.
Mahkeme Başkanı, sanıklardan Yüksel Genç hakkında İstanbul 14. Ağır Ceza Mahkemesi’nde bir dava açıldığını ve İstanbul 14. Ağır Ceza Mahkemesi’nin kendilerine birleştirme kararı gönderdiğini söyledi. Mahkeme Başkanı, İstanbul 3. Ağır Ceza Mahkemesi heyeti olarak birleştirmeye onay vermediklerini söyledi.
Duruşma savcısı, bu duruşmada da esas hakkındaki mütalaasını açıklamadı; eksiklerin giderilmesini mütalaa etti.
Mahkeme ara vermeden, kararını açıkladı.
Sanıklardan Yüksel Genç hakkında İstanbul 14. Ağır Ceza Mahkemesi’nde açılan davanın İstanbul 3. Ağır Ceza Mahkemesi’ndeki dosyayla birleştirilmesini kabul etmeyen mahkeme, dosyayı İstanbul Bölge Adliye Mahkemesi’ne gönderdi.
Bir sonraki duruşmanın 22 Ekim 2019 saat 10.00’a bırakılmasına karar verildi.
Avukatlar ve iki muhabirin salona girmesinin ardından salonun kapısı kapandı. Kapı kapandıktan sonra gelen izleyicilerin içeri alınmasına zorluk çıkarıldı.
Duruşmaya altı avukat katıldı. Duruşmayı; P24, Medya ve Hukuk Çalışmaları Derneği (MLSA) ve Türkiye Gazeteciler Sendikası’ndan temsilciler ve muhabirler takip etti.
Mahkeme başkanı mikrofon kullanmadığı için, izleyici alanından sadece, sanıklardan Yüksel Genç’in dosyası ile ilgili konuşmalar ve bir sonraki duruşma tarihi duyulabildi.
Duruşma 10 dakika sürdü.
Duruşma saatinde başladı ve 10 dakika sürdü.
Avukat Özcan Kılıç “KCK Basın” soruşturmasını yürüten emniyet görevlileri hakkında “görevi kötüye kullanma” suçlamasıyla İstanbul 26. Asliye Ceza Mahkemesi’nde açılan davanın akıbetinin öğrenilmesini talep etti.
“KCK Basın” soruşturmasını yürüten emniyet görevlileri hakkında “görevi kötüye kullanma” suçlamasıyla İstanbul 26. Asliye Ceza Mahkemesi’nde açılan davanın akıbetinin sorulmasına karar verildi.
Dava, 9 Mayıs 2019 gününe bırakıldı.
Duruşma öngörülen saatte başladı. Öncesinde sanık gazeteciler ile duruşmayı takibe gelen gazeteciler sohbet etti. Duruşma öncesi herhangi bir destek açıklaması yapılmadı.
Mahkeme Salonu Koşulları
Mahkeme salonu katılımcı sayısına göre genişti. Mahkeme başkanı mikrofon kullanmadı ve sözleri katılımcılar tarafından duyulmadı.
Duruşmaya iki sanık ve dokuz avukat katıldı. Dört muhabir duruşmayı haber/rapor amacıyla takip etti.
Duruşma yıllardır sürdüğü, halen esas hakkında mütalaa verilmediği ve davada ilerleme olmadığı için duruşmaya katılım çok düşüktü.
“KCK Press” Trial 15. Standing (Minutes of the Hearing)
“KCK Press” Trial 16. Standing (Minutes of the Hearing)
“KCK Press” Trial 17. Standing (Minutes of the Hearing)
“KCK Press” Trial 18. Standing (Minutes of the Hearing)
“KCK Press” Trial 19. Standing (Minutes of the Hearing)
“KCK Press” Trial 20. Standing (Minutes of the Hearing)
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