Ömer Özdemir

Ömer Özdemir graduated from the Department of Sociology at Süleyman Demirel University in Isparta.

He worked as a correspondent for TRT, the public broadcaster, between 2011 and 2012. He worked at the now-closed Cihan News Agency between 2012 and 2013.

The Cihan News Agency were closed down by a Statutory Decree (KHK) that was put into effect as part of the State of Emergency (OHAL) 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.

The Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office of Antalya launched an investigation concerning Özdemir on allegations 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 allegations of “membership of an armed terrorist organisation”. He was sent to Antalya Type L Prison.

Özdemir 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 Özdemir be sentenced to imprisonment of between seven years and six months and 15 years.

Özdemir was released pending trial on 29 March 2017 after the indictment was accepted. He was prohibited from travelling abroad. Özdemir had been in prison for approximately eight months when he was released.

Özdemir was once again placed in custody at the first hearing of the trial on 11 April 2017, based on the police report presented to the court a day before the hearing.

Özdemir was released pending trial at the third hearing of the trial on 6 September 2017.

The trial concerning Özdemir is currently underway. Özdemir is standing trial without remand.

“Antalya 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”.

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.’”

Ömer Özdemir, Antalya correspondent for the now-closed Cihan News Agency, was detained on 23 July 2016 as part of this investigation. A mobile phone and the SIM card attached to this phone, a memory card, a notebook computer, a hard drive, two flash drives and four DVDs were confiscated during the house search.

Özdemir’s first statement was received by the police in the Directorate of Counter-Terrorism Branch of the Antalya Security Directorate. He stated that “he did not engage in any ideological or religious activities, he knew that Cihan News Agency belonged to the Fetullah Gülen congregation when he started working there and he only worked there to earn a living”. He stated that he only went to events to prepare news reports during his employment, that he covered current events and he did not prepare any political news.

He stated that the Facebook account that was cited as evidence concerning the charges did not belong him.

The custody procedures lasted for three days. Özdemir was then referred to the prosecutor’s office. The prosecutor’s office demanded that Özdemir be remanded on 26 July 2016 on the charge of “membership of an armed terrorist organisation”. He 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, Olgun Matur, Kenan Baş, Cihan Ünal and Osman Yakut, who were detained on the same date with Özdemir, 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.

Özdemir 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. Ömer Özdemir, as well as other journalists Tuncer Çetinkaya, Serhat Şeftali, Cihat Ünal, Kenan Baş, Osman Yakut, Olgun Matur 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 Ömer Özdemir, Antalya correspondent for the now-closed Cihan News Agency, 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 the now-closed Cihan News Agency where Ömer Özdemir had worked as a correspondent.

It was asserted that the agency “had carried out propaganda activities regarding the investigation and prosecution of the FETO structure over social media and internet news websites, and had attempted to lower society’s trust in the state and the judiciary by attempting to alter its perception”. It was asserted that the agency “had attempted to lower the community’s faith in the executive and judiciary powers of the state”.

It was asserted that Özdemir “had followed the Facebook pages of members or supporters of the organisation such as persons, institutions, magazines, banks and films”.

It was asserted that Özdemir had an account at Bank Asya, which had been found in many court rulings to be “one of FETO’s financial institutions’‘.

The indictment asserted that Özdemir “had attempted to recruit subscribers or to renew ended subscriptions for Sızıntı magazine, which was a media organ of the parallel state structure”.

Sızıntı magazine, which was published between 1979 and 2016, was shut down along with Zaman newspaper and Cihan News Agency by statutory decrees that were put into effect 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.

The indictment charged Ömer Özdemir 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 Özdemir 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, Olgun Matur, Kenan Baş, Cihat Ünal, 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 Özdemir 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.

Ömer Özdemir was released pending trial after the indictment was accepted. However, the court prohibited Özdemir from travelling abroad.

The trial concerning the journalists including Ömer Özdemir, Antalya correspondent for the now-closed Cihan News Agency, 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. Özdemir attended the hearing with his attorney Münip Ermiş.

Özdemir made his first defensive statement at this hearing. He stated that he was not a member of any terrorist organisation. He stated that he “did not carry out the subscription procedures for Sızıntı magazine”. Özdemir stated that the Facebook account that was cited as evidence for the charges against him did not belong to him. Özdemir stated that he had not installed the ByLock and Eagle applications that had been found in many court rulings to be “communication tools used by FETO”. He demanded his acquittal.

The court announced that the digital examination report presented a day prior to the hearing by the security directorate which asserted that the Eagle application was installed on Özdemir’s phone was added to the case file.

Özdemir’s attorney Münip Ermiş stated that the digital examination report was added to the file during the hearing. He stated the following: “The Eagle application can be found on the internet. It is software available software. We do not think this report constitutes evidence.” Attorney Ermiş said that they would later present an expert report on a digital image of the phone to be taken for the case file.

The prosecutor for the hearing demanded that Özdemir be remanded due to allegations of “having used the Eagle application”.

Attorney Ermiş stated against the demand to remand Özdemir that, “As to this day, digital examination reports were not presented in the case file. The prosecution demands to remand Özdemir based on the report presented today. There is no adequate evidence regarding the demand for my client’s remand.”

Özdemir said, “I have been under arrest for 250 days. My children’s psychological condition was harmed,” and demanded that the prosecution’s demand for his remand be rejected.

The court ruled that Ömer Özdemir be remanded. The ruling was grounded on the security directorate report presented a day prior to the hearing, which asserted that Özdemir had used the Eagle application. A member of the panel of judges opposed to the ruling to remand Özdemir. The member grounded his/her opposition on “there being no risk of spoliation of evidence and the remand measure would not be commensurate”. The ruling for Özdemir’s remand was thus taken by majority vote.

The second hearing of the trial took place on 24 May 2017. The panel of judges had changed at this hearing. Özdemir, was brought in from prison to attend the hearing. Özdemir was represented by his attorney Münip Ermiş.

It was observed that the Security Directorate of Antalya had replied to the court’s previous written inquiry regarding whether or not there were any records indicating that Özdemir had used “the ByLock application that had been found in many court rulings to be a communication tool used by FETO”. The Security Directorate stated that they had not found any record of the ByLock application being installed in Özdemir’s mobile phone.

Özdemir stated concerning the report presented a day prior to the first hearing, which asserted that he had used the Eagle application and was used as grounds for his remand, that “I do not know whether I installed the Eagle application. However, I have definitely never used this application.” He stated that it was impossible for him to recognise that the Eagle application belonged to the organisation.

Özdemir’s attorney Münip Ermiş stated that it was impossible to detect the content regarding the use of the Eagle application. He added that the application was still available to the public for installation. He demanded that Özdemir be released.

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

The third hearing of the trial took place on 6 October 2017. Özdemir, who was brought to court from prison, was represented by his attorney Münip Ermiş.

It was stated that the examination report by the Antalya Security Directorate regarding the confiscated digital materials during Özdemir’s detention was presented to the court.

Özdemir stated that he had opened an account at Bank Asya to receive his salary. He repeated his previous defensive statements. He stated that he had not fled following his initial release and demanded his release.

His attorney Münip Ermiş stated that there was no evidence suggesting that Özdemir had used the Eagle application.

The court ruled that Ömer Özdemir be released pending trial. The court prohibited Özdemir from 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 Ömer Özdemir, 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 Özdemir be sentenced to imprisonment of between seven years and six months and 15 years.

Özdemir stated the following against the opinion of the prosecution: “There is no evidence or allegation suggesting my involvement in the hierarchical structure of the organisation. I demand my acquittal.”

Özdemir’s attorney Münip Ermiş demanded additional time to prepare defensive statements against the opinion of the prosecution as to the accusations. The demand was accepted. 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. Özdemir repeated his previous defensive statements. Özdemir’s attorney Münip Ermiş demanded that the judicial supervision of prohibition on travelling abroad be lifted. The demand was rejected. The hearing was adjourned.

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 Özdemir, 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 following the ruling.

The court ruled that the case files of Özdemir and other journalists be separated. It was ruled that the trial 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.

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. Özdemir did not attend the hearing.

In between two hearings, it was announced that the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office of Antalya had prepared another indictment concerning Özdemir on the charge of “membership of an armed terrorist organisation”, and sent it to the court. The indictment asserted that Özdemir “had used the ByLock application that had been found in many court rulings to be a communication tool used by FETO”.

The court ruled that the new indictment concerning Özdemir be merged with the existing case file.

Özdemir’s attorney Münip Ermiş demanded additional time to prepare defensive statements against the merged indictment. The demand was accepted. The hearing was adjourned.

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. Özdemir attended the hearing with his attorney Münip Ermiş.

Özdemir gave his defensive statement against the new indictment. He stated that the correspondence in the report suggesting that he had used the ByLock application did not belong to him. The hearing was adjourned.

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 that Yavaşlar be sentenced to imprisonment of between seven years and six months and 15 years. The court ruled that the case files be merged after 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. Özdemir demanded that the mandatory attendance to the hearings be lifted. He stated the following: “I have difficulty getting leave from work due to being tried on such a charge. If the court wants to hear me, I can come once my attorney is informed. If this trial is extended, I want to be exempted from the hearings.” Özdemir’s demand was accepted. The hearing was adjourned.

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. Özdemir 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.

13. Standing - Jan. 12, 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.


Duruşma Öncesi

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.

Gözlemler

Mahkeme Başkanı, kararı açıkladığı sırada yargılanan gazetecilere ve diğer sanıklara “Kendinizi savunacağınız bol bol süreniz olacak” demesi dikkat çekti.

12. Standing - Sept. 25, 2020


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.


Duruşma Öncesi

Koronavirüs pandemisi karşısında alınan önlemler kapsamında, Antalya Adliyesi’ne girişler sınırlandırılmıştı. Adliye girişinde bulunan görevliler adliye içerisinde resmi işi olmayan hiçkimseyi bina içerisine almıyordu.

“Antalya Media Structure” Trial (Minutes of the Hearing)

“Antalya Media Structure” Trial (Indictment)

“Antalya Media Structure” Trial 12. Standing (Minutes of the Hearing)

“Antalya Media Structure” Trial 13. Standing (Minutes of the Hearing)

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