Halil İbrahim Özdabak is a cartoonist for Yeni Asya newspaper. He is also the the technical manager of the newspaper. He holds a permanent press card.
Özdabak was born in Giresun in 1957. He graduated from the Department of Art at the Istanbul Atatürk Faculty of Education. He drew vignettes, portraits and cartoons for the Köprü magazine, Nur magazine, Büyük newspaper, Elif, and Yeni Asya newspaper. He started drawing daily political cartoons for Yeni Asya newspaper in 1982. He has prepared over 250 book covers. He has published over 5,000 cartoons.
He was charged with “consecutive terrorist organisation propaganda” over his political cartoons published in Yeni Asya newspaper, which is known as the publishing organ of the Nur congregation. The prosecution demanded that Özdabak be sentenced to imprisonment of between one year and three months and eight years and nine months. He was tried without being detained along with Kazım Güleçyüz, the editor-in-chief of the newspaper.
He was sentenced to one year, six months and 22 days of imprisonment at the third and final hearing of the trial on 23 January 2020. The court of appeals examination into the ruling is underway.
Özdabak’s had previously stood trial for his political cartoons. He was tried for a cartoon depicting Abdurrahman Yalçınkaya, the former Chief Public Prosecutor of the Court of Cassation, who filed a lawsuit for the closure of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) in 2008. The caricature depicted Yalçınkaya as “an owl wearing a surcoat”. Özdabak, who faced a two-year imprisonment sentence, was acquitted of the defamation charges.
He was also put on trial for the cartoon of Osman Kaçmaz, the former chief judge of the 1st High Criminal Court of Sincan, Ankara, who took legal action for the prosecution of former President Abdullah Gül in 2009. The caricature depicted Kaçmaz sitting on a tank. Özdabak, who faced an imprisonment sentence of two years and eight months on charges of “defamation of a public official for doing his/her duty by means of the media”, was acquitted at the end of the trial.
The investigation concerning Halil İbrahim Özdabak, a cartoonist for Yeni Asya newspaper began after reports were received concerning him and Kazım Güleçyüz, the editor-in-chief of the newspaper. The reports claimed that Özdabak “had been engaged in propaganda to legitimise the acts of FETÖ”.
The Istanbul Directorate of Security began an investigation upon receiving reports concerning Özdabak and Güleçyüz which alleged they were engaged in “terrorist organisation propaganda”. As part of the investigation, Yeni Asya Newspaper’s headlines and news reports dating from 1 January 2014 were examined.
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 declared that the structure was a terrorist organisation in an advisory decision in May 2016. The National Security Council, which formerly described the structure as an “illegal parallel structure”, named it as “Fethullah Terrorist Organisation and Parallel State Structure – FETÖ-PDY” in its July memorandum.
Yeni Asya Newspaper began publishing in 1970. The newspaper adopted a critical attitude towards the State of Emergency practices that were put into effect following the military coup attempt of 15 July 2016. The newspaper also supported the “no” vote in the 16 April 2017 referendum which approved a change of the regime in Turkey from the parliamentary system to the “Presidential Government System”, also known as the “Presidential System”.
Before the investigation, on 19 July 2018 Takvim newspaper published an article on its website with the heading “Crypto-FETÖ newspaper cannot get enough of lies and slander”. The piece asserted that “Yeni Asya Newspaper is overtly propagandising for the organisation since 15 July”. It was stated that “the newspaper is trying to change perceptions using children, and is fabricating all sorts of lies for the release of the members of the organisation from prison”. The report stated that “it makes no sense that Yeni Asya is left out of the FETÖ investigations, even though evidence of its connection with the Fetullah terrorist organisation (FETÖ) has been revealed since 15 July”. Around the same time, Sabah newspaper also published a similar piece.
Özdabak denied the charges in his statement given at the prosecutor’s office. Özdabak stated that he had drawn political cartoons to convey the problems that little children and babies of mothers in prison were facing following the military coup attempt of 15 July 2016. He stated that his political cartoons indicated that “prison is no place for children and another solution needed to be found”.
The indictment concerning Güleçyüz and Özdabak was completed on 7 December 2018.
The indictment concerning Kazım Güleçyüz, the editor-in-chief of Yeni Asya newspaper, and Halil İbrahim Özdabak, a cartoonist for the newspaper, was completed by the Press Crimes Investigation Office of the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office of Istanbul on 7 December 2018.
The indictment charged Özdabak over 18 political cartoons published in Yeni Asya newspaper. Political cartoons depicted “the closure of Samanyolu TV”, “a detained mother losing her twins”, “a discharged woman prosecutor cleaning houses” and “a mother being referred from the hospital to the courthouse with her day-old baby”.
The indictment asserted that Özdabak “had been trying to make the FETÖ armed terrorist organisation, its members and administrators appear to be innocent or victimised”. It was asserted that Özdabak “had been trying to depict the investigations and prosecutions against the FETÖ armed terrorist organisation as acts of oppression directed at victims”.
Özdabak was charged with “aiding attempts at trivialising” the investigations and prosecutions directed against FETÖ. Özdabak was also charged with “introducing organisation leader Fetullah Gülen to the public as a religious congregation by quoting his words and statements”.
The indictment asserted that Özdabak “had participated in activities to legitimise the FETÖ/PDY armed terrorist organisation’s acts of coercion and violence, and had engaged in terrorist organisation propaganda”.
The indictment demanded that Özdabak be sentenced to imprisonment of between one year and five years in accordance with Article 7/2 of the Law on Anti-Terrorism on the charges of “terrorist organisation propaganda”. The prosecution demanded that the sentence be increased from one year and three months to eight years and nine months in accordance with Article 43 of the Turkish Penal Code on the charges of “successive crime”, and on grounds that “the crime had been committed on multiple counts”. It was also demanded that Özdabak “be deprived of the enjoyment of certain rights” in accordance with Article 53 of the Turkish Penal Code.
The indictment concerning Güleçyüz and Halil İbrahim Özdabak was initially rejected by the 29th High Criminal Court of Istanbul, and was returned to the prosecutor’s office.T he prosecutor’s office filed an objection to the decision. The 30th High Criminal Court of Istanbul found the objection appropriate on 16 January 2019, and lifted the decision. The 29th High Criminal Court of Istanbul then accepted the indictment that it had previously rejected.
The trial concerning Kazım Güleçyüz, the editor-in-chief of Yeni Asya newspaper, and Halil İbrahim Özdabak, a cartoonist for the newspaper commenced with the first hearing at the 29th High Criminal Court of Istanbul on 2 May 2019. The hearing was adjourned for the opinion of the prosecution as to the accusations to be prepared.
The second hearing of the trial took place on 24 September 2019.
The third and final hearing of the trial took place on 23 January 2020. Özdabak attended the hearing with his attorneys, along with Kazım Güleçyüz.
Halil İbrahim Özdabak gave his defensive statements against the opinion of the prosecution. Özdabak demanded his acquittal by stating that he had been drawing political cartoons, and he was not been affiliated with any organisations.
Özdabak and Güleçyüz stated that if sentenced, they would not demand the deferment of the announcement of the verdict or the postponement of the sentence.
Güleçyüz’s attorney Mustafa Özbek stated that they rejected the opinion of the prosecution, and demanded his client’s acquittal.
When asked about their final say, Güleçyüz and Özdabak demanded their acquittal.
The indictment charged Özdabak with “consecutive terrorist organisation propaganda”. However, the court charged Özdabak with “consecutive terrorist organisation propaganda by means of the media”. As a result, the sentence that was already to be increased by between a quarter and three-quarters was increased again by half.
The court ruled that Özdabak be sentenced to imprisonment of one year, six months and 22 days.
The panel of judges ruled that there was no need to defer the announcement of the verdict or to postpone the prison sentence.
The Appeals Process
The attorneys launched an appeal against the ruling immediately afterwards with the Istanbul Circuit Courts of Appeals. The court of appeals’ examination of the ruling is underway.
Duruşma 10:00’da başlayacağı duyurulmuştu; ancak 10:50’de başladı. Gazeteciler Kazım Güleçyüz ve Halil İbrahim Özdabak, avukatları ile birlikte duruşmaya katıldı.
Duruşma savcısı, önceki duruşmada sunduğu esas hakkında mütalaasını açıkladı.
Ardından söz alan Halil İbrahim Özdabak, mütalaaya karşı savunma yaptı. Özdabak, karikatür çizdiğini, herhangi bir örgütle ilişkisi olmadığını ifade ederek, beraatini istedi.
Ardından esasa dair söz alan Kazım Güleçyüz de, herhangi bir örgüt ile ilişkisinin olmadığını, yaptığının sadece gazetecilik olduğunu belirtti.
Güleçyüz, “Ben her hangi bir örgütün propagandasını yapmadım. Beraatimi talep ediyorum. Savcının mütalaasına katılmıyorum” dedi.
Özdabak ve Güleçyüz, ceza verilmesi durumunda hükmün açıklanmasının geri bırakılmasını (HAGB) ve erteleme talep etmediklerini beyan etti.
Avukat Mustafa Özbek, mütalaayı kabul etmediklerini belirterek, müvekkilleri hakkında beraat talebinde bulundu.
Son sözü sorulan Özdabak ve Güleçyüz, “beraatimi istiyorum” dedi.
Son sözlerinin sorulması ardından Ses ve Görüntü Bilişim Sistemi (SEGBİS) kaydını kapatan mahkeme heyeti, kararını açıklamak için duruşmaya 10 dakika ara verdi.
Özdabak ve Güleçyüz, haklarındaki iddianamede, zincirleme şekilde terör örgütü propagandası yapmakla” suçlanmışlarda. Oysa mahkeme, gazetecilere; “zincirleme şekilde, basın ve yayın yoluyla terör örgütü propagandası yapmak” suçlaması yöneltti.
Mahkeme heyeti kararında, Kazım Güleçyüz için “FETÖ” propagandası yapmak suçundan bir yıl hapis cezası verdi. Twitter hesabından paylaşım yaptığını ve bunun basın ve yayın yolu olarak değerlendiren mahkeme heyeti, yarı oranında arttırım yaparak, cezayı bir yıl altı aya çıkardı. Güleçyüz bir yıl 8 ay hapis cezasına çarptırıldı.
Mahkeme heyeti Halil İbrahim Özdabak için “FETÖ” propagansı yapmak gerekçesiyle bir yıl hapis cezası verdi. Suçun basın yoluyla işlendiği gerekçesiyle cezayı, yarı oranında arttırdı ve bir yıl altı ay ceza verdi. Suçun yeniden icrasını göz önünde bulunduran heyet, 1/4 oranında arttırım yaparak, cezayı bir yıl 10 ay 15 güne çıkardı. Cezanın sanık üzerindeki etkisini göz önünde bulunduran heyet, 1/6 oranında indirim yaparak cezayı bir yıl altı ay 22 güne indirdi.
Mahkeme heyeti, hapis cezasına ilişkin hükmün açıklanmasının geri bırakılmasına (HAGB) ve ceza ertelemeye yer olmadığına karar verdi.
Adliye girişinde büyük bir yoğunluk vardı. Adliyenin B, C ve D kapılarında uzun kuyruklar oluştu. Gazeteciler ve izleyiciler, girişte X-ray cihazından geçirildi.
Duruşmanın görüleceği koridorda güvenlik bariyerleri bulunuyordu. Ancak, duruşma öncesi gazeteci ve izleyecilerin bariyerlerde beklemesi yönünde bir zorunluluk getirilmedi. Gazetecilerin duruşma salonu önüne geçmesine izin verildi.
Mahkeme Salonu Koşulları
Mahkeme salonu, İstanbul Adliyesi’ndeki standart salonlardandı. Seyircilere 30 kişilik yer ayrılmıştı. Salonda Ses ve Görüntü Bilişim Sistemi (SEGBİS) için iki ayrı ekran kuruluydu.
Duruşmayı Medya ve Hukuk Çalışmaları Derneği (MLSA) izledi.
Duruşmada olağanüstü bir durum yaşanmadı.
Yargılamanın, İstanbul 29. Ağır Ceza Mahkemesi’nde görülen ikinci duruşması saat 12:55’de başladı.
Duruşma yaklaşık 5 dakika sürdü.
Kazım Güleçyüz, duruşmaya avukatı ile birlikte katıldı.
Güleçyüz, iddianameye konu olan sosyal medya paylaşımlarının bağlamından koparıldığını ve kendisinin hiçbir şekilde örgüt propagandası yapmadığını belirtti.
Avukatı Mustafa Özbek de esas hakkında mütalaaya karşı beyanlarını hazırlamak üzere mahkemeden ek süre talep etti.
Mahkeme heyeti, kararını; duruşmaya ara vermeden açıkladı. Mütalaa karşısındaki savunmaların hazırlanması için duruşma ertelendi.
Yargılamanın 23 Ocak 2020’de görülecek üçüncü duruşma ile devam etmesine karar verildi.
Duruşma öncesinde herhangi bir basın açıklaması ya da destek gösterisi gerçekleşmedi.
Mahkeme Salonu Koşulları
Duruşmanın görüldüğü salon küçüktü. Salonda, izleyiciler için 25 kişilik oturma yeri ayrılmıştı. Avukat ve sanıklar için de ayrı ayrı yerler hazırlanmıştı.
15 izleyici salona alındı. Kalan beş kişilik yer de gazetecilere ayrıldı.
Duruşmayı, bazı haber ajansları takip etti.
Yaklaşık 5 dakika süren duruşmada, mahkeme heyeti duruşma tutanağını yazmasına rağmen avukatlara vermedi.
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