Olgun Matur started out as a journalist at Yeni İleri newspaper published in Antalya in 1992. He then worked at E TV and Akdeniz TV. He worked as the press consultant for the mayor of Döşemealtı District Municipality in Antalya between 2012 and 2019.
Matur acquired the ownership of Bizim Antalya newspaper in 2012. The newspaper continued in both print and as an internet news website for a while. Matur also acted as the executive editor of the same newspaper. On the date Matur was detained, the newspaper was still active as an internet news website.
The Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office of Antalya launched an investigation concerning Matur on the allegation of “FETO membership”. He was detained on 23 July 2016. The custody procedures lasted for three days. He was placed in custody on 26 July 2016 on the allegation of “membership of an armed terrorist organisation”. He was sent to Antalya Type L Prison.
Matur spent approximately eight months in prison awaiting the indictment concerning him to be completed. The indictment dated 22 March 2017 charged him with “membership of an armed terrorist organisation”. The prosecution demanded that Matur be sentenced to imprisonment of between seven years and six months and 15 years.
Matur was released pending trial on 29 March 2017 after the indictment was accepted. He was prohibited from travelling abroad. However, the prosecutor’s office filed an objection against the release order. Matur was remanded again on 1 April 2017 by the ruling issued by the court which accepted the objection of the prosecutor’s office.
Matur was released pending trial at the second hearing of the trial held on 24 May 2017. He was prohibited from travelling abroad. He had been in prison for approximately 10 months when he was released from the prison.
The trial concerning Matur is currently underway. Matur is standing trial without remand.
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”.
Another investigation based on similar allegations commenced a week after the attempted military coup of 15 July 2016 in Antalya. The Office for the Investigation of Crimes Against the Constitutional Order of the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office of Antalya started an investigation on journalists and some people from various occupations over allegations of being connected with the journalists on 23 July 2016.
The same day, the Governor’s Office of Antalya released a statement to Anadolu Agency, the public news agency, stating that “the Antalya Police Department organised an operation against “‘FETO’s media branch.’”
Olgun Matur, the owner and writer of “Bizim Antalya” internet website, was detained on 23 July 2016 as part of this investigation. Two of his notebook computers, a memory card and his mobile phone were confiscated.
Matur was charged with “membership of an armed terrorist organisation”.
According to the indictment, Matur stated in the statement he gave to the Directorate of Counter-Terrorism Branch during the investigation process that “they did not receive any instructions from the organisation as the newspaper, the website was not shut down and continued to be published, they did not make any news regarding the organisation and access to the website was not restricted”. Matur stated that he had no connection to the organisation whatsoever. He did not accept the charges.
The custody procedures lasted for three days. Matur was remanded by the ruling of the 3rd Court of Peace of Antalya on 26 July 2016. He was sent to Antalya Type L Prison.
Journalists Tuncer Çetinkaya, Özkan Mayda, Cihan Ünal, Kenan Baş, Ömer Özdemir and Osman Yakut, who were detained on the same date with Matur, were also remanded on the same date by the ruling of the same court of peace. Serhat Şeftali, who was detained on 27 August 2016 over the same investigation, was remanded on 5 September 2016 by the ruling of the 2nd Court of Peace of Antalya.
Matur and other journalists spent approximately eight months in prison awaiting the indictment concerning them to be completed. The indictment concerning the journalists was completed on 22 March 2017.
The Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office of Antalya launched another investigation concerning the journalists. Olgun Matur, as well as the other journalists Cihat Ünal, Serhat Şeftali, Ömer Özdemir, Kenan Baş, Osman Yakut, Cihat Ünal and Özkan Mayda were charged with “attempting to destroy the constitutional order” under the second investigation. However, the prosecutor’s office dropped this investigation over the lack of grounds for legal action due to “the lack of evidence”.
The indictment concerning Olgun Matur, publisher and writer of “Bizim Antalya” internet news website, along with the other journalists working in Antalya was completed by the Office for the Investigation of Crimes against the Constitutional Order of the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office of Antalya on 22 March 2017.
The first sections of the 66-page indictment listed “Fetullah Terrorist Organisation’s (FETO/PDY) foundation, aim, socio-cultural and intellectual structure, its attempts to establish a state, administrative and hierarchical structure, intelligence network, illegal structure, communication methods, and financial structure”.
The indictment then listed allegations against “Bizim Antalya” internet news website owned by Olgun Matur, where he also wrote articles.
The indictment listed allegations against Antalya Gazetesi and Cihan News Agency that were shut down by Statutory Decrees issued under the State of Emergency.
During the State of Emergency period declared following the military coup attempt on 15 July 2016, the government shut down many media outlets by statutory decrees that were put into effect without the parliament’s approval.
The indictment then listed allegations against Olgun Matur. The indictment stated that Matur was the owner and the publisher of “Bizim Antalya” internet news website.
It was asserted that “there were statements on the website owned by Matur that were used by the FETO/PDY terrorist organisation following the 17-25 December operation”. It was asserted that Matur “had shared outputs in his social media account that turned the government into a potential target and praised the FETO organisation”.
Three ministers in the Justice and Development Party government cabinet and their children were involved in allegations of corruption and bribery within the operation publicly known as the “17-25 December bribery and corruption operation” launched at the end of 2013.
It was stated that Matur was included in the investigation due to allegations of “having written articles and published news in favour of FETO/PDY” in addition to the reasons mentioned above.
The indictment cited as evidence the full texts of Matur’s articles published in March 2014, November 2015 and April 2016 on the “Bizim Antalya” website which he owned.
Matur wrote about the detention of Ramazan Keskin, an 80-year old businessman from Antalya in his article under the headline, “If you want to see dignity, look at the face of Uncle Ramazan”. The indictment asserted that Matur “had criticised the operations carried out against FETO/PDY terrorist organisation, attempted to form a public opinion by influencing the masses, and attempted to display the institutions affiliated with the organisation as victims” over his article.
The indictment asserted that Matur “had written and shared outputs on his Twitter account which suggested that he was a member of the organisation”. In addition, it was asserted that Matur “was following [the social media accounts of] the supporters and media outlets of FETO/PDY terrorist organisation”. However, the indictment did not include the contents of the outputs or which accounts Matur had followed.
It was asserted that Matur “had ensured distribution of a pamphlet called ‘Dershane Gerçeği’ [The Truth About Exams Preparation Courses], which contained statements of the FETO terrorist organisation and propaganda regarding the education system and educational facilities” in the form of supplementary pages to Bizim Antalya newspaper on 12 March 2014.
The indictment cited as evidence a report to the authorities that “posters and leaflets were to be published during the Antalya visit of the President Tayyip Erdoğan, who was Prime Minister in March 2014” at the printers which also printed Matur’s newspaper. It was asserted that the leaflets and posters to be published “aimed to incite the masses against the Prime Minister”, and “would be used as propaganda tools”.
The indictment also charged Matur with “cooperating with Tuncer Çetinkaya, former Antalya Regional Representative of Zaman newspaper” who was also listed as a suspect in the indictment. The indictment stated that Çetinkaya’s articles were published on “Bizim Antalya” owned by Matur.
The indictment charged Matur with “membership of an armed terrorist organisation” in accordance with Article 314/2 of the Turkish Penal Code and Article 5 of the Law on Anti-Terrorism. The prosecution demanded that Matur be sentenced to imprisonment of between seven years and six months and 15 years.
The prosecution demanded the same sentence on the same charge for journalists Tuncer Çetinkaya, Özkan Mayda, Cihat Ünal, Kenan Baş, Ömer Özdemir, Osman Yakut and Serhat Şeftali.
It was also demanded that the journalists “be deprived of the enjoyment of certain rights” in accordance with Article 53 of the Turkish Penal Code.
The indictment concerning Matur and other journalists was accepted by the 2nd High Criminal Court of Antalya on 29 March 2017.
The journalists had been in prison for approximately eight months when the indictment was accepted.
Matur was released pending trial after the indictment was accepted by the 3rd High Criminal Court of Antalya, and was prohibited from travelling abroad on 30 March 2017. However, the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office of Antalya objected to court’s release order. An arrest warrant was issued concerning Matur on 1 April 2017, and he was placed in custody again.
Matur’s attorney Mehmet Can Aksoy objected to the ruling concerning Matur that lifted the release order. The objection was rejected by the 4th High Criminal Court of Antalya on 10 April 2017.
The trial concerning the journalists including Olgun Matur, owner and columnist of “Bizim Antalya” internet news website, commenced with the first hearing at the 2nd High Criminal Court of Antalya on 11 April 2017.
The panel of judges at the first hearing was different from the one that accepted the indictment.
Matur attended the first hearing with his attorney. Matur replied to the allegations which asserted that posters and leaflets were printed regarding President Tayyip Erdoğan, Prime minister at the time, at the printers which also printed Bizim Antalya newspaper by stating that the indictment had confused Bizim Antalya newspaper for Antalya Gazetesi. He reminded the court that the owner of the printers had stated during the investigation process that the leaflets were to do with Antalya Gazetesi.
Matur stated that the articles cited as evidence in the indictment “were written within the scope of freedom of the press”. Matur added that the articles “did not contain a single word of coercion or violence”.
He stated that the two messages listed in the indictment that were allegedly sent from his social media account did not belong to him. Matur stated the following in his defensive statement at the first hearing:
“My company is active. There are no charges about me that would constitute membership of a terrorist organisation. My newspaper was not shut down by statutory decrees. No legal actions were carried out against the newspaper’s personnel. Our newspaper was not in any way censored.”
The court ruled that Olgun Matur should continue to be held in remand.
The second hearing of the trial took place on 24 May 2017. The panel of judges had changed at this hearing.
It was observed that the Security Directorate of Antalya had replied to the court’s written inquiry regarding whether or not there were records indicating that Matur had used “the ByLock application that had been found to be a communication tool used by FETO”. The Security Directorate stated that they had not found any records of the ByLock application being installed in Matur’s mobile phone.
Matur stated the following at this hearing: “Principles of fair trial and equality have been violated. People who were tried on similar charges with me are not under arrest. For example, the person whose newspaper was shut down is being tried without remand. My newspaper was not shut down, and is still being published.”
Matur also stated the following: “I am being accused of membership of an armed organisation. I am a journalist. My articles fall within the scope of freedom of speech and the press.”
The court ordered Olgun Matur’s release. However, the court prohibited Matur from travelling abroad. Matur had been in prison for 10 months when he was released. Journalist Özkan Mayda who was being tried along with Matur was also released pending trial.
The third hearing of the trial took place on 6 October 2017. At this hearing, the report regarding the examination of Matur’s computer by Antalya Counterterrorism Branch was read. Matur replied to the security directorate report by stating, “I am a journalist. The examined computer is the one I use at the newspaper’s office. We were using the photograph of Fetullah Gülen in the news.”
Matur’s attorney Mehmet Can Aksoy demanded that the judicial supervision of prohibition on travelling abroad be lifted. Attorney Aksoy stated that the report did not include an examination of the social media messages about which Matur stated that did not belong to him. He added, “This means that these outputs were not shared by my client.” He stated that the court could acquire information from the Twitter website if it had doubts regarding this matter.
The court rejected the demand for lifting Matur’s prohibition on travelling abroad.
The fourth hearing of the trial took place on 8 December 2017. The prosecutor for the hearing presented the opinion of the prosecution as to the accusations at this hearing.
The opinion of the prosecution charged Matur, in keeping with the indictment, with “membership of an armed terrorist organisation” in accordance with Article 314/2 of the Turkish Penal Code and Article 5 of the Law on Anti-Terrorism. The prosecution demanded that Matur be sentenced to imprisonment of between seven years and six months and 15 years.
Against the opinion of the prosecution as to the accusations, Matur stated that there was no concrete evidence against him. He demanded additional time in order to prepare his defensive statement. Matur’s attorney Mehmet Can Aksoy also demanded additional time for the defensive statements. The hearing was adjourned.
The fifth hearing of the trial took place on 1 February 2018. The panel of judges had changed once again at this hearing. The prosecutor for the hearing repeated the opinion of the prosecution as to the accusations presented at the last hearing. Matur also repeated his previous defensive statement.
The sixth hearing of the trial took place on 24 April 2018. The panel of judges had not changed at this hearing. The prosecutor for the hearing repeated the opinion of the prosecution as to the accusations presented at the last hearing.
The court announced its ruling at this hearing. The court sentenced Tuncer Çetinkaya, who was being tried with other journalists including Matur, to imprisonment of seven years and six months on the charge of “membership of an armed terrorist organisation”. Çetinkaya was released pending trial on grounds of poor health after the ruling.
The court ruled that the case files of Matur and other journalists be separated. It was ruled that the prosecution be continued under the same court with a different case number.
The seventh hearing of the trial, first since the case file was separated, took place on 12 October 2018. The entirety of panel of judges had changed at this hearing. Matur’s attorneys demanded that the prohibition on travelling abroad be lifted. The demand was rejected, and the hearing was adjourned.
The eighth hearing of the trial, second since the case file was separated, took place on 12 March 2019. The panel of judges had changed at this hearing. The hearing was adjourned in order to complete the correspondence regarding other defendants.
The ninth hearing of the trial, third since the case file was separated, took place on 11 October 2019. The panel of judges had changed at this hearing. Matur did not attend the hearing. Matur was represented by his attorney Ecehan Erol at the hearing. The hearing was adjourned in order to complete the correspondence regarding other defendants.
The court ruled that the indictment concerning Hasan Yavaşlar, the managing editor-in-chief of the now-closed Antalya Gazetesi and Ali Orhan, the owner of the newspaper be merged with this case file. The merged indictment charged Yavaşlar with “knowingly and willingly aiding the armed terrorist organisation despite not being a part of its hierarchical structure”, and the prosecution demanded him to be sentenced to imprisonment of between seven years and six months and 15 years. The court ruled that the case files be merged following the second hearing of the trial concerning Orhan and Yavaşlar.
The tenth hearing of the trial, fourth since the case file was separated, took place on 7 February 2020. Matur attended the hearing with his attorney.
The court ruled that the prohibition on travelling abroad be lifted on the condition that the defendants with travel prohibitions present documents which prove there are educational, medical or work-related reasons requiring them to travel abroad.
The court ruled that all defendants including the journalists be exempted from the hearings. The court ruled to lift mandatory attendance to the hearings.
The eleventh hearing of the trial, fifth since the case file was separated, was scheduled for 21 May 2020. However, due to the precautionary measures against the coronavirus pandemic, the hearing was postponed.
The twelfth hearing of the trial, sixth since the case file was separated, took place on 25 September 2020. The panel of judges had changed at this hearing. Matur did not attend the hearing.
The court ruled that the case file be sent to the prosecutor’s office for the opinion of the prosecution as to the accusations to be prepared.
The court set the date for the thirteenth hearing of the trial, seventh since the case was separated, as 12 January 2021.
Mahkeme heyetinin yerini alması ile birlikte, duruşma önceki celsede belirlenen saatinde başladı. Duruşmada, yargılanan gazeteciler Cihat Ünal, Kenan Baş, Olgun Matur, Ömer Özdemir, Osman Yakut, Özkan Mayda, Ali Orhan, Hasan Yavaşlar ve Serhat Şeftali ile avukatları hazır bulundu.
Duruşmada ilk olarak duruşma savcısı esas hakkındaki mütalaasını mahkeme heyetine sundu.
Mütalaada yargılanan gazeteciler Olgun Matur, Özkan Mayda, Osman Yakut, Cihat Ünal, Kenan Baş, Ömer Özdemir ve Serhat Şeftali’nin “Terör Örgütüne Üye Olmak” suçundan cezalandırılması istendi. 7 Gazeteci için TMK 5 maddesinin uygulanarak cezanın yarı oranında arttırılması istendi.
Mütalaada, gazeteciler Ali Orhan ve Hasan Yavaşlar hakkında da beraat talep edildi.
Mütalaaya karşı söz alan gazetecilerin avukatları, savunma yapmak için süre talep etti.
Mahkeme heyeti, tarafların savunma için süre taleplerini kabul ederek, duruşmayı 4 Mayıs 2021 tarihine, saat 09:30’a bırakılmasına karar verdi.
Koronavirüs pandemisi karşısında alınan önlemler kapsamında, Antalya Adliyesine girişler sınırlandırıldı. Adliye girişinde bulunan görevliler adliye içerisinde resmi işi olmayan hiç kimseyi bina içerisine almadı. Binaya giren vatandaşların HES kodu incelendi.
Mahkeme Başkanı, kararı açıkladığı sırada yargılanan gazetecilere ve diğer sanıklara “Kendinizi savunacağınız bol bol süreniz olacak” demesi dikkat çekti.
Yargılamanın 12. duruşması, saatinde başladı. Mahkeme heyetinin değiştiği gözlendi.
Yargılanan gazeteciler Ömer Özdemir, Cihat Ünal, Özkan Mayda ve Hasan Yavaşlar, duruşmaya; avukatları ile birlikte katıldı. Diğer gazeteciler ise avukatları temsil etti.
Mahkeme Başkanı, Antalya Cumhuriyet Başsavcılığı’nın, bir telefon hattı üzerindeki Bylock programının Mayda tarafından kullanılmış olabileceğine ilişkin yazısının dosyaya eklendiğini açıkladı.
Mayda, dosyaya eklenen yeni belge karşısında; “Ben Bylock kullanmadım. Bylock tespit edildiği yazılı olan hattı benim kullanmadığımı, bu hattı arkadaşımın kullandığını ikinci celsede söylediğim için zaten, tahliye olmuştum” dedi. Arkadaşının tanık olarak dinlendiğini, hattı kendisinin kullandığını kabul ettiğini; kendisinin de yargılandığını ve ceza aldığını belirtti. Yeni belgeyi kabul etmedi.
Mayda’nın avukatı Münip Ermiş ise, Mayda’nın Temmuz ayında tutuklandığını, ByLock uygulamasına kullandığı yönündeki iddianın ise Eylül ayında kayda geçtiğini anımsattı. Buna rağmen, savcılığın; Bylock iddiası karşısında Mayda’nın savunmasını almadığını dile getirdi. Avukat Ermiş, Bylock uygulamasının yüklü olduğu iddiasıyla tutuklanan kişi yönünden delil mahiyetinde olan savcılık belgesinin Mayda yönünden delilmiş gibi gönderilmesinin de yanlış olduğunu dile getirdi.
Gazeteci Serhat Şeftali’nin avukatı Halil Istıl ise Şeftali’nin mal varlığı üzerindeki tedbirin kaldırılmasını talep etti.
Duruşma savcısı, yargılama dosyasının, esas hakkındaki mütalaanın hazırlanması için savcılığa iletilmesini talep etti.
Mahkeme, savcılıktan gelen ve bir telefon hattı üzerindeki Bylock programının Mayda tarafından kullanılmış olabileceğine ilişkin yazının, Mayda’nın işaret ettiği arkadaşının davasındaki yargılama dosyasına eklenmesine karar verdi.
Mahkeme, ayrıca; Serhat Şeftali’in mal varlığı üzerindeki tedbirin kaldırılmasına karar verdi.
Yargılama dosyasının, esas hakkındaki mütalaanın hazırlanması için savcılığa iletilmesine karar verildi.
Yargılamanın, 12 Ocak 2021 tarihinde görülecek 12. duruşma ile devam etmesine karar verildi.
Koronavirüs pandemisi karşısında alınan önlemler kapsamında, Antalya Adliyesi’ne girişler sınırlandırılmıştı. Adliye girişinde bulunan görevliler adliye içerisinde resmi işi olmayan hiçkimseyi bina içerisine almıyordu.
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