Canan Coşkun started her professional career at the Cumhuriyet newspaper in February 2012. Coşkun is a freelance journalist.
She terminated her contract in September 2018. She covered investigations into the corruption charges and trials regarding the Fethullahist structure, as well as trials on freedom of the press and freedom of expression.
She was awarded the Progressive Journalists Association’s Mustafa Ekmekçi Reporting Award (2016), the Metin Göktepe Journalism Award (2017) and the EU Investigative Journalism Awards Young Journalist Award (2016).
Coşkun was prosecuted for her reports on the testimonies of the lawyers who were arrested in the scope of the investigation against the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front [a far-leftist organization called Devrimci Halk Kurtuluş Partisi-Cephesi - DHKP-C]. The Istanbul 26th High Criminal Court charged Coşkun for “disclosing or publishing the identities of state officials that were assigned in the fight against terrorism” and sentenced her to two years and three months in prison. The prosecution process continues.
Also, following a complaint filed by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan against Coşkun’s report titled: “Erdoğan Ordered, Journalism was Arrested” [“Erdoğan Buyurdu, Gazetecilik Tutuklandı,” published in the Cumhuriyet newspaper on Nov. 27, 2015] Coşkun was charged for “insulting the President of the Republic.” The next hearing of the trial will be held on June 20, 2019.
Coşkun is also being tried for another article of hers for the crime of “identifying officials on anti-terror duties as targets”.
Coşkun is also being tried for her article published at Cumhuriyet Daily’s edition of March 11th, 2016 with the title of “The police officer accused of shooting Berkin Elvan could not remember his place of duty”. She is claimed to have disclosed the identity of a police officer on the ongoing death of Berkin Elvan investigation and is accused of “identifying officials on anti-terror duties as targets”.
Berkin Elvan was killed during Gezi Park protests in 2013 when a tear gas canister fired by the police had hit his head.
The lawyer of the Secretariat General of The Presidency and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan filed a complaint against Canan Coşkun’s reporting titled “Erdoğan Ordered, Journalism was Arrested” which was published in the Cumhuriyet newspaper on Nov. 27, 2015. In the reporting which was about the detention of Can Dündar and Erdem Gül due to the report on MİT trucks,’ it was noted that the compliant file was President Erdoğan’s. In the report, it was alleged President Erdoğan made the complaint that resulted in the pretrial detention of Can Dündar and Erdem Gül as a result of their reporting on the MIT trucks.
The Ankara Public Prosecutor’s Office ruled for lack of jurisdiction. The Istanbul Public Prosecutor’s Office took over the file. The Ministry of Justice permitted the launch of a prosecution with the charge of “insulting the President of the Republic.”
The indictment against Coşkun was completed on November 13, 2017.
Istanbul Public Prosecutor’s Office Press Offences Bureau issued the indictment. In the indictment, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was the “plaintiff”, the Secretariat General of the Presidency was the “denouncer.”
Canan Coşkun was accused of “insulting the President of the Republic.” The prosecuted report was about the arrest of the former editor-in-chief of the Cumhuriyet newspaper Can Dündar and the Ankara correspondent of the Cumhuriyet newspaper Erdem Gül due to their reporting on MİT trucks. In her reporting, Coşkun wrote the complaint file was Erdoğan’s.
In the indictment, it was noted that the lawyer of the Secretariat General of the Presidency and Erdoğan filed a complaint and claimed Coşkun was “using expressions insulting the President of the Republic” in her report titled “Erdoğan Ordered, Journalism Was Arrested.” In the indictment, the prosecutor used phrases as “… regarding the file that our respected President himself filed a complaint about.”
In the indictment, some parts of the report were copy-pasted. The prosecutor claimed that “by emphasizing the President was handling the case like his case, Coşkun claimed in her report that the President acted in hostility and gave unlawful orders.” Even though the time limit for the prosecution was exceeded, the prosecutor stated “the report was published online, so it cannot be subjected to the time limit.”
The Constitutional Status of the President and explanations on freedom of expression were noted in the indictment. The prosecutor claimed that “through the use of offensive, exaggerated phrases, the report exceeded its rights and duties, and it has a characteristic that could be damaging the dignity, honor, and prestige of the President who represents the unity of the nation and the Constitutional head of the state” and, recommended to sentence Coşkun.
The first hearing of the trial was held in the Istanbul 40th Criminal Court of First Instance on Jan. 24, 2019. Canan Coşkun didn’t attend the hearing. Coşkun’s lawyer Abbas Yalçın said his client was judicial reporter, the responsibility of publishing a report belongs to the editorial board of the newspaper.
Noting Coşkun didn’t have any responsibility, Yalçın demanded the charges be dropped. In addition, he emphasized the indictment was issued two years after the reporting and according to the Press Law’s Article 26, the time limit for prosecution was four months after publication Yalçın demanded Coşkun to be acquitted immediately.
The presiding judge ruled for Coşkun’s to appear before the court in the next hearing, in which the court would reach a verdict on the demands of dropping the charges and request for acquittal. The next hearing was set for June 20, 2019.
Duruşma, belirlendiği gibi 10.50’de başladı.
Coşkun, Cumhuriyet Gazetesi’nin eski adliye muhabiri olduğunu belirterek şunları söyledi:
“Can Dündar ve Erdem Gül’ün tutuklandığı gün haberi yazıp şefime gönderdim. Ertesi gün gazetenin 1. sayfasındaki başlık ‘Basının kara günü’ idi. İçerideki başlık farklıydı. Hiçbir muhabirin gazetenin birinci sayfasındaki ve internetteki başlığa müdahale yetkisi yoktur.”
Coşkun’un avukatı Abbas Yalçın ise davanın, haberin yayımlanmasından iki yıl sonra açıldığını söyledi ve beraat talep etti.
Mahkeme, Coşkun’un beraatine karar verdi.
Beraat kararı, “eylemin kanunda belirtilen maddeye uymadığı böylece tipiklik unsurunu taşımadığı” gerekçesine dayandırıldı.
Duruşma saatine yakın Canan Çoşkun’un gazeteci arkadaşları salon önünde bekliyordu. Duruşma belirlenen saatinde başladı.
Mahkeme Salonu Koşulları
Mahkemenin görüleceği duruşma salonu çok küçüktü. İzleyenler bölümünde 8 sandalye bulunuyordu.
Duruşmada, Canan Coşkun ve avukatı Abbas Yalçın hazır bulunuyordu. Bağımsız Gazetecilik Platformu (P24), Medya ve Hukuk Çalışmaları Derneği temsilcilerinin yanı sıra, Agos Gazetesi muhabiri de duruşmayı izledi.
Beş dakika kadar süren duruşmada olağanüstü bir durum yaşanmadı.
Duruşma saatinde başladı, 10 dakika sürdü.
Canan Coşkun duruşmaya katılmadı.
Coşkun’un avukatı Abbas Yalçın, Coşkun’un; Cumhuriyet Gazetesi’nun adliye muhabiri olduğunu, haberin gazetede ve internette yayınlanmasıyla ilgili kararın gazetenin yazıişlerinin sorumluluğunda olduğunu ve gazeteci Coşkun’un bu konuda bir sorumluluğu olmadığını söyleyerek, düşme kararı alınmasını talep etti.
Ayrıca, iddianamenin düzenlenmesi ve kabul kararının haberin yayınlanmasından 2 sene sonra gerçekleştiğini ancak Basın Kanunu’nun 26. Maddesinin kovuşturma için dava açma süresini 4 ay olarak belirlediğini vurgulayan Yalçın, derhal beraat talep etti.
Hakim, düşme ve derhal beraat taleplerine bir sonraki celse karar verilmesine ve bu celseye sanığın da hazır edilmesine karar verdi.
Davaya 20 Haziran 2019 günü saat 10:50’de devam edilecek.
Duruşma öncesi herhangi bir destek açıklaması yapılmadı.
Mahkeme Salonu Koşulları
Salonda izleyiciler için yeteri kadar oturma alanı bulunmuyordu. Mahkeme başkanının ayakta izleyici istemediğini söylemesi üzerine, sandalyelere ikişer kişi oturarak yer açıldı, yine yer kalmayınca birkaç kişi dışarı çıktı.
Duruşmaya sadece sanık gazetecinin avukatı ile Evrensel gazetesi, P24 ve üç muhabir katıldı.
Canan Coşkun reported a story about the lawyers of Nuriye Gülmen and Semih Özakça, two dismissed teachers who went on hunger strike in order to get back their jobs on Sept. 20, 2017.
In her reporting about the lawyers’ testimonies in the prosecutor’s office, Coşkun cited from the prosecutor’s official report and published the testimony of B.E., a prisoner who was one of the witnesses in the case.
Afterwards, an investigation against Coşkun was conducted.
In her testimony at the prosecutor’s office, Coşkun emphasized she was a court reporter. She said that by mentioning the names of the prosecutor and witness in her report, she didn’t have the intention to point them out as targets for the terrorist organizations.
She said that she didn’t have criminal intent and denied the accusation.
Istanbul Public Prosecutor’s Office issued the indictment on April 5, 2018. The prosecutor charged Canan Coşkun for “disclosing the identities of a person assigned in the fight against terrorism” (Anti-Terror Law Article 6/1, TPC 53/1, 58/9).
The indictment began with the operation against the lawyers. It was stated that the suspects were arrested in the scope of “an investigation against DHKP/C [the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front].”
In the indictment, the reports of T24 and the Cumhuriyet newspaper, which were published on the same day, were listed.
In the indictment, the following was cited from the Cumhuriyet newspaper’s report:
“The prosecutor’s office put the name of a prisoner, (B.E.) in the file against the lawyers. The prosecutor’s office’s accusations were based on E.’s testimony as ‘the lawyers were following the trials of Berkin Elvan, Dilek Doğan, Hasan Ferit Gedik, the Sabancı assassination, Nuriye Gülmen and Semih Özakça’.”
In the indictment, it was noted the Public Prosecutor’s Office launched an investigation. The prosecutor claimed “the report compromised the confidentiality of the investigation and disclosed the identity of B.E. and his family, and pointed them out as targets for the terrorist organizations.”
In the indictment, it was noted the access to the report’s URL was banned by a court, and as a result of the investigation, Coşkun was identified as the reporter.
In the indictment, Coşkun’s testimony was summarized. In her testimony, Coşkun emphasized she was a court reporter. She said that by mentioning the names of the prosecutor and witness in her report, she didn’t have the intention to point them out as targets for the terrorist organizations. She said she didn’t have criminal intent and denied the accusation.
At the end of the two-page indictment, the prosecutor’s office recommended to charge and sentence Coşkun in accordance with the applicable article.
The first hearing of the trial was held at the Istanbul 26th High Criminal Court on June 6, 2018. Canan Coşkun defended herself in the first hearing.
Coşkun reiterated she wrote her report based on the testimony report, which she received from the attorneys. She noted that according to the official report, the prosecutor asked questions based on the testimony of (B.E.), and one of them was a question regarding their positions as lawyers of the families of Dilek Doğan, Hasan Ferit Gedik and Berkin Elvan [Three individuals who were killed by police forces]. Coşkun said she reported on this connection.
Stating she wrote the witness’ name as it was in the official report, “If the name were a codename, I would have reported it as a codename,” Coşkun said.
Denying the accusation of revealing (B.E.’s) family name, Coşkun noted to disclose an identity, a newspaper must have published his photo, yet only his name was mentioned in the report.
Coşkun denied the accusation of compromising the investigation’s confidentiality and opposed the accusation of disclosing the prosecutor’s name in the report by saying there isn’t any journalist that has been sued for writing a prosecutor’s name. She pleaded not guilty and asked to be acquitted.
Coşkun’s lawyer Bülent Utku said that if (B.E.) was an anonymous witness, he should have been taken under protection and it was the prosecutor’s responsibility. Utku noted that in the official report, which his client’s report was based on, (E.’s) name was listed as a witness, and mentioning it in the article didn’t compromise the investigation’s confidentiality.
The presiding prosecutor explained his opinion on the accusations on July 10, 2018, and recommended to sentence Coşkun for the crimes.
The final hearing of the trial was held on July 19, 2018. In her defense against the prosecutor’s opinion on the accusations, Coşkun said:
“I have been working as a court reporter for the Cumhuriyet newspaper since 2013 and covering important cases.”
“The testimonies of Erhan Tuncel and Ogün Samast, who were the witnesses of the Hrant Dink’s [An Armenian journalist assassinated in 2007] case during the investigation process, were published in the newspaper and news websites.”
“This is not the first investigation with confidentiality that I have covered. None of my reports were accused of compromising an investigation’s confidentiality. I will continue to do my job because I believe it is a necessity for the collective memory.”
“Another claim by the prosecutor was disclosing the identities of (B.E.) and his family and pointing them out as targets for the terrorist organizations. According to the prosecutor, I exposed (E.) and his family. How I did is unknown. There wasn’t any photo or description in the report. No word mentioned the family.”
“In addition to these issues, the prosecutor noted (B.E.) benefited from the effective remorse law and contributed to exposing the organization’s activities. In his testimony at the prosecutor’s office, whose official report was the base of my report, there wasn’t any mention of the effective remorse law. Therefore, I couldn’t know something that wasn’t already written in the official report.”
“In sum, I have written numerous reports on investigations under confidentiality. None of them were subjected to a prosecution. I didn’t commit any crime, thus I demand my acquittal.”
In his statement against the prosecutor’s opinion on the accusations, Coşkun’s lawyer Bülent Utku emphasized the person who was allegedly “pointed out as target” wasn’t “a state official assigned in the fight against terrorism,” and continued:
“(B.E.) is not a public official. The public official is described in TPC 6. Ercen is not a public official, therefore, there isn’t any element of a crime.”
In addition to these statements, Utku underlined the prosecutor’s office didn’t explain how mentioning (E.’s) name could “compromise the investigation,” and added:
“My client wrote her story based on the prosecutor’s office’s official report. In the official report, some of the names were taken out, but (B.E.) was mentioned as a witness. Expecting our client to take the precautions, which the prosecutors didn’t, and recommending to sentence her for the notion “she should have [taken precautions]” is out of place. If it were necessary, the prosecutor would have protected (B.E.), but they didn’t feel the need.”
Noting press freedom is under the protection of the Constitution and European Court of Human Rights, “The fact my client based her story on the official report shows the existence of journalistic activity. Considering my client’s intent to practice journalism, we demand her acquittal,” Utku said.
Another lawyer defending Coşkun, Abbas Yalçın, reiterated there were several reports on (B.E.) before Coşkun’s story was published:
“(B.E.)’s father requested the Police Department to rescue his son from the organization in 2012. Regarding this incident, the Star newspaper made a story by publishing the photographs of both (B.E.) and his father. In the same year, when (B.E.) was taken into custody, some of the reports mentioned this incident and published the photos.”
“Anadolu Agency [news agency run by the Turkish state] also published a story similar to my client’s and they also mentioned (B.E.’s) name. Why is it that when the Cumhuriyet newspaper published (B.E.’s) name, he became a person assigned in the fight against terrorism, but when AA or any other news agency published it, he was considered a normal person?”
The presiding Judge and other court members, reached a verdict to charge Canan Coşkun for “disclosing or publishing the identities of state officials assigned in the fight against terrorism” (Turkish Anti-Terror Law Article 6/1) stating her behavior “showed no remorse,” and reduced the punishment, sentencing her for two years and three months in prison.
An investigation launched following the news at Cumhuriyet and BirGün Daily regarding the investigation about murder of Berkin Elvan during Gezi Protests.
Both of the articles subject to the investigation were published at March 11th, 2016, at Cumhuriyet Daily with the title “The police officer accused of shooting Berkin Elvan could not remember his place of duty” and at BirGün Daily with the title “Confidentiality order of Berkin investigation caused not to disrepute the murderer”.
Berkin Elvan was killed during Gezi Park protests in 2013 when a tear gas canister fired by the police had hit his head.
Journalists were accused of disclosing the identity of one of the police officers, suspect of the Elvan murder investigation.
Cumhuriyet reporter Ali Açar, former Cumhuriyet reporter Canan Coşkun and BirGün reporter Can Uğur were accused of “identifying officials that were on anti-terror duties as targets” by making these news.
The indictment that accused journalists Canan Coşkun, Ali Açar and Can Uğur of “identifying officials that were on anti-terror duties as targets” was prepared by Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office. 3-page-long indictment was completed and presented to the court at November 21st, 2019.
Journalists were accused of disclosing the identity of one of the police officers, suspect in the investigation of murder of Berkin Elvan during Gezi Protests.
Prosecutor mentioned the titles of the articles subject of the indictment. Articles were published at March 11th, 2016, at Cumhuriyet Daily with the title “The police officer accused of shooting Berkin Elvan could not remember his place of duty” and at BirGün Daily with the title “Confidentiality order of Berkin investigation caused not to disrepute the murderer”.
Indictment also included the journalists statements at the prosecutors office during the investigation.
Coşkun stated that they did not disclose the surname of the officer and the photo was published in a manner to hide his identity and denied the accusations.
Prosecutor argued that the article on Cumhuriyet Daily about murder of Elvan had the name of the officer written as E.Y. and he was identifiable from the photo.
Prosecutor, claimed that “Berkin Elvan’s death was exploited by some terrorist organisations” and the aforementioned articles “suspect officer was put on target for left organisations” and argued that Coşkun had committed the crime of “identifying officials that were on anti-terror duties as targets”, regulated by the article 6/1 of the Anti-Terror Law.
Coşkun was requested to be punished for the accused crimes from 1 year to 3 years of imprisonment and also to be bereaved of specific rights according to the article 53 Turkish Penal Code.
The trial of journalists Canan Coşkun, Ali Açar and Can Uğur was to start with the first hearing on April 9, 2020, at Istanbul 34th Assize Court. However the hearing was postponed to September 17, 2020 due to the measures taken against the “coronavirus” outbreak in Turkey.
Saat 09.50’de başlaması gereken duruşma, yaklaşık 20 dakika gecikmeyle, saat 10.10’da başladı.
Gazeteciler Canan Coşkun, duruşmaya avukatı Abbas Yalçın ile; gazeteci Can Uğur ise duruşmaya, avukatı Tolgay Güvercin ile birlikte katıldı.
Ali Açar duruşmaya katılmadı. Açar’ı, duruşmada; avukatı Buket Yazıcı temsil etti.
Can Uğur, savunmasında; “Yaptığım haberde kişinin kimlik bilgileri ifşa edilmemiş. Haber incelendiği zaman kimliğinin ifşa edilmediği görülecektir. Yapmış olduğum haber dosyadaki gizlilik kararı ile alakalı. Avukatlardan görüş alarak yaptığım bir haber. Herhangi bir isim kullanmadım, herhangi bir kamu görevlisini hedef göstermedim” dedi.
Canan Coşkun da savunmasında söz konusu haberi yayımladıkları zaman Berkin Elvan’ın vurulmasının üzerinden üç yıl geçtiğini kaydederek, “Haber fikri takibin bir parçasıdır. Dosyadan, kişinin ifadesini buldum. Onu yayınladım. Polisin kimliğini açığa çıkarmak kastı ile haber yapmadım, habercilik etiği çerçevesinde haberi yaptım. Üzerime atılı suçlamayı kabul etmiyorum. Kamu yararı olduğu için haberi yaptım” dedi.
Duruşma savcısı, dosyadaki eksiklerin giderilmesini talep etti.
Hakim, duruşmanın; Ali Açar’ın savunmasının alınması için ertelenmesine karar verdi.
Mahkeme, İstanbul Emniyet Müdürlüğü’nden; haberlerde işaret edilen polisin Berkin Elvan’ın öldürülme tarihinde hangi birimde çalıştığının öğrenilmesine karar verdi.
Mahkeme, bir de Emniyet Müdürlüğü Siber Suçlarla Mücadele Şube Müdürlüğü’ne yazı yazılarak; “Berkin Elvan’ın öldürülmesi olayının herhangi bir terör örgütü tarafından sahiplenip sahiplenilmediğine” ilişkin bilgi istenmesine karar verdi.
Yargılamanın, 10 Kasım 2020 tarihinde görülecek üçüncü duruşma ile devam etmesine karar verildi.
İstanbul’daki Çağlayan Adliyesi’ne, koronavirüs pandemisi karşısında alınan önlemler kapsamında ateş ölçümü yapılarak ve X-Ray cihazından geçildikten sonra girildi. Gazetecilerin, duruşma salonunun bulunduğu koridora geçiş yapmasına izin verildi.
Mahkeme Salonu Koşulları
Mahkeme salonunda, gözlemciler ve gazeteciler için 18 kişilik oturma yeri ayrılmıştı. Salonda ayrıca taraf avukatları ve sanıklar içinde yer ayrıldı.
Koronavirüs pandemisi karşısında alınan önlemler kapsamında her iki oturma yerinden birine uyarı yazıları asılmıştı.
Duruşmayı; Bağımsız Gazetecilik Platformu (P24) ve Medya Hukuk Çalışmaları Derneği (MLSA) gözlemcileri takip etti.
Duruşmada olağanüstü bir gelişme yaşanmadı.
Duruşma; pandemi ilan edilen “coronavirüs” salgını karşısında Türkiye’de alınan tedbirler nedeniyle ertelendi.
Bir sonraki duruşma 17 Eylül 2020 tarihine ertelendi.
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