Seyid Kılıç

Kılıç worked as a correspondent for Samanyolu TV. He was a legal correspondent for the TRT News TV channel. He also worked at TRT Istanbul Radio.

Samanyolu TV was shut down by a statutory decree issued 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.

Kılıç was detained on 26 July 2016 on allegations of “being affiliated with FETO media organisation” as part of the investigation commenced by the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office of Istanbul. The custody procedures lasted for three days. He was referred to the court to be remanded following the prosecutor’s questioning. Kılıç was remanded on 29 July 2016 on the charge of “membership of an armed terrorist organisation”. He was taken to the Silivri Closed High Security Prison.

Kılıç spent approximately six months in prison awaiting the indictment concerning him to be completed. The indictment completed on 16 January 2017 charged him with “membership of an armed terrorist organisation”. The prosecution demanded that Kılıç be sentenced to imprisonment of between five years and 10 years.

Kılıç was released pending trial at the first hearing of the trial on 31 March 2017. However, he was once again detained before having been released from the prison over a new investigation commenced concerning him. The custody procedures lasted for 14 days. Kılıç was once again remanded in custody over the charges of “attempting to destroy the constitutional order” and “attempting to destroy the Government of the Republic of Turkey” on 14 April 2017.

The second indictment charged Kılıç with “attempting to destroy the constitutional order” and “attempting to destroy the government”. The prosecution demanded that Kılıç be sentenced to two aggravated life sentences.

The two indictments were merged.

Kılıç was sentenced to imprisonment of seven years and six months on charges of “membership of an armed terrorist organisation” at the end of the trial process on 8 March 2018.

The court of appeals approved the imprisonment sentence on 22 October 2018. The Court of Cassation finalised the verdict on 16 March 2020.

Kılıç has been serving his prison sentence as a convict at Istanbul Silivri Prison.

"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”.

Seyid Kılıç, a correspondent for TRT News channel, was one of the people under investigation.

Kılıç was detained in Istanbul on 26 July 2016. He was brought before the court after the custody procedures. He was referred to the court to be remanded following the prosecutor’s questioning. Kılıç was remanded on 29 July 2016 following the court’s questioning on the charge of “membership of an armed terrorist organisation”. He was taken to the Silivri Closed High Security Prison.

Kılıç spent approximately six months in prison awaiting the indictment concerning him to be completed. The indictment concerning 29 defendants, 27 of whom were journalists, including Kılıç was completed on 16 January 2017.

The indictment concerning 29 defendants, of whom 27 were journalists, including Seyid Kılıç, a correspondent for TRT News channel, 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 against the “Fethullah Terrorist Organisation/Parallel State Structure (FETO-PDY)”. This part was identical with the texts in indictments prepared for similar cases.

The allegations against Kılıç started on page 186 of the indictment. The indictment included information that Kılıç worked at Samanyolu TV and TRT News channel.

The indictment listed five outputs from Kılıç’s social media account as follows:

“No some fools ask why the Turkish Olympics are being held in the EU, which we have been trying to join for almost 50 years, especially for the last 10 years.”
“Are you going to discriminate between our martyred police officers as paralellists? Take a look at your lists. Maybe you won’t need to attend their funerals.”
“SHOCKING CONFESSION! Yes, we staged a coup! Chief of Police Uner: If Reza Zarrab is running the government … Police Captain Mehmet Akif Uner, one of those who conducted the 17 December major corruption and bribery operation, to appear on Samanyolu TV with shocking revelations “.
“@güneyyildiz of BBC talked with F. Gülen about the matters on Turkey’s agenda, it will air at 8.00 AM”.

Kılıç’s account activities at Bank Asya, which was stated in many court rulings to be “one of the FETO’s financial institutions”, was cited among the evidence. The indictment asserted that Kılıç “deposited money upon instructions of Fetullah Gülen after the bank was placed under investigation”.

The indictment demanded that Kılıç be sentenced to imprisonment of between five years and 10 years on charges of “membership of an armed terrorist organisation” in line with Article 314/2 of the Turkish Penal Code. It was also demanded that Kılıç “be deprived of the enjoyment of certain rights” in accordance with Article 53 of the Turkish Penal Code.

The indictment was accepted by the 25th High Criminal Court of Istanbul.

The trial concerning 29 individuals, of whom 27 are journalists, including Seyid Kılıç, a news correspondent for TRT, commenced with the first hearing at the 25th High Criminal Court of Istanbul on 27-31 March 2017. Kılıç had been in prison for approximately eight months when he first stood trial.

Attorney Ali Deniz Ceylan stated that the president of the court for the trial had detained Seyid Kılıç along with Atilla Taş, Murat Aksoy and Mutlu Çölgeçen when he served as the judge for the 1st Court of Peace of Istanbul.

Stating that a judge who had served during the investigation process cannot serve during the trial process under the current law, attorney Ceylan demanded the president of the court’s recusal. The demand was rejected. Ceylan then demanded a “judicial disqualification”. The panel of judges unanimously rejected the demand for judicial disqualification on the grounds of it being “non-procedural”.

At the first hearing, the president of the court wanted to receive the defendants’ statements before the indictment was read.

Attorney Gülşah Kaya said: “I want the indictment to be read”. The president of the court interrupted attorney Kaya’s words. Upon this, Kaya said: “A hearing does not proceed with this sort of back and forth exchange. I make a demand, and you make a decision. You at least have the responsibility to summarise the indictment”. However, the president of the court did not respond to the demand.

The indictment was not read. However, the statement “the indictment was read” was written in the court minutes. Attorney Ömer Kavili demanded “Let the minutes reflect that this is a false statement”. The panel of judges did not respond. Spectators applauded Kavili. In response to applause, the president of the court reacted by saying: “Who do you think you’re applauding?”

The final hearing of the trial took place on 31 March 2017. The prosecutor for the hearing demanded that 13 journalists, including Seyid Kılıç be released pending trial. The court added eight more journalists to the 13 people to be released pending trial. Thus, 21 journalists were released. The court prohibited the journalists from travelling abroad.

A series of developments took place on 31 March 2017 when the ruling was declared and the early hours of the following day.

Cem Küçük, who wrote columns for newspapers known to have adopted a pro-government publishing policy, stated the following in his social media account: “Every prosecutor and judge will be discharged from duty who ordered the release of apparent FETO members. This is the state’s definitive judgment. Everybody should know it.” He also stated the following: “The Ministry of Justice and the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors started to take action. God willing, the traitors will not be set free.”

The prosecutor for the hearing objected to the release of eight journalists, who were released by the court even though the prosecutor had not demanded their release the same day on 31 March 2017. Despite the release order, eight journalists were not released from prison and were remanded in custody again.

On the other hand, a new investigation commenced the same day concerning the 13 journalists, including Seyid Kılıç whose release the prosecutor for the hearing had demanded and the court ruled accordingly. Kılıç was charged with “attempting a coup”.

Thus, none of the journalists for whom release orders were issued were released on 31 March 2017.

The journalists concerning whom a release order was issued were taken to the Istanbul Directorate of Security on Vatan Boulevard while their families waited for them outside Silivri High Security Prison. The custody procedures lasted for two weeks.

12 of the 13 journalists who were detained again after their release were brought before the court on 14 April 2017 after custody procedures. They were remanded on the same day on charges of “attempting to destroy the constitutional order” and “attempting to destroy the Government of the Republic of Turkey” by the 2nd Criminal Court of Peace of Istanbul.

The arrest warrant included the “risk of flight” of the journalists as a justification. However, the court had prohibited the journalists from travelling abroad in its release order.

The president and two members of the panel of judges who issued the release orders for 21 journalists at the first hearing of the trial were suspended by the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors. Cem Küçük, who wrote columns for newspapers known to have adopted a pro-government publishing policy, stated the following in his social media account: “Every prosecutor and judge will be discharged from duty who ordered the release of apparent FETO members.”

Following these incidents, the second hearing of the trial took place on 27 April 2017.

At this hearing, the court heard witnesses testify about the journalists.

The third hearing of the trial took place on 6 July 2017. The panel of judges had changed once more at the third hearing of the trial.

The panel of judges rejected in its interim decision the demands of remanded journalists and their attorneys to be released at the end of the hearing.

THE SECOND INDICTMENT

Meanwhile, the second indictment concerning the 13 journalists who were ordered to be released at the first hearing of the trial, but were detained again as part of a new investigation, was presented to the court on 5 June 2017.

The allegations against Kılıç started on page 239 of the second indictment. The indictment included among the evidence the fact that Kılıç had a Social Security Institution registration with the holding company of Samanyolu TV where he worked at and which was later shut down. It was stated that the company with which Kılıç had a Social Security Institution registration was shut down by a Statutory Decree issued as part of the State of Emergency rule declared following the military coup attempt on 15 July 2016.

The records of Kılıç entering and leaving the country were also cited as evidence. The first indictment asserted that Kılıç’s sibling had a bank account at Bank Asya, where Kılıç was also alleged to have an account.

It was asserted that Kılıç “had communicated with individuals concerning whom an investigation and prosecution process were launched on allegations of being affiliated with ‘FETO’”. The indictment listed records of Kılıç’s communications with six people on various dates.

It was asserted that “there were records indicating Kılıç had installed the ByLock application that had been found in many court rulings to be a communication tool used by FETO”.

The prosecution demanded that Kılıç be sentenced on allegations of “being a part of the media structure of FETO/PDY armed terrorist organisation” and “taking part in the organisation’s activities to alter perceptions”.

The indictment charged Seyid Kılıç with “attempting to destroy the constitutional order by means of coercion and violence” and “attempting to destroy the Government of the Republic of Turkey by means of coercion and violence” in accordance with Article 309/1 and 312/1 of the Turkish Penal Code. The prosecution demanded that Kılıç be sentenced to two aggravated life sentences.

The first hearing of the trial for the second indictment took place on 16 August 2017. The court ordered the prosecution concerning the journalists to continue by merging the two indictments.

The first hearing of the trial that continued after the two indictments were merged took place on 24-25 October 2017. The panel of judges had changed for the third time at this hearing of the trial. The hearing began with the president of the court reading the documents received by the court.

The second hearing of the trial that continued after the two indictments were merged took place on 3-4 December 2017. Six witnesses were heard at the hearing. The court ruled that all remanded defendants should continue to be held in remand.

The third hearing of the trial took place on 8 February 2018. The prosecutor presented the opinion of the prosecution as to the accusations at this hearing.

The opinion of the prosecution demanded that Kılıç be acquitted on charges of “attempting to destroy the constitutional order by means of coercion and violence” and “attempting to destroy the Government of the Republic of Turkey by means of coercion and violence”. However, the prosecution demanded that Kılıç be sentenced on the charge of “membership of an armed terrorist organisation”.

Following the opinion of the prosecution, journalists’ attorneys objected to the sentence being demanded despite some evidence being in favour of the journalists. Attorneys also stated that there was no tangible evidence concerning the charge of “membership of an armed terrorist organisation”.

The fourth hearing of the trial took place on 22-23 February 2018.

The final hearing of the trial took place on 7-8 March 2018. Defensive statements against the opinion of the prosecution were heard during the sessions which lasted for two days. Kılıç was then asked for his final statement. The panel of judges delivered its ruling on 8 March 2018.

Kılıç was sentenced to imprisonment of seven years and six months on the charge of “membership of an armed terrorist organisation”.

Kılıç was acquitted of charges of “attempting to destroy the constitutional order by means of coercion and violence” and “attempting to destroy the Government of the Republic of Turkey by means of coercion and violence”. Thus, Seyid Kılıç, who was released at the first hearing of the trial and who was detained again as part of a second investigation, was acquitted of charges on the second indictment.

The court ruled that Kılıç should continue to be held in remand following the ruling.

The Appeals Process

Seyid Kılıç’s attorneys launched an appeal against the imprisonment sentence at the court of appeals.

The appeals process was carried out by the 2nd Penal Chamber of the Istanbul Circuit Courts of Appeals. The Chamber delivered its ruling on 22 October 2018.

The appeal was rejected in substance. The Chamber found that the ruling of the local court was lawful according to the methods and procedures. It was asserted that “the evidence in the file was sufficient for establishing the crime”.

The Court of Cassation Process

Seyid Kılıç’s attorneys brought the ruling approved by the court of appeals before the Court of Cassation.

The appeals process was conducted by the 16th Penal Chamber of the Court of Cassation. The attorneys demanded that the appeals process be conducted by means of hearings. However, their demands were rejected. The Chamber delivered its ruling on 16 March 2020.

The imprisonment sentence concerning Seyid Kılıç was approved by the Chamber.

The Court of Cassation ruled that the procedures concerning Kılıç were carried out lawfully, all evidence was collected in accordance with the law, and the defensive statements were heard in full. It was stated that the ruling was based on unequivocal, consistent and non-conflicting data.

The imprisonment sentence concerning Kılıç was then finalised. Kılıç had been in prison for three years and seven months when the imprisonment sentence was finalised.

Kılıç is currently serving his sentence as a convict at Istanbul Silivri Prison.

"Media Structure" Trial (Reasoned Judgement)

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

"Media Structure" Trial (Indictment)

"Media Structure" Trial (Indictment)

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