İhsan Duran Dağı is an academic and columnist. Within the scope of the Zaman Newspaper Main Trial, he was taken under custody for 3 days and then released. The prosecutor demanded a sentence of up to three times aggravated life imprisonment and an additional imprisonment of 7.5 to 15 years for “being a member of an armed organization” (314/2). He was pending trial upon the charges of coup plotting and terrorism.
İhsan Duran Dağı was taken into custody for “being a member of FETÖ/PDY terrorist organization” on July 27, 2016. He was held in custody for 3 days. He was released after being interrogated by the prosecutor without being taken to court on July 30, 2016. Upon the decision of the court, his property was confiscated. It was claimed that he was financing the terrorist organization or gaining property by using his privileges as a member of a terrorist organization.
The indictment against Dağı was completed by the Istanbul Public Prosecutor Office’s Bureau of Terror and Organizational Crimes member İsmet Bozkurt on April 10, 2017. The 64-page indictment was sent to the court on April 11, 2017 and accepted by the Istanbul 13th Criminal Court on April 24, 2017.
The indictment against İhsan Duran Dağı started with the organization’s aim, sources of income and armed force, like many other indictments of FETÖ trials. This section took almost 20 pages. It was mentioned that the media institutions the journalists work for are associated with FETÖ. The indictment included some other journalists who were not suspects. The charges against the defendants were later mentioned.
It was claimed that Dağı was one of the media forces of FETÖ. It was also asserted that he was taking part in the organization for removing the constitutional order, the parliament and the government.
Dağı was charged for three columns published in the Zaman newspaper. All of the columns were written after the 17-25 December corruption and bribery operation. The operation was conducted in 2013 and highly influenced the public opinion then, as the names of some cabinet members and their sons were included in the crime. In one of his columns Dağı was comparing Turkey to a plane,saying that the route of the plane had changed. He also asked whether the passengers would change the route of the plane or not. In another column, he wrote:
“I was wrong; the people I regard as advocates of freedom have become authoritarians in the last few years. Moreover, an irreversible structure, a regime is being constructed. Let alone the freedoms, I think our social peace is at stake now.”
It was stated that Dağı was not just oppositional through his columns. Though there was no explicit element of criminality in his words, it was claimed that he was exceeding the limits of freedom of press and expression. It was also asserted that his columns were violating the rights of state authorities and institutions. The columns were bearing a potential to disturb the composure, the peace and the order of the society. It was claimed that Dağı did not hesitate to call for a military coup.
The prosecutor demanded a sentence of up to three times aggravated life imprisonment and an additional imprisonment of 7.5 to 15 years for him. He was charged for “attempting to remove the constitutional order, the parliament and the Turkish Republic as well as preventing them from doing their tasks” and “being a member of an armed organization” (314/2).
The first hearing of the trial was held on Sept. 18-19 at the Istanbul 13th Criminal Court. The courthouse was in the Silivri Prison. Thus, only the detainees gave their defenses in the first hearing.
The second hearing was held on Dec. 8, 2017. In his first defense, Dağı stated that after the 17-25 December corruption and bribery operation, he stopped writing columns for the Zaman newspaper. He added that “I quit writing for the newspaper when I realized that journalism had turned out to be making propaganda for FETÖ.” He also said that he was charged simply for being a columnist at the Zaman newspaper regardless of the content of his columns.
The third hearing was held on April 5, 2018. The prosecutor İsmet Bozkurt stated his opinion regarding the accusations. He demanded aggravated life imprisonment for “attempting to remove the constitutional order” and a sentence of imprisonment of 7.5 to 15 years for “being a member of a terrorist organization.”
After the prosecutor stated his opinion, he changed his demand regarding Dağı and the other four defendants. The charges of “attempting to remove the constitutional order” and “being a member of a terrorist organization” were lowered for Dağı. Instead, he was charged with “making propaganda for a terrorist organization successively.” Thus, the sentence demanded for Dağı was lowered to 13 years of imprisonment.
The sixth hearing was held on July 6, 2018 and the court made its decision. Dağı was acquitted of all the charges and all the judicial control measures against him were removed.
The Istanbul Public Prosecutor’s Office objected to the decision about the acquittal of Dağı at the Court of Appeal. Istanbul Regional Courthouse’s 2nd Penal Chamber approved the verdict of acquittal on June 25, 2019.