Cemal Azmi Kalyoncu was born in Rize in 1972. He graduated from the Faculty of Communication at Istanbul University in 1994. He started working at the now-closed Zaman newspaper a year before his graduation. He started working as the economics editor for Aksiyon magazine, of which he was among the founders, in 1995.
Zaman newspaper and Aksiyon magazine were closed down by statutory decrees that were put into effect as part of the State of Emergency rule declared following the military coup attempt on 15 July 2016. During the state of emergency period, the government shut down many media outlets by statutory decrees that were put into effect without the parliament’s approval.
Kalyoncu was granted the interview award by the Writers Union of Turkey in 1999. He is the author of books titled Saklı Hayatlar [Hidden Lives], Derin Gazeteciler [Embedded Journalists], Paranın Efendileri [Masters of the Money] and Nurlu Hayatlar [Radiant Lives].
Kalyoncu was detained on 26 July 2016 on allegations of “being affiliated with FETÖ media structure” as part of the investigation launched by the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office of Istanbul. He was placed in custody on 30 July 2016 on the charge of “membership of an armed organisation”. Kalyoncu was taken to the Silivri Closed High Security Prison.
He spent approximately six months in prison awaiting the indictment to be prepared. The indictment, which was completed on 16 January 2017, charged him with “membership of an armed organisation”. The prosecution demanded that Kalyoncu be sentenced to imprisonment of between five years and 10 years.
Kalyoncu was released pending trial at the first hearing of the trial on 31 March 2017. However, before having been released from prison, he was detained again over the prosecutor’s objection.
At the end of the trial, Kalyoncu was sentenced to imprisonment of six years and three months on the charge of “membership of an armed terrorist organisation” on 8 March 2018.
The court of appeals approved the imprisonment sentence on 22 October 2018. However, the Court of Cassation overturned the imprisonment sentence on 16 March 2020.
A retrial of Kalyoncu’s case then began. Kalyoncu was released on 15 June 2020 with the ruling of the local court that had previously ruled for imprisonment sentence, which was subsequently overturned by the Court of Cassation. Kalyoncu had been in prison for three years and 10 months when he was released.
Journalist Cemal Azmi Kalyoncu was sentenced to six years and three months in prison within the scope of the trial known as the “”FETÖ’s Media Organization Trial.”
Following the overturning of the sentences concerning the eight journalists, including Kalyoncu, by the Court of Cassation, the file was returned to the 25th High Criminal Court of Istanbul for retrial.
The decision overturning the verdict of the journalists was uploaded to the National Judiciary Informatics System on 8 June 2020.
Before the first hearing of the retrial, the court ruled to release six out of eight journalists pending trial. Six journalists, including Cemal Azmi Kalyoncu, were released through the court ruling on 15 June 2020.
Said six journalists had been in prison for three years and 10 months when they were released.
The retrial of eight journalists including Kalyoncu, began with the first hearing on November 4th, 2020 at Istanbul 25. High Criminal Court. Kalyoncu and the other journalists participated in the hearing with their lawyers.
The hearing prosecutor requested that the court abide by Court of Cassation’s decision to overrule the verdict. The court accepted the request.
In his defense speech, Kalyoncu said “All I did was journalism,” and indicated that he has been a journalist since the age of 14-15. Kalyoncu demanded his acquittal.
Kalyoncu and his lawyer requested that the probation measures against Kalyoncu be lifted. The court did not accept the request.
The retrial will continue with the second hearing scheduled for March 31st, 2021.
09:30’da başlaması beklenen duruşma mahkeme heyetinin yerini almasıyla birlikte 20 dakika gecikme ile başladı. Duruşmada yargılanan gazeteciler Ünal Tanık, Ahmet Memiş, Yetkin Yıldız, Cemal Azami Kalyoncu, Yakup Çetin, Ali Akkuş ve Gökçe Fırat Çulhanoğlu ile avukatları hazır bulundu.
Mahkeme heyeti, duruşmanın başında dosyaya yeni gelen bilgi ve belgeleri okudu. Gazeteci Yetkin Yıldız hakkında beyanda bulunan iki tanığın duruşmaya gelmediği açıklandı.
Duruşmada tanık olarak Yusuf Ahmet Kaymak dinlendi. Ardından söz alan yargılanan gazeteciler, haklarında uygulanan ayda bir en yakın karakola imza vermek şeklindeki adli kontrol hükmünün kaldırılmasını talep etti.
Yeniden başlayan yargılamanın ilk duruşmasında savunma yapmayan Gökçe Fırat Çulhaoğlu, savunmasını yaptı. Çulhaoğlu, yazılı savunmasını mahkeme heyetine verdi.
Çulhaoğlu, “Ben bu örgütle hep savaştım. Bu yüzden bu örgütün hiçbir zaman üyesi olmadım. Yardım ya da destekte de bulunmadım. Bu yüzden bozma ilamına katılmıyorum. Beraatimi talep ediyorum” dedi.
Avukatlarda müvekkilleri hakkında uygulanan imza şeklindeki adli kontrol hükmünün kaldırılmasını istedi.
Atilla Taş’ın avukatı Sevgi Kalan yaptığı savunmada, Avrupa İnsan Hakları Mahkemesi’nin (İHAM) müvekkili hakkında verdiği ihlal kararını hatırlattı. Avukat Kalan, Atilla Taş’ın dosyasının ayrılarak, hakkında beraat kararı verilmesini istedi.
Duruşmaya kısa bir ara veren mahkeme heyeti, Atilla Taş’ın avukatı Sevgi Kalan’ın taleplerini AİHM kararı dosyaya ulaştıktan sonra değerlendireceğine karar verdi. Mahkeme heyeti, yargılanan gazeteciler hakkında var olan ayda bir en yakın karakola imza vermek şeklindeki adli kontrol hükmünü kaldırdı.
Duruşma, 26 Ekim 2021 tarihine, saat 09:50’ye ertelendi.
Covid-19 pandemisi kapsamında adliye girişinde avukat ve yurttaşların giriş ve çıkışları bariyerlerle ayrılmıştı. Adliyeye girişler HES kodu sorgulanıp, ateş ölçümü ve X-Ray cihazından geçirilerek yapıldı. Duruşma salonunun bulunduğu kat bariyerlerle kapatılmıştı. Mahkeme başkanının talimatı üzerine 3 gazeteci duruşmaya alındı.
Mahkeme Salonu Koşulları
Duruşmanın görüldüğü salon ufak bir salondu. Pandemi önlemleri kapsamında duruşmaya salonunda uyarı yazıları yer aldı.
Duruşmayı P24 ve TGS izledi.
Duruşma yapıldığı sırada, altı yıl önce odasında rehin alınarak öldürülen İstanbul Cumhuriyet Savcısı Mehmet Selim Kiraz için anma töreni düzenlendi. Anmada yapılan konuşmalar ve çalınan İstiklal Marşı sesi duruşma salonuna geliyordu. İstiklal Marşı çalındığı sırada mahkeme heyeti, yargılanan gazeteciler ve avukatlar ile izleyicilerde saygı duruşunda bulundu.
Yargıtay’ın bozma kararının ardından yeniden başlayan yargılamanın ilk duruşması, daha önce belirlenen saatinde başladı.
Hakkındaki yargılamanın yeniden başladığı gazeteciler Ahmet Memiş, Cemal Azmi Kalyoncu, Gökçe Fırat Çulhaoğlu, Ünal Tanık, Yakup Çetin, Yetkin Yıldız, Atila Taş ve Ali Akkuş; duruşmaya avukatları ile birlikte katıldı.
Duruşma, gazeteciler hakkında verilen hapis cezası kararına ilişkin Yargıtay’ın bozma kararının okunması ile başladı.
Duruşma savcısı, Yargıtay’ın bozma kararına uyulmasını talep etti.
Mahkeme heyeti verdiği ara kararda, gazeteciler hakkında verilen bozma kararına uyulmasına karar verdi.
Mahkeme heyeti, kapatılan Zaman Gazetesi’nin eski yazarlarından Hüseyin Gülerce’nin gazetecilerle aleyhindeki tanık beyanının dosyaya eklendiğini açıkladı.
Gazeteciler, ara kararın ardından yeniden yargılama kapsamındaki ilk savunmalarını yaptı.
Ünal Tanık, iddianame kapsamında örgüt üyeliği ile suçlandığını ifade ederek, suçlamanın gerçeği yansıtmadığını kaydetti. Tanık, “Fuat Avni ile ilgili birçok haber yapıldı. Bu haberleri bir tek biz yapmadık. Hürriyet, Milliyet, Sözcü gibi gazeteler de bu haberleri yaptı. Suç ise bu gazetelere ya da çalışanlarına da dava açılmalıydı. Ben beraatımı istiyorum” dedi.
Ahmet Memiş, “Fuat Avni’nin açıklamaları haber niteliği taşıyordu. Haber niteliği varsa haber yapılır. Fuat Avni tweetleri suç ise Türkiye’de ki tüm gazeteciler hakkında soruşturma açılmalı, gazeteler ve TV’ler kapatılmalı. Fuat Avni’nin tweetlerini bunlarda haber yaptı. Bu örgütle ile hiçbir bağım yok. Bank Asya’ya da para yatırmadım. Gazetecilik yaptım ben” diye konuştu.
Yetkin Yıldız, dava kapsamında yaklaşık olarak dört yıl tutuklu kaldığını ifade ederek, “Dört yılın sonunda adalet yüzümüze güldü ve buradayız. Ben sadece işimin ekmeğimin derdindeyim. Fuat Avni haberleri suç mudur? Sadece biz dört gazeteci için suç. Habertürk, Hürriyet, Posta da buna dair haberler yaptı. Adalet mekanizması, var olan çifte standarda son vermeli artık” dedi.
Cemal Azmi Kalyoncu, “Ben gazetecilik yaptım sadece” diyerek, 14-15 yaşlarından bu yana gazetecilik yaptığını belirtti. Kalyoncu, beraatini talep etti.
Ali Akkuş, çalıştığı tüm kurumlarda gazetecilik ve haberciliği savunduğunu ifade ederek, kapatılan Zaman Gazetesi’nde çalıştığı süre boyunca da gazetenin genel yayın yönetmeni Ekrem Dumanlı ile sık sık tartıştığını ve bu yüzden de pozisyonunun sürekli düşürüldüğünü söyledi. Akkuş, FETÖ ile hiçbir bağlantısının olmadığını söyledi.
Gökçe Fırat Çulhaoğlu, savunmasında Hüseyin Gülerce’nin hakkında verdiği tanık beyanlarına atıfta bulunarak, “Hüseyin Gülerce, bu insan Zaman Gazetesi’nde çalıştı. Benim için kripto diyor. Kriptoyu biliyorsa, yönetmiş bu ekibi. Tipik bir komplocu mantık” dedi.
Atilla Taş, “Sayın Cumhurbaşkanının avukatları bu noktada çok iyi. Bir hakaret varsa ertesi gün ya soruşturma açılır ya da tutuklanırsınız. Ben daha önce yargılandım ve beraat ettim. Suçlamayı kabul etmiyorum. Biz düzmece bir iddianame ile ikinci defa tutuklandık. Bir utanç yargı açısından. Biz duvara anlatsaydık bunları, duvar beraat ederdi. Biz yorulduk, biz suçsuzuz. Beraatımı istiyorum. Biz artık adalete inanmak istiyoruz, devletten soğumak istemiyoruz” diye konuştu.
Yakup Çetin ise savunmasını, yargılamanın bir sondaki duruşmasında yapmayı talep etti.
Tüm gazeteciler haklarında uygulanan adli kontrol tedbirlerinin kaldırılmasını istedi.
Gazetecilerin ardından söz alan avukatlar da müvekkillerinin suçsuz olduğunu belirterek, haklarındaki adli kontrol kararlarının kaldırılmasını istedi.
Duruşma savcısı, dosyadaki eksik hususların giderilmesini talep etti.
Mahkeme heyeti, duruşmaya kısa bir ara verdi.
Mahkeme, gazetecilerin haklarındaki adli kontrol tedbirlerinin kaldırılması yönündeki taleplerini reddetti.
Ayrıca, Atilla Taş için “Cumhurbaşkanına Hakaret” ve “Türk Milletini, Türkiye Cumhuriyeti Devletini, Türkiye Büyük Millet Meclisini, Türkiye Cumhuriyeti Hükümetini ve Devletin yargı organlarını alenen aşağılama” suçlamaları yönünden Adalet Bakanlığı’ndan izin istenmesine karar verdi.
Yeniden başlayan yargılamanın, 31 Mart 2021 tarihinde görülecek ikinci duruşma ile devam etmesine karar verildi.
Koronavirüs karşısında alınan önlemler kapsamında, adliyeye; tek sıra halinde girilebildi. Bu düzen, bariyerlerle sağlandı. Ateş ölçümü ve X-Ray taraması yapıldı.
Adliye içinde duruşma salonunun bulunduğu kat, bariyerlerle kapatılmıştı.
Mahkeme Salonu Koşulları
Duruşma, küçük bir mahkeme salonunda görüldü. Duruşma salonunda, koronavirüs pandemisi karşısında alınan önlemlerin yazılı olduğu uyarı yazıları asılıydı.
Mahkeme başkanı, sadece üç gazetecinin duruşma salonuna girmesine izin verdi.
Duruşmayı Bağımsız Gazetecilik Platformu (P24), Disk Basın-İş, Medya ve Hukuk Çalışmaları Derneği (MLSA) gözlemcileri takip etti.
Mahkeme heyetinin, gazetecilere yaklaşımı kibardı. Gazetecilere sık sık sorular yöneltildi.
Mahkeme heyeti, duruşma öncesinde; koronavirüs pandemisi nedeniyle gazetecileri duruşmaya almayacağını özel güvenlik görevlilerine iletse de avukatların heyet ile görüşmesi ardından üç gazetecinin duruşmayı izlemesine izin verildi.
Heyet, koronavirüs pandemisi nedeniyle yargılanan gazetecilerin yan yana oturmasına izin vermedi. Bu nedenle gazetecilerden bazıları, duruşmaya; izleyici sıralarından katıldı.
"Media Structure" Trial (Retrial) 2. Standing (Minutes of the Hearing)
The Republic of Turkey held the structure known as the Fethullah Gülen Congregation responsible for the military coup attempt of 15 July 2016. The National Security Council determined on 20 July 2016 that the military coup attempt “was initiated by FETÖ via its members within the Turkish Armed Forces.”
The structure, which was stated to have secretly organised within government agencies for years, was first described as a “terrorist organisation” by a court in 2014, and later in the recommendations of the National Security Council of 27 May 2016. The National Security Council, which formerly described the structure as an “illegal parallel structure”, named it the “Fethullah Terrorist Organisation and Parallel State Structure – FETÖ-PDY” in its July memorandum.
Following the attempted coup, investigations and trials were launched, and orders for arrest and detention were issued for many individuals who were claimed to be “affiliated” with this structure. As part of these investigations, a large number of journalists and writers were placed in custody and/or detained in many provinces of Turkey due to allegations of “membership of Fethullah Terrorist Organisation (FETÖ)” and “knowingly or willingly aiding the organisation despite not being a member of FETÖ”. Investigations and prosecutions were carried out during the State of Emergency (OHAL) declared soon after the attempted coup.
Zaman newspaper, Samanyolu TV, Cihan News Agency and many other newspapers, television and radio channels and internet news portals were shut down on the similar allegations by Statutory Decrees (KHK) that were put into effect without the parliament’s approval.
In this context, Terrorism and Organised Crime Investigation Bureau of the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office of Istanbul launched an investigation against 89 journalists and media workers on allegations of “membership of FETÖ/PDY”. The names of people who were placed in custody and the details of the investigation were communicated through the public broadcaster Anadolu Agency, and published on the website of Sabah newspaper.
Although many journalists were detained under the same investigation in July 2016, they stood trial based on different indictments. For example, Mümtazer Türköne, Şahin Alpay, Ali Bulaç and many other journalists stood trial as part of the “Zaman Newspaper Court Case”, whereas Nazlı Ilıcak, Ahmet Altan, Mehmet Altan, Bülent Keneş, Mehmet Kamış and many other journalists were tried within the case publicly known as the “Subliminal Coup Messages Court Case”.
Cemal Azmi Kalyoncu, editor of the now-closed Aksiyon magazine was one of the people under investigation.
Kalyoncu was detained on 26 July 2016 in Istanbul as part of the investigation. He was taken to the Gayrettepe Public Security Branch Office in Istanbul.
Following the procedures at the security branch, Kalyoncu was taken to the Çağlayan Courthouse on 30 July.
According to the indictment, Kalyoncu stated in his statement during the investigation that he was not a member of any institution or organisation except theJournalists’ Association of Turkey, Journalists’ Union of Turkey and Economics Journalists’ Association. He stated that “he had no legal or personal ties with the Gülen Congregation, he did not publish or share on behalf of or against any congregation or organisation, and he acted solely in a journalistic capacity”.
He was referred to the court to be remanded following the prosecutor’s questioning. Kalyoncu was placed in custody on the charge of “membership of an armed organisation”. He was taken to the Silivri Closed High Security Prison.
He spent approximately six months in prison awaiting the indictment to be completed. The indictment concerning 29 people, 27 of whom were journalists, including Kalyoncu, was completed on 16 January 2017.
The indictment concerning 29 defendants, 27 of whom were journalists, including Cemal Azmi Kalyoncu, editor of the now-closed Aksiyon magazine, was completed by the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office of Istanbul on 16 January 2017. The indictment consisted of 196 pages.
112 pages of the indictment listed allegations against the “Fethullah Terrorist Organisation / Parallel State Structure (FETÖ-PDY)”. This part was identical with the texts in indictments prepared for similar cases.
The allegations against Kalyoncu started on page 133 of the indictment. It was stated that a public administrator was appointed to Zaman newspaper, where Kalyoncu worked for some time, by the 6th Criminal Court of Peace of Istanbul in March 2016.
It was asserted that “there were records indicating Kalyoncu had used the ByLock application that had been found in many court rulings to be a communication tool used by FETÖ”. In addition to evidence against Kalyoncu, the records of other journalists leaving the country, their social media outputs and information concerning their bank account activities were cited as evidence.
The indictment asserted that Kalyoncu re-shared “posts by social media accounts registered with fake usernames on the Twitter website in order to create public opinion against the Republic of Turkey”.
It was asserted that Kalyoncu’s book Nurlu Hayatlar [Radiant Lives] contained sections which praised Fetullah Gülen”.
The indictment listed the following social media outputs on Kalyoncu’s social media accounts:
. “Retweeting the post ‘Internet access to websites Medyascope, Gazeteport, Rota News, ABC newspaper and Karşı newspaper was banned.’”
. “Retweeting the post ‘TİB [Presidency of Telecommunication and Communication] banned open access to internet websites @Rotahaber @karsigazete @Medyascopetv and @CanErzincan_TV.’”
. “Retweeting the post sent by T24 from the address @t24comtr, ‘Gülen: Let an international commission investigate the coup, we will accept the results.’“
. “Retweeting the post sent by T24 from the address @t24comtr, ‘Fehmi Koru: Is Gülen the ‘brains behind the coup’? Even if he was not before, he is now…’”
. “Retweeting the post, ‘This law does not aim to downsize the Court of Cassation, but to liquidate those who do not acquiescence.’”
. “What next! Elif Çakır to Erdoğan: ‘How sad’’.
(This part was taken verbatim from the indictment. Typing errors were not corrected.)
The indictment asserted that Kalyoncu “had engaged in black propaganda” with these outputs. It was asserted in the same section that Bugün TV and Can Erzincan TV, to which public administrators were appointed by court decisions, were also “propaganda tools”.
The indictment asserted that Kalyoncu “was a member of the organisation and had participated in activities on behalf of the organisation”.
The indictment listed materials that were confiscated during a search of Kalyoncu’s house. The list included Kalyoncu’s computer and mobile phone. However, it did not include the results of the examination conducted on these devices.
The indictment charged Kalyoncu with “membership of an armed organisation” in accordance with Article 314/2 of the Turkish Penal Code. The prosecution demanded that Kalyoncu be sentenced to imprisonment of between five years and 10 years. It was also demanded that Kalyoncu “be deprived of the enjoyment of certain rights” in accordance with Article 53 of the Turkish Penal Code.
The indictment was accepted by the 25th High Criminal Court of Istanbul.
The trial concerning 29 individuals, of whom 27 were journalists, including Cemal Azmi Kalyoncu, the editor of the now-closed Aksiyon magazine, commenced with the first hearing at the 25th High Criminal Court of Istanbul on 27-31 March 2017. Kalyoncu had been in prison for approximately eight months when he first stood trial.
Attorney Ali Deniz Ceylan stated that the president of the court for the trial had detained Gökçe Fırat Çulhaoğlu along with Atilla Taş, Murat Aksoy and Mutlu Çölgeçen when he served as the judge for the 1st Court of Peace of Istanbul.
Stating that a judge who had served during the investigation process cannot serve during the trial process under the current law, attorney Ceylan demanded the president of the court’s recusal. The demand was rejected. Ceylan then demanded a “judicial disqualification”. The panel of judges unanimously rejected the demand for judicial disqualification on the grounds of it being “non-procedural”.
At the first hearing, the president of the court wanted to receive the defendants’ statements before the indictment was read.
Attorney Gülşah Kaya said: “I want the indictment to be read”. The president of the court interrupted attorney Kaya’s words. Upon this, Kaya said: “A hearing does not proceed with this sort of back and forth exchange. I make a demand, and you make a decision. You at least have the responsibility to summarise the indictment”. However, the president of the court did not respond to the demand.
The indictment was not read. However, the statement “the indictment was read” was written in the court minutes. Attorney Ömer Kavili demanded “Let the minutes reflect that this is a false statement”. The panel of judges did not respond. Spectators applauded Kavili. In response to applause, the president of the court reacted by saying: “Who do you think you’re applauding?”
The final hearing of the trial took place on 31 March 2017. The prosecutor for the hearing demanded 13 defendants to be released. The court added eight more journalists, including Cemal Azmi Kalyoncu, to the 13 people to be released pending trial. Thus, 21 journalists were released.
A series of developments took place on 31 March 2017 when the ruling was declared and the early hours of the following day.
Cem Küçük, who wrote columns for newspapers known to have adopted a pro-government publishing policy, stated the following in his social media account: “Every prosecutor and judge will be discharged from duty who ordered the release of apparent FETÖ members. This is the state’s definitive judgement. Everybody should know it.” He also stated the following: “The Ministry of Justice and the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors started to take action. God willing, the traitors will not be set free.”
The prosecutor for the hearing objected to the release of eight journalists, who were released by the court even though the prosecutor had not demanded their release the same day on 31 March 2017.
The prosecutor for the hearing asserted in the objection regarding the release of the eight journalists whose release had not been demanded by the prosecution that “evidence against the defendants was not collected fully” and “the release order was nonprocedural and illegal”.
The prosecutor’s demand was processed the same day by the 26th High Criminal Court of Istanbul, the upper court for the 27th High Criminal Court of Istanbul, which issued the release order. Despite the release order, eight journalists were not released from prison and were remanded in custody again.
On the other hand, a new investigation commenced the same day concerning the 13 journalists whose release the prosecutor for the hearing had demanded and the court ruled accordingly. As part of the new investigation, these 13 journalists were remanded in custody again the same day before even leaving the prison. After 14 days of custody procedures, 12 journalists were remanded on charges of “attempting to destroy the constitutional order” and “attempting to destroy the Government of the Republic of Turkey” by the 2nd Criminal Court of Peace of Istanbul. One journalist was released pending trial.
Thus, none of the journalists for whom release orders were issued were released on 31 March 2017.
The president and two members of the panel of judges who issued release orders for 21 journalists at the first hearing of the trial were suspended by the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors. Cem Küçük, who wrote columns for newspapers known to have adopted a pro-government publishing policy, had stated the following in his social media account: “Every prosecutor and judge will be discharged from duty who ordered the release of apparent FETÖ members.”
Following these incidents, the second hearing of the trial took place on 27 April 2017.
At this hearing, the court heard witnesses testify about the journalists.
The third hearing of the trial took place on 6 July 2017. The panel of judges rejected in its interim decision the demands of remanded journalists and their attorneys to be released at the end of the hearing.
Meanwhile, the second indictment concerning the 13 journalists who were ordered to be released at the first hearing of the trial, but were detained again in line with a new investigation, including Abdullah Kılıç, was presented to the same court on 5 June 2017.
The journalists were charged with “attempting to destroy the constitutional order by means of coercion and violence” and “attempting to destroy the Government of the Republic of Turkey by means of coercion and violence” in line with Articles 309/1 and 312/1 of the Turkish Penal Code. The prosecution demanded that the journalists be sentenced to two aggravated life sentences.
The first hearing of the trial for the second indictment took place on 16 August 2017. The court ordered the trial concerning the journalists to continue by merging the two indictments.
The first hearing of the trial that continued after the two indictments were merged took place on 24-25 October 2017. The panel of judges had changed for the third time at this hearing of the trial. The president of the court read out the documents submitted to the court concerning Bank Asya and Bylock at this hearing.
The second hearing of the trial that continued after the two indictments were merged took place on 3-4 December 2017. Six witnesses were heard at the hearing. The court ruled that all remanded defendants should be kept in remand.
The third hearing of the trial took place on 8 February 2018. The prosecutor presented the opinion of the prosecution as to the accusations in this hearing.
The opinion of the prosecution demanded that Kalyoncu be sentenced over the charge of “membership of an armed terrorist organisation”.
Kalyoncu made his defensive statement at the second session of the fourth hearing of the trial on 22 February 2018.
Kalyoncu stated that he had started working for Zaman newspaper when he was 21 because he could not get a job anywhere else, and then accepted Aksiyon magazine’s offer of permanent position. Stating that people such as Fehmi Koru, Ahmet Taşgetiren, Ayşe Böhürler and former prime minister Ahmet Davutoğlu had also written articles for Aksiyon magazine, Kalyoncu asked: “I am charged with being an organisation member due to working for Aksiyon, Then why was the publication of this magazine allowed for so many years?”
Hacer Kutay, Kalyoncu’s attorney, stated that the term “altering perceptions on behalf of an organisation” had been introduced to the legal literature with the court cases at hand. Kutay said: “These expressions lead to tangible evidence being ignored and the trial process relying not on the facts, but assuming the intentions [of the defendants]”.
The final hearing of the trial took place on 7-8 March 2018. In his final statement, Kalyoncu said: “In all my 46 years, I never had any interest in being a member of an organisation. I believe that justice will be served”.
The court sentenced Kalyoncu to six years and three months of imprisonment on charges of “membership of an armed terrorist organisation”.
Thus, the court ruled that Kalyoncu should continue to be held in remand.
The Appeals Process
Journalist Cemal Azmi Kalyoncu’s attorneys launched an appeal against the imprisonment sentence at the court of appeals.
The appeals process was carried out by the 2nd Penal Chamber of the Istanbul Circuit Courts of Appeals. The Chamber delivered its ruling on 22 October 2018.
The appeal was rejected in substance. The Chamber found that the ruling of the local court was legal according to the methods and procedures. It was asserted that “the evidence in the file was sufficient for establishing the crime”.
The chamber ruled that Kalyoncu should continue to be held in remand.
The Court of Cassation Process
Journalist Cemal Azmi Kalyoncu’s attorneys brought the ruling approved by the court of appeals before the Court of Cassation.
The appeals process was conducted by the 16th Penal Chamber of the Court of Cassation. The attorneys demanded that the appeals process be conducted by means of hearings. However, their demands were rejected. The Chamber delivered its ruling on 16 March 2020.
The imprisonment sentence concerning Kalyoncu on charges of “membership of an armed terrorist organisation” was overturned by the Court of Cassation.
The ruling of the Court of Cassation stated that the local court “erred in the classification of the offence”. It was stated that “the alleged acts of the journalist were not adequate to establish them as members of the organisation”. The ruling stated that the journalists should have been prosecuted on the charges of “aiding an armed terrorist organisation” instead of “membership of an armed terrorist organisation”.
The investigation concerning Kalyoncu has recommenced.
Following the Court of Cassation’s overturning of the verdicts for the eight journalists, including Kalyoncu, the file was sent to the 25th High Criminal Court of Istanbul for retrial.
The decision overturning the verdicts for journalists was uploaded to the National Judiciary Informatics System on 8 June 2020.
Before the first hearing of the retrial, the court ruled for the release of six out of eight journalists pending trial.
The court ruled for the release of five journalists, including Kalyoncu, on 15 July 2020.
Kalyoncu had been in prison for three years and 10 months when he was released.
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