Yakut graduated from the Faculty of Communication Sciences at Anadolu University in Eskişehir.
Yakut started working as a correspondent for the now-closed Zaman newspaper at the newspaper’s headquarters in Istanbul. He later continued to work at the Antalya office of the same newspaper.
The Zaman newspaper 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 Yakut on the allegation of “FETO membership”. He was detained in Tekirdağ on 23 July 2016 at the security directorate where he went after learning that his house in Antalya had been searched. He was brought to Antalya, where the investigation was being carried out. 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.
Yakut 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 Yakut be sentenced to imprisonment of between seven years and six months and 15 years.
Yakut was released pending trial at the fifth hearing of the trial on 1 February 2018. He was prohibited from travelling abroad. Yakut had been in prison for more than one and a half year when he was released.
The trial concerning Yakut is currently underway. Yakut 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.’”
The house of Osman Yakut, Antalya correspondent for the now-closed Zaman newspaper, was searched on 23 July 2016 as part of the investigation. A computer case, three hard drives, four memory cards as well as his mobile phone and the SIM card attached to his phone were confiscated during the house search.
Yakut learned from his landlord that his house had been searched. He was in Tekirdağ at the time. He went to the security directorate to learn if there was an arrest warrant concerning him. He was detained at the security directorate he went on 23 July 2016. He was brought from Tekirdağ to Antalya, where the investigation was being carried out.
Yakut’s first statement was received by the Directorate of Counter-Terrorism Branch of the Antalya Security Directorate. He stated that “he had applied for a job at Zaman newspaper in 2011 because it was the newspaper with the most circulation and its publications were appreciated by the public” and he was hired . He stated that “he was not a FETO member”.
Yakut was shown the outputs he shared on his Facebook and Twitter accounts. Yakut stated that he had shared the Facebook outputs, but the Twitter account did not belong to him.
The custody procedures lasted for three days. Yakut was then referred to the prosecutor’s office. The prosecutor’s office demanded that Yakut 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, Ömer Özdemir and Cihan Ünal, who were detained on the same date with Yakut, 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.
Yakut 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. Osman Yakut, as well as other journalists Tuncer Çetinkaya, Serhat Şeftali, Ömer Özdemir, Kenan Baş, Cihat Ünal, 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 Osman Yakut, Antalya correspondent for the now-closed Zaman newspaper, along with 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 stated that Yakut “was a correspondent for a media organ of FETO/PDY terrorist organisation”. It was asserted that Yakut, who allegedly “carried out journalistic activities on behalf of the terrorist organisation”, was in contact with Özkan Mayda and Ömer Özdemir, who was detained along with Yakut and were tried as part of the same trial.
The indictment listed Yakut’s Facebook outputs. The indictment listed the following statements by Yakut:
. “Make every kind of mistakes with the PKK, announce consensus at Dolmabahçe [referring to 2013-2015 PKK-Turkey peace process], then introduce innocent people as co-conspirators… I think the phrase ‘unarmed terrorist organisation’ was way funnier… Drown in your cruelty. May God bring those who knowingly and willingly overlook this cruelty against those who carry out those cruel acts.”
. “You once said, ‘If I were a dictator, you would not have been able to ask that question’. You are a dictator. A great one. Because it would not matter anymore even if those reporters asked you that question. You’ve permeated their very blood”.
. “As of today, we were discharged from our duties at Zaman newspaper. Our faith that tomorrow will be better is unwavering.”
. “Free press cannot be silenced.”
. “Disperse gentlemen, the play is over… Operations over wiretapping are carried out against policemen, even if [wiretapping recordings] are fake. The police plant the money, but it is transferred to children of ministers. Although the money does not belong to Reza [Zarrab], he takes it away in suitcases. Although the ministers resign, the government remains not guilty. What kind of a coup is that?”
The indictment listed the following Twitter outputs of Yakut:
“Of course, it was the congregation all along. It was as though the country was run by mosquitos for 12 years.”
“Our almighty sovereign! He always wants to be at the forefront when it comes to lending privilege to theft and cruelty.”
“Breaking News: Police Raid During Class Hours.”
The indictment also included the statements of a suspect against Yakut, who was questioned as part of a different investigation. The indictment quoted the subject as saying “he had stayed at Yakut’s flat when he was a university student, and Yakut had taken him to [congregation] meetings called sohbet at different locations”. It was asserted that the suspect stated that “Osman Yakut threatened to throw him out of the house when he did not want to attend the meetings”.
The indictment charged Osman Yakut 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 Yakut 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, Ömer Özdemir, Cihat Ünal 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 Yakut 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.
The trial concerning the journalists including Osman Yakut, Antalya correspondent for the now-closed Zaman newspaper, 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. Yakut, who was being tried in remand, was brought to court from prison. Yakut was represented by his attorney Veli Solmaz at the hearings.
Yakut made his first defensive statement at this hearing. He stated that he had not knowingly and willingly become a member of any terrorist organisation, and had not received instructions from any terrorist organisation. He stated that he had worked as a correspondent for approximately two years in Antalya.
Yakut stated that for a newspaper to be published, it should be established through lawful means, and Zaman newspaper was an establishment operating within the law. He said: “I worked at this establishment to earn my livelihood. I have been under arrest for nine months because of this fact.”
Yakut stated that the Facebook and Twitter posts that were cited as evidence for the charges against him did not belong to him.
Yakut replied to the panel of judges’ question about whether or not he had filed a legal application regarding the Facebook account regarding which he stated that it did not belong to him by saying: “I have not filed any legal applications”.
Yakut stated that he had learnt about the suspect’s name from the indictment who testified against him in the indictment. Yakut stated that “he did not stay at the same house with him, and did not take him to congregation houses”.
Yakut’s attorney Veli Solmaz said of the person who testified against Yakut that “he presumably gave Yakut’s name to save himself”. He demanded Yakut’s release.
The prosecutor for the hearing demanded that Yakut should continue to be held in remand.
Yakut stated the following in in reply to the prosecutor’s demand: “As seen from the case file, me using the ByLock application is out of question. I have been under arrest for nine months. My psychology and family integrity have been harmed.” Yakut demanded his release and acquittal.
The court ruled that Yakut should continue to be held in remand. The ruling was grounded on the suspect’s statements regarding whom Yakut said that he did not know them.
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 any records indicating that Yakut 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 records of the ByLock application being installed in Osman Yakut’s mobile phone.
The court announced that the witness testimonies of the person who testified against Yakut were received prior to the hearing. Yakut stated the following concerning the new statements: “Previous statements of the witness were also in the form of slander. In his previous statement, he said, ‘I realised that this structure was a terrorist organisation back then’. If he had realised that it was a terrorist organisation, why did he not file a criminal complaint? He stated that he was being threatened. He should have filed a criminal complaint about that matter too.”
Yakut’s attorney Münip Ermiş stated that witnesses’ testimonies were not received lawfully and those testimonies should be declared inadmissible.
Yakut’s other attorney Veli Solmaz stated that the witness and Yakut should identify each other through the Sound and Video Information System.
The court once more ruled that Yakut should continue to be held in remand at this hearing. The ruling was once again grounded on the witness testimonies against Yakut.
The third hearing of the trial took place on 6 October 2017. Yakut was brought in from prison to attend the hearing. Yakut was represented by his attorneys Münip Ermiş and Veli Solmaz.
Yakut demanded to meet face to face with the person who testified against him. He stated, “After I was detained, my name appeared in the news. He made statements after seeing my name in the news to save himself.” Yakut stated that he and his wife were experiencing financial and emotional hardship, and were undergoing psychological treatment. He then demanded his release.
The court announced that the examination report by Antalya Security Directorate Counter-Terrorism Branch regarding the digital materials confiscated from Yakut’s home was added to the case file. Yakut demanded additional time to prepare defensive statements against the report.
The prosecutor for the hearing demanded that Yakut should continue to be held in remand. Yakut’s attorney Münip Ermiş stated that there was no evidence suggesting that the Facebook account over which Yakut was charged belonged to him.
Yakut’s other attorney Veli Solmaz stated that Yakut was the only defendant who was being tried in remand following his detention. Attorney Solmaz demanded the release of Yakut, who had been in remand for 16 months.
The court ruled that Yakut should continue to be held in remand.
The fourth hearing of the trial took place on 8 December 2017. Yakut was brought in from prison to attend the hearing. Yakut was represented by his attorneys Münip Ermiş and Veli Solmaz.
The court announced that records of the non-contact visits between Yakut and his wife in prison were added to the case file.
Before the fourth hearing of the trial held on 8 December 2017, another document was added to the file concerning Osman Yakut, who was then being tried in remand. The court announced that records of Yakut’s meetings with his spouse during non-contact visits while he was imprisoned had been added to the file. Local press in Antalya reported in the inclusion of the new document before the hearing. The news reports stated that “records of private meetings Yakut had with his spouse during non-contact visits during Yakut’s time in prison were now a part of the case file”, while Yakut’s attorney Münip Ermiş said: “This is not routine procedure. In addition, no justification was given for adding the conversation to the case file. This is because of OHAL (state of emergency); it is the first time I’ve seen such a thing happen in my 32 years of professional life”.
The prosecutor for the hearing presented the opinion of the prosecution as to the accusations at this hearing.
The opinion of the prosecution charged Osman Yakut, 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 Yakut be sentenced to imprisonment of between seven years and six months and 15 years.
In his defensive statement against the opinion of the prosecution, Yakut individually described the evidence in the examination report. He stated that he had been in remand for 17 months. He demanded his acquittal.
Yakut’s attorneys demanded additional time to prepare defensive statements against the opinion of the prosecution as to the accusations.
The court ruled that Yakut should continue to be held in remand.
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.
Yakut said, “I have been under arrest for a long time. I was arrested despite being newly-wed. My family and I were both wronged.” He then demanded his release.
Yakut’s attorney Veli Solmaz stated the following: “There are no matters concerning Yakut left to further examine. We demand his release taking into consideration the prolonged detention period.”
The court ruled that Yakut be released pending trial. The court prohibited Yakut from travelling abroad. Yakut had been in prison for more than eighteen months when he was released.
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 Osman Yakut, 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 Osman Yakut 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. Yakut stated that he repeated his previous defensive statements.
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. 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 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. The panel of judges had changed again.
The court ruled that the prohibition on travelling abroad be lifted on the condition that the defendants with travel prohibitions present documents proving that 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. Yakut did not attend the hearing and was represented by his attorneys. 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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