Şahin Alpay

Academic, writer. Worked as a columnist at Zaman Daily for 14 years along with Cumhuriyet, Sabah and Milliyet.

He was requested to be sentenced for 3 times aggravated life sentence and from 7,5 years to 15 years of imprisonment within the scope of the trial agains writers and executives of Zaman Daily.

Alpay, during his detainment, made an appeal to the Constitutional Court. Local court, despite the Higher Court’s decision for release due to violation of rights, did not release Alpay. He was able to be released after Constitutional Court’s second decision.

He was sentenced to 8 years 9 months of imprisonment for the accusation of “membership of an armed terrorist organisation”.

Alpay, during his detainment, made an appeal to the Constitutional Court. Local court, despite the Higher Court’s decision for release due to violation of rights, did not release Alpay. He was able to be released after Constitutional Court’s second decision.

Appeal Court, approved the imprisonment sentence against Alpay, much after Constitutional Court’s decision of violation of right. Court of Cassation is expected to conclude the appeal examination.

Zaman Newspaper Main Trial

He was taken into custody at July 27th, 2016. His first statement was taken at July 30th, 2016. Prosecutor took Alpay’s statement at the Istanbul Directorate of Security. He stated that he knew Gülen but did not take orders. He pointed out that Gülen was not in a managerial position at Zaman Daily or Samanyolu TV. He condemned the July 15th coup attempt.

Prosecutor’s Office requested Istanbul 4th Criminal Court of Peace to arrest Alpay. Prosecutor’s Office, claimed that Alpay acted in ideal and actional consensus with the leaders of FETÖ.

Alpay, in the statement he gave before the judge too, said he was against military coups. He stated that he accepted the writing job offer from Zaman Daily because of the sympathy of the politicians for Gülen movement. Alpay was arrested and sent to Silivri Prison. Reasoning of the arrest decision stated that investigations against FETÖ’s media branch caused many suspects to flee the country.

Alpay, at August 5th, 2016 made an appeal to the arrest decision. In the appeal petition he stated that the crime accusations were acts of journalism and did not form crime. He reminded that according to the Press Law, indictments regarding written press, must be prepared before 4 months after the publishing date and said this case was opened after the 4 months period. Alpay’s appeal was denied. Alpay, at September 8th, 2016 appealed to the Constitutional Court, for violation of rights.

The indictment against Alpay was finalised at April 10th, 2017 by Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, Terror and Organised Crime Bureau Prosecutor İsmet Bozkurt. 64-page-long indictment was sent to the court at April 11th, 2017 and was approved by Istanbul 13th Assize Court at April 24th, 2017.

Alpay was requested to be sentenced for 3 times aggravated life sentence and from 7,5 years to 15 years of imprisonment. He was accused of “attempting to abolish the constitutional order, the Parliament and the government of the Republic of Turkey, or to prevent them, in part or in full, from fulfilling their duties.” and “membership of an armed organisation”.

Indictment against Alpay, as many other FETÖ trials, started with the description of the purpose of the organisation, its structure, its sources of income, its force in weaponry. This part kept on for 20 pages. It was stated that the media outlets that employed the journalists were connected to FETÖ. Names of other journalists who were not suspects in this indictment were mentioned as well. Accusations against the suspects started after this part.

It was claimed that Alpay formed the media power of FETÖ. It was suggested that he was playing her role in order to remove the constitutional order of the state, the parliament and the government.

In the indictment Alpay was accused for 7 column he wrote, 6 at Zaman Daily and 1 at Yarına Bakış. All the articles he was being accused of were written after the December 17/25 Corruption and Bribery operation. In 2013 there had been a big corruption and bribery operation including ministers of AKP and their children. Alpay in his articles said that this investigation of corruption and bribery was tried to be covered up. He said the country was facing a very serious political crisis. He sad that Erdoğan had started a witch hunt. Allay, in one the articles that was mentioned in the indictment had said the following:

“No matter what he does, Erdoğan and his junto’s governing days seem to be coming to an end.”

It is stated that Alpay was not just opposing in her articles. The indictment, regarding the articles, says “did not include crime factors on surface”. However the articles were crossing the limits of the freedom of press and expression. It is suggested that he was, with his articles, violating the rights of the public officials and state institutions. The articles were “in a nature to disrupt the peace and comfort of the public, social peace and public order”. And it was claimed that Alpay did not hesitate to call for a military coup.

Alpay was requested to be sentenced for 3 times aggravated life sentence and from 7,5 years to 15 years of imprisonment. She was accused of “attempting to abolish the constitutional order, the Parliament and the government of the Republic of Turkey, or to prevent them, in part or in full, from fulfilling their duties.” and “membership of an armed organisation”.

First hearing of the case took place at September 18-19th, 2017 at Istanbul 13th Assize Court. The courtroom was inside Silivri Prison. Alpay had been detained for 14 month when he, for the first time, went before a judge.

Alpay, in the first hearing described himself as liberal/democrat. He stated that “He was wrong for not seeing the real face of Gülen movement”. He said if there was a judicial decision that said Gülen movement was a criminal organisation, he would not have continued to write at Zaman Daily. He declared that the articles in the indictment were proofs of him not committing the accused crimes.

Second hearing took place at December 8th, 2017. Akay had been detained for 500 days when he went before a judge for the first time.

3rd hearing took place at April 5th, 2018. Prosecutor presented his opinion as to the accusations. Requested Alpay to be sentenced to aggravated life sentence for committing the crime of “attempting to remove the constitutional order” and up to 15 years of imprisonment for the accusation of “membership of an armed terrorist organisation”.

4th hearing took place at May 10-11th, 2018. Measurement for Alpay’s house arrest was lifted.

6th hearing took place at July 5-6th, 2018. Alpay presented his final defence argument. He defended himself by making quotations from Constitutional Court’s decision. After his defence, his final words were asked. Alpay said the following:

“The entire public has witnessed my 35-year-long journalism career. It is not possible that I was a member of a terrorist organisation.”

Alpay was sentenced to 8 years 9 months of imprisonment for membership of an armed terrorist organisation. The decision was taken to the appeal court.

Constitutional Court Process

Alpay, at September 8th, 2016, made an appeal to the Constitutional Court for violation of rights. When he made the appeal he was still detained and the indictment against him was not written yet.

Constitutional Court, 1 year 4 months after the appeal, at January 11th, 2018 made a decision. Ruled that unlawful arrest of Alpay was violating personal rights and security, freedom of expression and press. However Istanbul 13th Assize Court, for the first time in Turkey, resisted against the decision of Constitutional Court. Alpay was not released.

After that Alpay, made a second appeal to the Constitutional Court. He stated that by not obeying the decision of Constitutional Court, his rights were once again violated. Constitutional Court once again ruled in his favour. High Court in the decision stated that following the decision of violation he should be released.

The court that resisted against the first decision of the Constitutional Court, ruled for Alpay’s release after second violation and release decision. However Alpay was banned to leave the country and his residence. Therefore Alpay was in “house arrest”.

Alpay, after 20 months of detainment, at March 17th, 2018, at the age of 74 was free. It was noteworthy that the release decision was given a few days before European Court of Human Rights’ decision on his favour.

Şahin Alpay, at February 28th, 2017 had made an appeal to the ECHR. ECHR reached a verdict regarding the appeals at February 20th, 2018. The decision was announced at March 20th, 2018.

ECHR too, ruled that Alpay’s rights of “freedom”, “security” and “freedom of expression” were violated.

ECHR also ruled that Alpay was to be paid 21.500€ in damages for mental anguish.

ECHR stated that Constitutional Court that resisted against the local court’s violation of rights and resistance of the release decision was “still an effective internal judicial route”.

Appeal Process

The decision regarding Alpay was approved by the appeal court long after Constitutional Courts decision for violation of rights; Thus the appeal court did not find the accusation unlawful which was recognised as violation of rights by the Constitutional Court. The decision is taken to the Court of Cassation.

Supreme Court Process

At the case in which Alpay was being tried too, Court of Cassation Chief of Public Prosecutor’s Office presented the letter of notification to the 16th Criminal Chamber of Court of Cassation

Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office in the notification dated December 23rd, 2019, requested that the decision regarding Alpay with the accusation of “membership of a terrorist organisation” to be overruled, stated that he was to be tried with the accusation of “knowingly and willingly aiding FETÖ/PDY armed terrorist organisation without partaking in the hierarchical structure”. The appeal is not concluded yet.

Zaman Newspaper Main Trial (Indictment)

Zaman Newspaper Main Trial (Verdict)

Zaman Newspaper Main Trial (Defense)

Zaman Newspaper Main Trial (The Constitutional Court's Judgement)

Zaman Newspaper Main Trial (The Constitutional Court's Judgement)

Zaman Newspaper Main Trial (ECHR's Judgement)

Zaman Newspaper Main Trial (Release Verdict)

Zaman Newspaper Main Trial (Defense on the Merits of the Case)

Zaman Newspaper Main Trial (Notification of the Prosecutor's Office (CoC))

Zaman Newspaper Main Trial (The Court of Appeal's Judgement)