Serhat Şeftali

Serhat Şeftali graduated from the Faculty of Theology at Uludağ University in Bursa.

He started working as the distribution manager at the Bursa Branch of the now-closed Zaman newspaper in 1993. He then started working as a proof reader at the Marmara Regional News Unit of the now-closed Cihan News Agency. He became the office manager of the Kadın ve Aile [Women and Family] Magazine of the now-closed Zaman newspaper in 1999. He acted as the editor of the Ailem [My Family] magazine of the same newspaper between 2002 and 2007. He acted as the head of the magazine publishing branch until 2012.

The Cihan News Agency and 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.

In 2012, Şeftali started working as Antalya Regional Representative of the now-closed Zaman newspaper. In 2014, he returned to Cihan News Agency’s headquarters in Istanbul in 2014 as a proof reader.

The Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office of Antalya launched an investigation concerning Şeftali on allegations of “FETO membership”. He was detained on 27 August 2016. The custody procedures lasted for nine days. He was placed in custody on 5 September 2016 on allegations of “membership of an armed terrorist organisation”. He was sent to Antalya Type L Prison.

Şeftali spent approximately seven 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 Şeftali be sentenced to imprisonment of between seven years and six months and 15 years.

Şeftali 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. The court accepted the objection. An arrest warrant was issued concerning him, but he could not be apprehended.

Şeftali attended the first hearing of the trial on 11 April 2017 with his attorney. The court ruled that Şeftali be remanded at the end of the hearing.

Şeftali was released at the fifth hearing of the trial held on 1 February 2018.

The trial concerning Şeftali is currently underway. Şeftali 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.’”

Serhat Şeftali, Antalya Regional Representative of the now-closed Cihan News Agency, was detained on 27 August 2016 as part of this investigation.

Many DVDs alleged to contain “images of Fetullah Gülen”, a couple of SIM cards, a mobile phone and a press card were confiscated during the search of his house.

According to the indictment, Serhat Şeftali said in the statement he gave to the Directorate of Counter-Terrorism Branch that the images on the DVDs that were allegedly found in his house were not prepared by him. He also stated that he did not take the alleged photos of Gülen.

Regarding the photograph of a demonstration that was organised outside the Antalya Courthouse that was alleged to have been recorded on DVDs found in his house, Şeftali said: “I did not actively attend the demonstration organised outside the Antalya Courthouse, I went there as a journalist”.

During his questioning, Şeftali was also asked about a document which was marked “confidential”. Şeftali said: “When correspondents are preparing a news item, they need to prove its source to us through e-mail or by different means. That document probably included that sort of information.”

The custody procedures lasted for nine days. Şeftali was remanded by the ruling of the 2nd Court of Peace of Antalya on 5 September 2016. He was sent to Antalya Type L Prison.

Journalists Tuncer Çetinkaya, Özkan Mayda, Olgun Matur, Kenan Baş, Ömer Özdemir, Cihat Ünal and Osman Yakut, who were detained on different dates than Şeftali, were also remanded.

Şeftali spent approximately seven months in prison awaiting the indictment concerning him to be completed. The indictment concerning Şeftali and the journalists was completed on 22 March 2017.

The Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office of Antalya launched another investigation concerning the journalists. Şeftali, as well as journalists Tuncer Çetinkaya, Cihat Ünal, Ömer Özdemir, 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 Serhat Şeftali, Antalya Regional Representative 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 asserted that the DVDs that were allegedly found in Şeftali’s home contained a photograph of Şeftali holding a banner that said: “Free Press Will Not Be Silenced”. It was asserted that the DVDs also contained photographs of Fetullah Gülen. It was asserted that the confiscated digital materials contained “articles that were published in the now-closed Zaman newspaper, Aksiyon and Sızıntı magazines”.

It was asserted that the DVDs also contained the archive of Ailem [My Family] magazine, which was a supplementary publication of Zaman newspaper and of which Şeftali was the editor. It was asserted that the magazine “had engaged in organisation propaganda”.

It was asserted that the DVDs contained a large inventory of e-mail correspondence. The indictment included this correspondence.

The indictment cited Şeftali’s press card with his name and title, “Zaman newspaper Regional Representative / Istanbul” written on it as evidence.

The indictment asserted that the DVDs contained video recordings and photographs of the demonstration organised against the appointment of a public administrator to Zaman newspaper outside the Antalya Courthouse.

The indictment charged Şeftali 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 Şeftali 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, Cihat Ünal, Kenan Baş, Ömer Özdemir and Osman Yakut.

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 Şeftali and other journalists was accepted by the 2nd High Criminal Court of Antalya on 29 March 2017.

Şeftali was released pending trial after the indictment was accepted on 29 March 2017. The court prohibited Şeftali from travelling abroad.

Şeftali had been in prison for seven months when he was released.

However, the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office of Antalya objected to court’s release order concerning Şeftali. Another warrant for Şeftali’s arrest was issued by the 3rd High Criminal Court of Antalya on 1 April 2017. However, the arrest warrant concerning Şeftali could not be fulfilled.

The trial concerning the journalists working in Antalya, including Serhat Şeftali, former Antalya Regional Representative for the now-closed Cihan News Agency, commenced with the first hearing at the 2nd High Criminal Court of Antalya on 11 April 2017.

Serhat Şeftali, a warrant for whose arrest had been issued, attended the first hearing with his attorney Halil Istıl. He stated that the CDs found in his home that were allegedly affiliated with Fetullah Gülen were to do with Ailem magazine, of which he had been the editor. Şeftali said, “While we published Ailem magazine, we received congratulatory messages from senior government officials”.

Şeftali stated the following: “I do not accept the accusations. I have not been a member of any terrorist organisation. I was not a part of its hierarchical structure. I appeared before the court knowing that there was a warrant issued for my arrest.”

Şeftali stated that he had kidney and lung disease. Şeftali’s attorney Halil Istıl demanded that Şeftali be tried without remand on grounds of poor health, and stated that they would conform to judicial supervision measures if necessary.

Istıl also stated that “the ByLock application that is asserted to be used by alleged FETO members to communicate with each other” was not detected on Şeftali’s phone. Istıl stated that Şeftali was not at risk of flight, was receiving treatment at the time a warrant for his arrest was issued, and he had willingly appeared before the court.

The court ruled that Şeftali, the warrant for whose arrest was not fulfilled, but who attended the first hearing of the trial, be remanded.

The second hearing of the trial took place on 24 May 2017. The panel of judges had changed at this hearing. Şeftali, who was being tried in remand, was brought to court from prison.

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 Şeftali 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 Şeftali’s mobile phone.

Şeftali stated that he had published magazines about education, health and family for many years, he had published 250 volumes of magazines between 2002 and 2007, and that the magazines had a circulation of 450,000 copies. Şeftali stated that the magazines he published were examined by the Press Prosecutor’s Office and the Ministry of National Education, and no element of crime was found in any of the magazines. He said: “The indictment stated that I had archived some news items and articles. This does not constitute a crime. I have to archive news items due to my profession.” Şeftali stated that he was not a member of any terrorist organisation, and did not engage in organisation propaganda.

Şeftali’s attorney Halil Istıl stated that the only source of income for Şeftali’s family was Şeftali’s retirement pension. He demanded Şeftali’s release.

The court ruled that Şeftali should continue to be held in remand. His attorneys objected to the ruling. However, the objection was rejected by the 3rd High Criminal Court of Antalya.

The third hearing of the trial took place on 6 October 2017. Şeftali, who was being tried in remand, was brought to court from prison.

Şeftali stated that he had published supplementary pages of Zaman newspaper, and had written articles about family and society. Şeftali stated, “The indictment did not press a criminal charge on my articles and news items. My articles thus do not possess elements of crime.” Şeftali demanded his release “by taking into consideration the prolonged detention period”, and stated the following:

“I have been under arrest for 14 months. After I was released, I attended the hearing on 11 April knowing that I might be placed in custody. I did not flee despite having a passport. My family and I are victims.”

The prosecutor for the hearing demanded that Şeftali should continue to be held in remand. The court ruled that Şeftali should continue to be held in remand. His attorneys objected to the ruling. However, the objection was rejected by the 3rd High Criminal Court of Antalya.

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 Serhat Şeftali, 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 Şeftali be sentenced to imprisonment of between seven years and six months and 15 years.

Against the opinion of the prosecution as to the accusations, Şeftali stated that he had only engaged in journalistic activities, was not affiliated with the terrorist organisation, had published Ailem magazine for five years, and had produced supplementary pages of Ailem for 12 years. Şeftali stated the following: “I am not a member of a terrorist organisation. I have been under arrest for 16 months. I demand my release and acquittal.”

Şeftali’s attorney Halil Istıl demanded additional time to prepare defensive statements against the opinion of the prosecution as to the accusations.

The court ruled that Şeftali should continue to be held in remand. His attorneys objected to the ruling once again. The court rejected the objection.

The fifth hearing of the trial took place on 1 February 2018. The panel of judges was observed to have changed again. The prosecutor for the hearing repeated the opinion of the prosecution as to the accusations presented at the last hearing.

Şeftali stated that he had been under arrest for 18 months. He demanded his release by stating that he had not fled despite having been previously released, and that his health condition had worsened.

The court ordered Şeftali’s release. However, the court prohibited Şeftali from travelling abroad as a judicial supervision measure.

The sixth hearing of the trial took place on 24 April 2018. The panel of judges did not change 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 that the examination report regarding Şeftali’s hard drive, which was confiscated during his detention, was added to the case file.

The court announced its ruling at this hearing. The court sentenced Tuncer Çetinkaya, who was being tried with other journalists including Şeftali, 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 Şeftali and other journalists be separated. It was ruled that the trial be continued under the same court with a different case number.

In between two hearings, Serhat Şeftali demanded to be exempted from the hearings. He demanded that mandatory attendance to hearings be lifted.

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. Şeftali’s demand to be exempted from the hearings was accepted.

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. 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 of Orhan and Yavaşlar.

The tenth hearing of the trial, fourth since the case file was separated, took place on 7 February 2020. The court ruled that the prohibition on travelling abroad be lifted on the conditions 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 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 thirteenth hearing of the trial, seventh since the case file was separated, was scheduled for 12 January 2021. Şeftali did not attend the hearing. Şeftali was represented by Halil Istıl and Hasan Burgan at the hearing. Attorney Istıl demanded that the temporary injunction on Şeftali’s assets be lifted. The court accepted the demand.

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)

Contact: pressinarrest@gmail.com

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