After graduating from Gazi University School of Press, started journalism at Anka Agency in 1992. With “milli görüş (national outlook)” rising, he actively followed Necmettin Erbakan’s Refah Party (RP) which won the Mayoral Elections of Istanbul and Ankara in 1994. After RP accessed to power he worked as a reporter from the Prime Ministry and the Parliament. He then followed Fazilet Party that replaced RP that got shut down and then AKP, which was founded by Tayyip Erdoğan. After ANKA Agency he started working for Taraf where he followed AKP and wrote pieces on political Islam. In 2010 he started working as a parliament reporter for Cumhuriyet. He became the Ankara correspondent of the paper in 2014.
The article he wrote on the edition of the paper at June 12th, 2015 titled “Gendarmerie said the weapons exist” caused an investigation to be opened against him. News was about the criminal investigation reports of the weaponry found in the MIT Trucks that were stopped at Adana. In the scope of the investigation he was arrested at November 26th, 2015. He was released after 92 days, following the Constitutional Court’s “Violation of Rights” decision. Gül, who was released pending trial, was sentenced to 5 years of imprisonment by Istanbul 14th Assize Court. After the Court of Cassation’s revocation decision 2 cases against him were dropped and he was acquitted. Gül, was elected as the mayor of Adalar as a candidate of CHP in the Local Elections at March 31st.
Pictures showing weaponry in the trucks that allegedly belonged to Turkish National Intelligence Organisation and were being carried to Syria, were published in the Cumhuriyet’s edition of May 29th, 2015 with the signature of Can Dündar. The article was titled “here are the weapons that Erdoğan said didn’t exist”. Papers web-page also showed the footage of the research made in the trucks. Footage was previously published at Aydınlık Newspaper on January 21st, 2014 with the title of “here’s the ammunition in the trucks”.
Ankara Correspondent of Cumhuriyet, Erdem Gül, made the news about the criminal investigation of the weaponry in June 12th, 2015. Article was published with the title of “Gendarmerie said the weapons exist”.
The same day Istanbul Office of Chief Public Prosecutor, released a statement and said an investigation against Dündar was underway. In the statement Dündar was accused of “securing the confidential documents of the State”, “political and military espionage”, “disclosing the information, that must be kept confidential” and “making propaganda for a terrorist organisation”. In the scope of the investigation, article on the webpage of the paper was also restricted to public access. İrfan Fidan, the Deputy Public Prosecutor of the date, was in charge of the investigation. Gül’s news dated June 12th, 2015 was also included in the investigation and restricted to access.
At June 1st, 2015, President Erdoğan in a live broadcast, said, “He will pay for this heavily, I won’t leave him just like that”, targeting Dündar.
Shortly after the start of the investigation, on June 7th, 2015 General Elections were held. In the elections Erdoğan’s AKP couldn’t come to power alone. A government wasn’t formed and at November 1st, 2015 early elections were held and AKP, obtained the majority of the parliament.
From May 29th, 2015 when the investigations started, until November 1st, 2015, Dündar wasn’t subpoenaed to testify. Before a month after the elections the subpoena arrived and Gül at November 26th, 2015 went to Istanbul Courthouse at Çağlayan to plea. İrfan Fidan took Gül’s statement. Gül said the following:
“I’m a journalist of 20-25 years. As you may know I cannot reveal the identity of my source. I’m going to have to ask you to forgive me about not giving any information about that. I graduated from a journalism school. I’m a journalist of Ankara. I’m underlining this because main focus of journalists of Ankara is the state bureaucracy. And I published these with a reflex. Apart from that I don’t have any other purpose. I’m a journalist and I will publish everything thats worthy of making news about. I don’t think like a prosecutor or a judge about events. I have never made any activities within the lines and purposes of an organisation. I have no special purposes. I did not calculate anyone’s benefit or loss making this news. My purpose is to inform the public.”
Prosecutor Fidan, following the statement lead Gül to Istanbul Criminal Courts of Peace to be arrested on the grounds of “knowingly and willingly assisting an organisation without being a member”, “political and military espionage”, dispatching information that must be kept confidential”. Istanbul 7th Criminal Court of Peace then decided for his arrest with the same accusations.
During the interrogation Gül was asked “Isn’t the security of the public a measure for you while making the news? Are you not worried about the security of the state? Why did you carry on making the news despite the media blackout on the matter?”. To which he responded as following:
“I, only 2 days ago, learned about being summoned to make a statement today. Before that i have not received any verbal or written information regarding a criminal action. I was invited to give my statement today at the office of public prosecutor. I can’t make sense of these accusations. Because being a journalist is a hard thing. I’ve been a journalist for 20 years. That is why it’s called the 5th power. I can’t understand how my news was mentioned along with terrorist organisations and espionage. The document that is subject to the news was a document prepared by Gendarmerie, one of the highly respected organs of the State. To me, the conflict between the Congregation and the Government doesn’t matter. When I make news I don’t ask questions such as who may be benefitting from this or who may be being damaged from this. To me only thing that matters is the safety and peace of the public. My job is to reveal if the government is not being transparent to the public and hiding things from them. The only way for public to live at peace and security is through disarmament. For instance there may be an epidemic and a party thats in the government might hide this to not to lose the elections. It is a crime for a journalist to not write about this. I think like this about the weaponry issue as well. I never considered being a member of an organisation. I find the accusation of espionage highly saddening. If I’m tried for a news I wrote, possibilities of; freedom of thought and speech, freedom of information of the public and medias duty to inspect the governments will reduce. Accusations in the files will start a process that will frighten the media even more, cause censor, auto-censor which will then prevent the public from learning the truth. I plea not guilty. I want to be released and I want to continue making news.”
Judge İsmail Yavuz, in the decision for Gül’s arrest, claimed that “given his professional status, he could know that an investigation had started against those who stopped the MIT Trucks and he dispatched the documents nonetheless”. Strong doubt of crime, higher limitations of the accused crime, and the doubt that judicial control could not be sufficient were also along the reasons.
After the arrest decision, Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor Hadi Salihoğlu made a statement regarding the decision and said the following:
“Investigation had nothing to do with the constitutionally-provided “freedom of press” and wasn’t done in a manner to violate personal rights and freedoms. Suspects were called and invited to the Office of the Public Prosecutor without even being arrested.”
The indictment about the investigation was published by Nazif Karaman in Sabah Newspaper at January 27th, 2016, even before it reached to Gül and his attorneys.
The indictment signed by Istanbul Deputy Chief Public Prosecutor İrfan Fidan was 473-pages long. Complainants were Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the National Intelligence Organisation.
1 page of the indictment was about Erdem Gül. In that page was his statements taken at the prosecutor’s office and the titles of 3 news that were considered a crime. 1 of the news was made by another reporter of the paper.
22 pages of the indictment were exactly the same as an essay published in the Union of Turkish Bar Associations written by F.T., a research assistant at Galatasaray University School of Public Law, in 2015 with the title of “Concept of Terrorist Organisations in Criminal Law”. It was also noteworthy that the indictment didn’t have any sign of a quotation from said essay.
Remaining 394 pages of the indictment stated the details of the investigation and the structure of Fethullah Gülen congregation.The indictment accused Gül of, “securing the information that, due to its nature, must be kept confidential for reasons relating to the security of the State, for the purpose of political or military espionage”, “disclosing the information that, due to its nature, must be kept confidential for reasons relating to the security of the State, for the purpose of espionage”, “attempting to abolish, replace or prevent the implementation of, through force and violence, the constitutional order of the republic of Turkey” and “willingly and knowingly assisting a terrorist organisation without being a member”. Penalty asked for Gül was an aggravated life imprisonment, life imprisonment and up-to-30 years of imprisonment.
In the indictment Prosecutor Fidan stated that, people who, have stopped the trucks that belongs to MIT, searched the trucks , assaulted the MIT officials, are in a “armed terrorist organisation and their ultimate goal is to “abolish the government of the Republic of Turkey”. Prosecutor’s Office suggested that Gül was “making publications in order to associate the state and the government with terror” and claimed that they were acting in an ideal and actional consensus with FETÖ/PDY.
The indictment was approved by Istanbul 14th Assize Court at February 5th, 2016. Court set the first hearing date to March 25th, 2016 and ruled for the continuation of Gül’s conviction.
Constitutional Court Process
Gül appealed to the Constitutional Court on December 6th, 2015 on the grounds that his detention along with Can Dündar, violated the freedom of press and expression. When Gül made his application, the indictment had not been prepared. The Constitutional Court examined Gul’s application on February 17, shortly before the start of the proceedings. A week later, on February 25th, the Constitutional Court ruled that there was a violation of rights and the local court released Dundar and Gül.
Following this constitutional court ruling President Tayyip Erdoğan said: “I will remain silent to the decision the court has given. But I don’t need to accept it, I want to make that clear. I don’t obey or respect the decision. In fact the court which had made a decision about them could insist on their rule.”
First hearing of the MIT Trucks case on which Can Dündar and Erdem Gül were the suspects, was held at March 25th, 2016 in Çağlayan Courthouse of Istanbul Court. Days before the first hearing, then called Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors, appointed a second board to the court. This court was only in charge of the MIT Trucks, Hrand Dink Murder Case, and the case opened for allegedly establishing a caliper in Tahşiye investigation (An operation against another religious movement which allegedly had a conflict with Gulen Movement)
On March 23, 2016, the then Chief Public Prosecutor of Istanbul, Hadi Salihoğlu changed the court’s prosecutor. Prosecutor of Counter-Terrorism and Organized Crime Bureau, Evliya Çalışkan has been assigned to this task. At the first hearing on March 25th, 2016, he requested that the next hearings be closed to the audience. The prosecutor’s justification was that the Prime Ministry and the MIT Undersecretariat sent documents to the Adana Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, which initiated the first investigation into the stopping of the MIT Trucks, and the documents were also in this case file. According to the prosecutor, these documents could be expressed at any time by the parties. However, there was no such document in the file. The delegation accepted the request and only the spouses and lawyers of Dündar and Gül attended the hearings of the three-year trial.
Second hearing of the case took place at April 1st, 2016. Defence arguments, questions of the prosecutor on this case were published on Twitter accounts of the judiciary organisations. According to that, on his defence argument Erdem Gül reminded that when the news about MIT Trucks were made, Turkey’s Syria policy was being discussed. Gül then said “News of explosions/massacres that we often face in Middle East didn’t yet exist in Turkey. It started with Reyhanlı.” He said when the files about the transportation of the guns came to him, he made the news and he added:
“If Turkey is facing a massacre, i consider it a duty and make the news. News may be criticised, discussed but can never be a subject to an investigation.”
Gül said that President Erdoğan publicly requested them to be arrested and they will defend the Constitutional Court’s decision for Violation of Rights.
In the hearing prosecutor Evliya Çalışkan asked “There are 3 orders regarding the confidentiality of the events. Why did you make the news, knowing that it is an offence?”. Gül asked back to prosecutor Çalışkan “Why no cases were opened if we violated the confidentiality?”. Then Çalışkan said that the news he wrote were terrorist activities and asked “What were your motives and reasons for insistence on making the news?”. Gül said “I made the news so that the massacres in Middle East don’t take place in our country.”. The prosecutor then said “We’re not judging journalism here, we are judging your actions.” and asked if he had any connections with FETÖ. To which Gül replied “I don’t know who Fetullah Gülen is, the government knows him better.”.
Third hearing of the case took place at April 22nd, 2016. In this case prosecutor Evliya Çalışkan requested that the case to be consolidated with the case on which TSK(Turkish Armed Forces) members that stopped the trucks and made criminal investigations on the weaponry and the prosecutors of the investigation, that was being held at the 16th Criminal Chamber of the Court of Cassation. The prosecutor denied the request and asked for time to prepare his opinion as to the accusations. Prosecutor’s request was granted.
4th hearing of the case was supposed to take place at May 6th, 2016. Prosecutor Çalışkan stated his opinion as to the accusations on April 29th, 2016. Çalışkan in the opinion, asked Gül to be punished for with up-to-10-years of imprisonment for the crime of “disclosing documents or certificates relating to the security, or domestic or foreign political interests of the State”. Prosecutor Çalışkan, asked that in order to reach a verdict on the accusations of “willingly and knowingly helping a terrorist organisation without being a member and attempted coup” the decision from the case on which TSK(Turkish Armed Forces) members that stopped the trucks and made criminal investigations on the weaponry and the prosecutors of the investigation, that was being held at the 16th Criminal Chamber of the Court of Cassation should be waited, therefore trials for these crimes should continue with a different basis number. On the 4th hearing that took place at May 6th, 2014, Gül made his defence argument against the opinion as to the accusations. Gül said: “I want to remind the words of the great law person Faruk Erem, ‘scratch the criminal, a human will be revealed from underneath. Scratch the crime here and you find a journalist. May 6th is a black mark on Turkish history. We don’t want executions or injustices. We don’t want Turkey to reach any more shameful decisions.”
Gül underlined that journalism is not a crime and said “A journalist makes news. We are not criminals, and we believe the court will decide so. The prosecutor didn’t collect evidences against us. We are not criminals, we are journalists.”
Court sentence Gül to 5 years of imprisonment on grounds of “disclosing confidential documents of the State”, acquitted him for the crime of “attempted coup” and ruled that trial for the crimes of “assisting an organisation” should continue with a different basis number in order to wait for the decision of the Court of Cassation.
First hearing of the separated case for the “assisting an organisation” accusation was held at September 21st, 2016, again at the Istanbul 14th Assize Court. Enis Berberoğlu, a CHP Deputy, was added to the case files as a suspect. Berberoğlu was accused of “securing the information that, due to its nature, must be kept confidential for reasons relating to the security or domestic or foreign political interests of the State, for the purpose of political or military espionage, and willingly and knowingly assisting the FETÖ/PDY armed organisation.” Hearing was again closed to public. An objection against that decision was denied and the next hearing was set to November 16th, 2016.
On the second hearing at November 16th, 2016 it was decided that the journalist Soner Yalçın, who claimed that Berberoğlu had FETÖ connections, was to be heard as a witness and the outcome of the case on which TSK(Turkish Armed Forces) members that stopped the trucks and made criminal investigations on the weaponry and the prosecutors of the investigation, that was being held at the 16th Criminal Chamber of the Court of Cassation was to be asked. Hearing was postponed to January 11th, 2017.
2 weeks after this hearing, on December 2nd, 2016 Bünyamin Karakaş, a member of the court board, was arrested and laid off as a judge for the accusations of “FETÖ membership”. Karakaş was also a member of the board that sentenced Gül to 5 years in prison. On December 19th, 2016 presiding judge Canel Rüzgar was taken from the duty and was assigned to another court. His place was given to Ali Ihsan Horasan, head of the substitute board.
On the 3rd hearing at January 11th, 2017, prosecutor Mehmet Yeşilkaya released his opinions as to the accusations without the execution of the court decision to hear the witnesses. In the opinion, prosecutor requested Gül to be punished for up-to-10-years of imprisonment for the crime of “knowingly and willingly assisting an organisation without being a member”. And claimed that none of the news made by Gül had provided any benefit to the public. Yeşilkaya defended that the news were made as if there were criminal investigations taking place in Ceyhan, Adana and Kırıkhan, Hatay, and claimed that the footage was published in a manner to damage the Government.Next hearing of the case was set to March 1st, 2017.
On the 4th hearing that took place at March 1st, 2017, it was requested that the hearings to be opened to public and the press. Additionally President Erdoğan’s request to take part in the case was discussed. The request to open the case to public and the press was denied unanimously. Erdoğan’s request was approved by majority of the votes. Court member Ömer Karagöl, who voted against this request, pointed out that given the characteristics of the case, Erdoğan has no right to personally take part in this case. The court, then adjourned the hearing in order to ask the outcome of the case on which TSK(Turkish Armed Forces) members that stopped the trucks and made criminal investigations on the weaponry and the prosecutors of the investigation, that was being held at the 16th Criminal Chamber of the Court of Cassation and set the new date to April 27th, 2017.
On the 5th hearing that took place at April 27th, 2017 court asked the suspects for their additional pleas for possible changes in the accusations. Berberoğlu and Dündar couldn’t provide their additional pleas so the case was adjourned to May 8th, 2017.
On the 6th hearing of the case at May 6th, 2017 court gave Berberoğlu additional time to inspect the cellular phone signal information that was recently added to the case files and the hearing was postponed to May 24th, 2017.
On the 7th hearing at May 24th, 2017, the court once again postponed the court in order to find out the outcome of the case on which TSK(Turkish Armed Forces) members that stopped the trucks and made criminal investigations on the weaponry and the prosecutors of the investigation, that was being held at the 16th Criminal Chamber of the Court of Cassation and set the new date to June 14th, 2017.
On the 8th hearing that took place at June 14th, 2017, court has sentenced Berberoğlu to 25-years of imprisonment and asked him to be arrested, on the grounds of “disclosing the information that, due to its nature, must be kept confidential for reasons relating to the security or domestic or foreign political interests of the State, for the purpose of political or military espionage”. It was also decided that Gül’s trial for the accusation of “willingly and knowingly assisting and organisation without being a member” was to continue with a different basis number. All the proceedings through this trial was agains Berberoğlu.
Reasoned judgement of the imprisonment sentence reminded that on January 21st, 2014 there were news on Aydınlık Newspaper regarding the aforementioned weaponry with the title of “Here’s the ammunition in the truck”. Court; stated that along with the news there were pictures of what is “claimed to be pictures of cannon balls”, and claimed that other than that there were no other information, file and footage in the news.
This case for the accusations of “willingly and knowingly assisting an organisation without being a member”, which was saved under a new basis number, took place at October 4th, 2017 in Istanbul 14th Assize Court.
This time, İ.Y., Editor-in-chief of the paper, and C.B., chief of intelligence services of the paper at the date, when the news “Here’s the ammunition in the truck” were made on Aydınlık’s edition of January 21st, 2014, were added to the case.
Accusation against the two was “disclosing the information that, due to its nature, must be kept confidential for reasons relating to the security or domestic or foreign political interests of the State”. In this hearing Berberoğlu and his attorneys claimed that with the court has lost its impartiality with the reasoned judgment that acquitted Aydınlık and refused the court board. Therefore the hearing was adjourned to December 20th, 2017.
On the 2nd hearing of the case at December 20th, 2017, court ruled that even though the files of the case against İ.Y. and C.B. were sent for having actual relationship to the case but the subjects of the cases were different therefore the files should be separated. Court also decided to waive the previous decision to find out the outcome of the case on which TSK(Turkish Armed Forces) members that stopped the trucks and made criminal investigations on the weaponry and the prosecutors of the investigation, that was being held at the 16th Criminal Chamber of the Court of Cassation.
Court then asked the prosecutor of the case to present the opinion as to the accusations. Prosecutor Mehmet Yeşilkaya, claimed that Gül’s news were not in the scope of journalism activities and press freedom. Prosecutor also stated that it was known that the trucks were stopped by FETÖ/PDY and claimed that “it was against the natural flow of life that the journalist didn’t know that the operation was made by FETÖ/PDY”. Prosecutor then asked Gül to be punished with from 7.5 years to 15 years of imprisonment for “knowingly and willingly assisting an armed terrorist organisation without being a member”. Next hearing was decided to be held at January 24th, 2018.
On the 3rd case at January 24th, 2018, court board and the prosecutor of the case were excused hence the next hearing was set to February 16th, 2018.
On the 4th case at February 16th, 2018, suspects and their attorneys were given time to prepare their statements regarding the rules and procedures. Hearing was adjourned to March 14th, 2018.
Court of Cassation Decision
On March 9th, 2018, Court of Cassation revoked the conviction sentence of Erdem Gül, given at May 2016 and stated that Gül was to be acquitted. The decision said “Since there was no sufficient, conclusive and convincing evidence to show the obtainment of the files that are considered state secret with personal efforts or partaking in Can Dündar’s actions, therefore he should be acquitted of unproven offences.”. Following the Court of Cassation’s revocation decision, court acquitted Gül of the crimes of “disclosing files that must be kept confidential” at the hearing on July 16th, 2018.
On the 5th hearing at March 14th, 2018, court decided to wait for the outcome of Court of Cassation’s decision about revocation and adjourned the hearing to May 9th, 2018.
On the 6th hearing at May 9th, 2019 presiding judge was on sick leave. Therefore the hearing was adjourned to July 18th, 2018.
On the 7th hearing at July 18thi 2018 court ruled that Gül and his attorneys were to be given time in order to prepare their defence as to the accusations. Adjourned the hearing to October 10th.
On the 8th hearing at October 10th, 2018, presiding judge said that an official report on whether Gül has any connections to FETÖ/PYD, prepared by Department of Counter-Terrorism and Operations was added to the files and gave Gül more time to inspect the files and prepare a plea and postponed the hearing to February 6th, 2019.
On the 9th hearing at February 9th, 2019, court separated the files of Dündar, the other suspect of the case, and set the next hearing to May 15th.
On the 10th hearing at May 15th, 2019, court has dropped the case against Gül due the not having a law suit within the 4 months time limit, foreseen at the article 26 of the Press Law.
Case against Can Dündar was decided to be consolidated. Case in absentia against Dündar will continue at October 21st, 2019.
Milli İstihbarat Teşkilatı’na (MİT) ait tırların Suriye’ye silah taşıdığına ilişkin yapılan haberler nedeniyle Cumhuriyet gazetesi eski Genel Yayın Yönetmeni Can Dündar, Ankara temsilcisi Erdem Gül ve Milletvekili Enis Berberoğlu “terör örgütüne üye olmadan yardım etmek” suçlamasıyla İstanbul 14. Ağır Ceza Mahkemesi’nde yargılanıyor. İddianameyi 25 Ocak 2016’da dönemin İstanbul Cumhuriyet Başsavcı vekili İrfan Fidan hazırladı. Yurt dışında olan Can Dündar’ın dosyası ayrıldı.
Emre Efe Şimşek başkanlığında, Ali Özcan ve Nail İnce üye hakimlerinden oluşan mahkeme heyeti, duruşmayı kapalı olarak gerçekleştirdi. Erdem Gül, üç avukatı ile duruşmaya katıldı. Mazeret bildiren Enis Berberoğlu’nun da üç avukatı duruşmada yer aldı.
Tutanakta yer alan bilgilere göre Enis Berberoğlu’nun avukatı üç kişinin tanık olarak dinlenmesini talep etti. Mahkeme bu talebi reddetti.
Duruşma Ses ve Görüntü Bilişim Sistemi ile kayda alındı. Erden Gül ve avukatları esas hakkındaki son savunmasını sundu.
Mahkeme kararını açıklarken kapalılığa son vererek seyircileri salona aldı.
Erdem Gül hakkında 29 Mayıs 2015’te Cumhuriyet Gazetesi’nden yayımlandıktan sonra devlet sırrı niteliği kalmayan bilgileri 12 Haziran 2016’te aynı gazetede yayımlayarak açıklanmasından ibaret olan olayda “soruşturmanın gizliliğini ihlal” suçunu oluşturacağı kanaatine vardı. Bu suçla ilgili de 5187 sayılı Basın Kanunu’nda belirtilen davanın dört aylık süreden sonra açılması nedeniyle davanın düşmesine karar verdi.
Enis Berberoğlu hakkında ise hüküm verilmesine yer olmadığına karar verdi.
Duruşma kapalı gerçekleştiği için destek için gelenler salona açılan koridorun önünde bekledi.
Mahkeme Salonu Koşulları
Mahkeme salonu İstanbul Adliyesi’ndeki büyük salonlardandı.
Türkiye Gazeteciler Cemiyeti Başkanı Turgay Olcayto ile Genel Sekreteri Sibel Güneş, Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi milletvekili Sezgin Tanrıkulu, Tuncay Özkan’ın da aralarında olduğu isimler dayanışma için adliyedeydi. Karar sırasında duruşmayı milletvekilleri ve gazetecilerin de aralarında olduğu 30 kadar kişi takip etti.
11.15’de başlayacağı duyurulan duruşma için çağrı 11.49’da yapıldı. Seyirciler salona 14.06’da alındı. Karar alkışlarla karşılandı
Dündar, Gül - MİT Trucks Trial (Indictment)
Dündar, Gül - MİT Trucks Trial (Reasoned Judgement)
Dündar, Gül - MİT Trucks Trial (The Constitutional Court's Judgement)
Dündar, Gül - MİT Trucks Trial (The Court of Cassation's Judgement)
Dündar, Gül - MİT Trucks Trial 10. Standing (Minutes of the Hearing)