Hüseyin Aydın

Hüseyin Aydın was a correspondent for the now-closed Cihan News Agency.

Cihan News Agency was closed by a statutory decree issued 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.

Aydın was detained on 30 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 referred to the court to be remanded following the prosecutor’s questioning.

The court ruled Aydın to be remanded on the charge of “membership of an armed organisation” on 30 July 2016. He was taken to the Silivri Closed High Security Prison.

Aydın spent approximately six months in prison awaiting the indictment to be prepared. The indictment which was completed on 16 January 2017 charged Aydın with “membership of an armed organisation”. The prosecution demanded that Aydın be sentenced to imprisonment of between five years and 10 years.

The court ruled Aydın to be released pending trial at the first hearing of the trial on 31 March 2017. However, he was detained again before having been released from prison.

Aydın 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 as part of a new investigation. The custody procedures lasted for 14 days. Aydın was placed in custody again on 14 April 2017 on charges of “attempting to destroy the constitutional order” and “attempting to destroy the government”.

The second indictment charged Aydın with “attempting to destroy the constitutional order” and “attempting to destroy the government”. The prosecution demanded that Aydın be sentenced to two aggravated life sentences.

The two indictments were merged.

At the end of the trial, Aydın 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. The Court of Cassation finalised the sentence on 16 March 2020.

Aydın had been in prison for three years and seven months when the imprisonment sentence of six years and three months was finalised.

"Media Structure" Trial

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”.

Hüseyin Aydın, a correspondent for the now-closed Cihan News Agency was one of the people under investigation.

Aydın was detained in Istanbul on 30 July 2016. He was taken to the Gayrettepe Public Security Branch Office of the Istanbul Directorate of Security. The custody procedures lasted for three days. Aydın was then taken to the Çağlayan Courthouse.

Aydın was referred to the court to be remanded following the prosecutor’s questioning. Following the court’s questioning, Aydın was placed in custody the same day on the charge of “membership of an armed organisation”. He was taken to the Silivri Closed High Security Prison.

Aydın spent approximately six months in prison awaiting the indictment to be completed. The indictment concerning 29 people, 27 of whom were journalists, including Hüseyin Aydın was completed on 16 January 2017.

The indictment concerning 29 defendants, 27 of whom were journalists, including Hüseyin Aydın, a correspondent for the now-closed Cihan News Agency, was completed 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 indictment stated that although he was not invited, Aydın wanted to attend an event called “Günışığı Projesi” [Sunlight Project] which was held with the participation of Emine Erdoğan, President Tayyip Erdoğan’s spouse. Aydın later stated that he wanted to follow this event in a journalistic capacity, but was prevented from doing so. The indictment listed 13 social media outputs sent by Aydın’s social media account as “elements of crime”. The indictment listed the following outputs:

. “They won’t be sated! What kind of an appetite is this?”; “God willing, Fatih University will be the last piece and you will choke on it!”

. “The trial of Hidayet Karaca and the police officers who were being tried in remand was adjourned to the last week of Ramadan.”; “Kazım Aksoy was a defendant at the trial of Tahşiye [congregation]. The hearing is in recess. Now he is a defendant at the trial for 25 December [i.e. 17-25 December 2013 operation].”; “If you walked out of the Tahşiye trial and in to the 25 December trial, you wouldn’t notice the difference. The allegations and what’s being said are all the same.”

. “Tahşiye member Turgut Yıldırım (of the Gülen Movement): These people stick like gum. They do not leave the people they met in peace. They demand newspapers, animals for sacrifice, scholarships. The allegations and what’s being said are all the same.”

. “So this association supports the terrorist organisation and the police come and go as they please, is that right?”
. “You are satisfied neither with leaving people jobless or with imprisoning them! When did you go so blind with greed?”
. “The public administrator has decimated Zaman [newspaper] and Cihan [News Agency].”
. “Breaking news! 7 people who were detained in a hate operation in Kırıkkale were released.”
. “They’ve appointed public administrators to Service [Gülen] movement schools in Ordu too. They know no limits!”

The indictment also Aydın’s belongings that were confiscated during the house search. However, the indictment did not give details about or base accusations on the materials. It is worth noting that the indictment also listed a confiscated book titled “Rüya Tabirleri Ansiklopedisi – 2” [Encyclopaedia of Dream Interpretations - 2].

Aydın’s Bank Asya account activity was cited as evidence. The indictment asserted that Aydın “had deposited money to Bank Asya with Fethullah Gülen’s instructions after an investigation had commenced concerning the bank”.

It was asserted that Aydın “was a member of the organisation and had participated in activities on behalf of the organisation”.

The indictment charged Aydın with “membership of an armed organisation” in accordance with Article 314/2 of the Turkish Penal Code. The prosecution demanded that Aydın be sentenced to imprisonment of between five years and 10 years. It was also demanded that Aydın “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 defendants, of whom 27 were journalists, including Hüseyin Aydın, a correspondent for the now-closed Cihan News Agency, commenced with the hearing at the 25th High Criminal Court of Istanbul on 27-31 March 2017. Aydın 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 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 the 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 that 13 journalists including Hüseyin Aydın be released pending trial. The court added eight more journalists to the 13 people to be released pending trial. Thus, 21 journalists were released. The court prohibited the journalists from leaving the country.

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. Despite the release order, the 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 including Hüseyin Aydın, whose release the prosecutor for the hearing had demanded and the court ruled accordingly. Aydın was charged with “attempting a coup”.

Thus, none of the journalists for whom release orders were issued were released on 31 March 2017.

The journalists for whom a release order was issued were taken to the Istanbul Directorate of Security on Vatan Boulevard while their families waited for them outside Silivri High Security Prison. The custody procedures here lasted for approximately two weeks.

12 out of 13 journalists including Aydın, who were detained again after their release were brought before the court after the custody procedures had ended, on 14 April 2017. They were remanded by the 2nd Criminal Court of Peace of Istanbul the same day on charges of “attempting to destroy the constitutional order” and “attempting to destroy the Government of the Republic of Turkey”.

The arrest warrant included the “risk of flight” of the journalists as a justification. However, the court had prohibited the journalists from travelling abroad in its release order.

The president and two members of the panel of judges who issued the 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 June 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.

SECOND INDICTMENT

Meanwhile, the second indictment concerning the 13 journalists who were ordered to be released at the end of the first hearing of the trial, but were detained again as part of a new investigation was presented to the same court on 5 June 2017.

The second indictment by the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office of Istanbul charged the 13 journalists with “attempting to alter perceptions in line with the aims of the organisation by means of the written and visual media and the internet”.

The second indictment asserted that Aydın “had stayed at a hotel in Ankara, which was under FETÖ’s control, in December 2013”. It was asserted that “open-source research indicated there were private/secret rooms in this hotel”.

Similar to the first indictment, the second indictment also cited as evidence Aydın’s Bank Asya account activities. The indictment asserted that “the cash deposit was aimed to back the organisation”. It was asserted that “the businesses where Aydın made transactions with the credit card belonging to this bank were also institutions tied to FETÖ”.

The second indictment asserted that “there were records indicating Aydın had used the ByLock application that had been found in many court rulings to be a communication tool used by FETÖ”. It was asserted that Aydın had 17 separate conversations through this application or with people who also had this application on their phone.

The indictment asserted that 13 defendants including Aydın were “media elements of the FETÖ/PDY armed terrorist organisation”. The prosecution demanded Aydın be sentenced on the charge of “taking part in the organisation’s activities to alter perceptions”.

Aydın was charged with “attempting to destroy the order stipulated by the Constitution of the Republic of Turkey by means of coercion and violence or replace this order with another or prevent this order from effectively being implemented” in accordance with Article 309/1 of the Turkish Penal Code. In addition, he was charged with “attempting to destroy the Government of the Republic of Turkey or to prevent it from fulfilling its responsibilities partially or entirely by means of coercion and violence” in accordance with Article 312/1 of the Turkish Penal Code. Within this scope, the prosecution demanded that Aydın be sentenced to two aggravated life sentences. It was also demanded that Aydın’s sentence be increased by half in accordance with Article 5 of the Law on Anti-Terrorism.

The first hearing of the trial for the second indictment took place on 16-18 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. After the documents submitted to the court concerning “Bank Asya accounts and ByLock use” were read, defendant journalists and their attorneys briefly spoke. At the end of the hearing, the court ruled that the trial be continued by merging the two indictments.

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 Hüseyin Aydın be acquitted of charges of “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”. The opinion of the prosecution demanded that Hüseyin Aydın be sentenced on the charge of “membership of an armed terrorist organisation”.

Following the opinion of the prosecution journalists’ attorneys objected to the sentence demanded despite the existence of some evidence being in favour of the journalists. Attorneys also stated that there was no tangible evidence concerning the charge of “membership of a terrorist organisation”.

The final hearing of the trial took place on 7-8 March 2018. At the end of the hearing, the journalists were asked about their final say regarding the opinion of the prosecution. Aydın said: “The ruling you will deliver today means death for the people who are to remain in prison. My spouse is suffering. Save me from this mire.” The panel of judges delivered its ruling on 8 March 2018.

The court ruled that Aydın be acquitted of charges of “attempting to destroy the constitutional order” and “attempting to destroy the Government of the Republic of Turkey or prevent it from fulfilling its responsibilities”. However, Aydın was sentenced to imprisonment of six years and three months on charges of “membership of an armed terrorist organisation”.

Thus, Aydın was acquitted of the charges in the second indictment that was prepared after the journalists who were released in the first hearing of the trial were remanded over the second investigation despite the initial release order.

The court ruled that Aydın should continue to be held in remand.

The Appeals Process

Journalist Hüseyin Aydın’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 lawful according to the methods and procedures. It was asserted that “the evidence in the file was sufficient for establishing the crime”.

The Court of Cassation Process

Journalist Hüseyin Aydın’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 Hüseyin Aydın was approved by the Chamber. The Court of Cassation ruled that the procedures concerning Aydın were carried out lawfully, all evidence was collected in accordance with the law, and the defensive statements were heard in full. It was stated that the ruling was based on unequivocal, consistent and non-conflicting data.

The imprisonment sentence concerning Hüseyin Aydın was then finalised.

Aydın had been in prison for three years and seven months when the imprisonment sentence was finalised.

He is currently serving his sentence as a convict at Silivri Prison.

"Media Structure" Trial (Reasoned Judgement)

"Media Structure" Trial (The Court of Cassation's Judgement)

"Media Structure" Trial (Indictment)

"Media Structure" Trial (Indictment)

Contact: pressinarrest@gmail.com

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