Güleçyüz has been the editor-in-chief of Yeni Asya newspaper since 1992.
Güleçyüz graduated from the Faculty of Law at Istanbul University. From his university years onwards, he worked at many publications of the Yeni Asya Publishing Group, which is known as the publishing organ of the Nur congregation. He is the author of 22 published books.
Güleçyüz was put on trial over 14 social media outputs, two columns, and 13 news reports and one political cartoon published in Yeni Asya newspaper, where was the editor-in-chief. He was charged with “consecutive terrorist organisation propaganda”. The prosecution demanded that Güleçyüz and Halil İbrahim Özdabak be sentenced to imprisonment of between one year and three months and eight years and nine months.
Güleçyüz was sentenced to one year and eight months of imprisonment at the third hearing of the trial on 23 January 2020. The announcement of the verdict was not deferred. The sentence was not postponed.
The court of appeals’ examination of the ruling is underway.
The Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office of Istanbul began an investigation after receiving reports concerning Kazım Güleçyüz, the editor-in-chief of Yeni Asya newspaper, and Halil İbrahim Özdabak, the cartoonist of the newspaper in October 2018.
The reports asserted that Güleçyüz and Özdabak “carrying out propaganda to legitimise the acts of the FETÖ armed terrorist organisation”.
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.
The Istanbul Directorate of Security began an investigation upon the received reports concerning Güleçyüz and Özdabak on allegations of “terrorist organisation propaganda”. As part of the investigation, Yeni Asya newspaper’s headlines dating from 1 January 2014 were examined. Kazım Güleçyüz’s social media accounts were also investigated.
Güleçyüz denied the charges in his statement to the prosecutor’s office. He stated that the accusations were unfounded considering the general publishing policy of Yeni Asya newspaper. He stated that “his aim had been to warn and criticise so the FETÖ investigations would not lead to victimisation”.
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 Güleçyüz over 14 social media outputs on his Twitter account which criticised the developments following the military coup attempt of 15 July 2016. Some of the outputs are as follows:
• “So, the ‘coup plotters’ who detained the secretary-general of the president waited for Erdoğan to leave to occupy and bomb the hotel he was staying, right?”
• “Nobody with a conscience can accept that reckoning with 15 July should turn into a massacre of innocent people who had nothing to do with the coup or acts of terrorism.”
Two columns written by Güleçyüz at the end of 2014 which criticised the investigation and the operation against the now-closed Zaman newspaper and Samanyolu TV were cited as evidence to support the charges. The indictment included the following statements by Güleçyüz:
“You appear ridiculous when you try to retaliate for the coup you claimed to be initiated against yourselves by plotting a coup one year later against the media… Detaining journalists at their place of work on allegations based on irrational suspicions and taking them to the police station to be put in custody is a new source of shame for the country.”
13 news reports published by Yeni Asya Newspaper where Güleçyüz was the editor-in-chief dating from 1 January 2014 were also cited as evidence. Some of these news reports were about the developments during the State of Emergency period following the military coup attempt of 15 July 2016.
It asserted that Güleçyüz “had been trying to make the FETÖ armed terrorist organisation, its members and administrators appear innocent or victimised”. It was asserted that Güleçyüz “had been trying to depict the investigations and prosecutions against the FETÖ armed terrorist organisation as acts of oppression directed at victims”. Güleçyüz was charged with “aiding attempts at trivialising” the investigations and prosecutions against FETÖ. Güleçyüz was also charged with “introducing organisation leader Fetullah Gülen to the public as a religious congregation by quoting his words and statements”.
The indictment demanded that Güleçyüz be sentenced to imprisonment of between one year and five years in accordance with Article 7/2 of the Law on Anti-Terrorism which governs the crime of “terrorist organisation propaganda”. The prosecution demanded that the sentence be increased by a quarter to three-quarters in accordance with Article 43 of the Turkish Penal Code, and on grounds that “the crime was committed on multiple counts”. The prosecution therefore demanded that Güleçyüz be sentenced to imprisonment of between one year and three months and eight years and nine months. It was also demanded that Güleçyüz “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. The 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 of 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.
Güleçyüz stated that he had been in publishing for 41 years and had been an active journalist for 27 years. He stated that he had defended the law, justice, democracy, rights and freedoms and peace while standing firmly against coups and acts of terror in all of his written work, books and speeches. Güleçyüz stated that the indictment charged him with the exact opposite of his stance. He denied the charges.
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 panel of judges had changed. The prosecutor for the hearing demanded corrections for the points omitted from the file.
The third and final hearing of the trial took place on 23 January 2020. The panel of judges had changed again. Güleçyüz attended the hearing with Halil İbrahim Özbadak and attorneys.
In his defensive statement against the opinion of the prosecution as to the accusations, Güleçyüz stated that he was not affiliated with any organisations, and he was only a journalist. Güleçyüz stated the following: “I have never propagandised for any organisation. I demand my acquittal. I reject the opinion of the prosecution.”
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 had denied the opinion of the prosecution, and demanded his client’s acquittal.
When asked about his final say, Güleçyüz demanded his acquittal.
The indictment charged Güleçyüz with “consecutive terrorist organisation propaganda”. However, the court charged Güleçyüz 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 Güleçyüz be sentenced to imprisonment of one year and eight months.
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’ investigation concerning the ruling is on-going.
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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