Said Sefa

Sefa graduated from the Faculty of Education at Gazi University. He worked for various local televisions and newspapers. Most recently, he had acted as the editor-in-chief for Haberdar and Sporexpres websites.

Sefa is the author of the book Aşksız Kalmış Şiirler [Poems Bereft of Love].

An investigation was launched concerning Sefa by the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office of Istanbul over the claims of “being affiliated with the FETÖ Media Structure”. A detention order was issued. However, Sefa could not be detained as he was abroad at the time.

The indictment charged Sefa with “attempting to destroy the Government of the Republic of Turkey or to partially or completely prevent it from fulfilling its duties by means of coercion and violence” and “founding or commanding an armed terrorist organisation”. The prosecution demanded that Sefa be sentenced to an aggravated life sentence and imprisonment of between 10 years and 15 years.

A warrant was issued for his arrest during the trial process.

At the end of the trial process on 8 March 2018, it was decided to separate the court case concerning him Sefa.

The warrant for Sefa’s arrest has not yet been realised.

"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”.

Said Sefa, the editor-in-chief of Haberdar online news portal, was one of the people under investigation.

Sefa could not be detained as he was abroad.

During the trial process, a series of news reports were published that claimed Sefa was among the users of the Twitter account “FuatAvni”, which shared certain information from within the government and was later shut down.

The indictment concerning 29 individuals of whom 27 were journalists including Sefa was completed on 16 January 2017.

The indictment concerning 29 individuals including Said Sefa, the editor-in-chief for the Haberdar online news portal, and of whom 27 are journalists, was completed by the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office of Istanbul on 16 January 2017. The indictment consisted of 196 pages.

112 pages of the indictment listed allegations concerning “Fetullah Terrorist Organisation / Parallel State Structure (FETÖ-PDY)”. This part was identical with the texts in indictments prepared for similar charges.

The indictment stated that three posts shared by the “FuatAvni” social media account were also shared from Sefa’s personal account. On this basis, it was asserted that Sefa “was the first person to open the account”.

The Twitter account named “Fuat Avni” featured heavily on the agenda between February 2014 and July 2016 with its outputs regarding the government, the judiciary and law enforcement at a time when the Justice and Development Party and the “Fetullah Gülen congregation” diverged. The Twitter account was blocked by a court order. However, other accounts were registered under various names. Many people were put on trial on allegations that they were the administrators of the account.

The same section of the indictment asserted that the first name of the “FuatAvni” account was “@msaidsolak, the name of the account had changed on 16 February 2014 and Muhammed Said Solak was the first user of this account. Investigations into Solak’s identification reveals found he changed his name and surname to Said Sefa in 2012. It was asserted that “the account started being used as an anonymous account by FETÖ members” following this change.

The indictment asserted that “activities aiming to change perceptions were conducted by the organisation” at Merkür Haber and Haberdar websites where Sefa published columns.

The indictment included allegations of some individuals standing trial in other court cases in different cities that Sefa “was an older brother’s helper [within the organisation]” and other statements against him.

Similar to other defendants in the file, the court rulings listed the money movements in Sefa’s account in Bank Asya, which was stated to be “one of the financial organisations of FETÖ”. It was asserted that the act of depositing money to the bank “was carried over the call of Fetullah Gülen following the investigation into Bank Asya”.

The indictment charged Sefa with “attempting to destroy the Government of the Republic of Turkey or to partially or completely prevent it from fulfilling its duties by means of coercion and violence” in accordance with the governing Law 312/1 and “founding or commanding an armed terrorist organisation” in accordance with the governing Law 314/1. The prosecution demanded that Sefa be sentenced to a total of an aggravated life sentence and imprisonment of between 10 years and 15 years. It was also demanded that Sefa “be deprived of the enjoyment of certain rights” in accordance with Article 53/1 of the Turkish Penal Code.

The trial involving 29 individuals, of whom 27 were journalists, including Said Sefa, the editor-in-chief for the Haberdar online news portal, as defendants commenced with the first hearing at the Istanbul 25th High Criminal Court on 27-31 March.

Journalist Said Sefa did not participate in the hearings as he was abroad and did not make any defensive statements.

The opinion of the prosecution as to the accusations was presented at the hearing of the trial held on 6 February 2018. It was demanded that Sefa’s file be separated as he could not be detained.

Meanwhile, the 29 defendants, of whom 27 were journalists, were sentenced to imprisonment sentences of varying lengths at the final hearing of the trial on 7-8 March 2018. The panel of judges sentenced 11 journalists to imprisonment of six years and three months on the charge of “membership of an armed terrorist organisation” and 12 journalists to imprisonment of seven years and six months on the same charge. Two journalists were sentenced to imprisonment of between two years and one month and three years and one month and 15 days on charges of “knowingly and willingly aiding an armed organisation despite not being a part of its hierarchical structure” at the end of the trial.

At this hearing, it was decided to wait for the realisation of the arrest warrant issued on Sefa and to separate the case file concerning him.

"Media Structure" Trial (Reasoned Judgement)

"Media Structure" Trial (The Court of Cassation's Judgement)

"Media Structure" Trial (Indictment)

Contact: pressinarrest@gmail.com

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