Çetinkaya graduated from the Department of Primary Education at Gazi University in Ankara.
He started working at the information gathering department of Cihan News Agency, which was shut down in 1996. He worked as the education correspondent at the news centre of the now-closed Zaman newspaper in 1998. Çetinkaya worked at various departments of the newspaper until 2009.
In 2009, Çetinkaya became the Antalya Regional Representative of the now-closed Zaman newspaper. He was appointed as the Antalya Regional Representative of Anadolu Agency, the public news agency of Turkey, in 2012. Çetinkaya continued in this position until January 2015. Çetinkaya then worked as a correspondent at the Isparta Office of Anadolu Agency.
In 2015, Çetinkaya returned to work as the Antalya Regional Representative of the now-closed Zaman newspaper. Çetinkaya was laid off after a public administrator was appointed to the newspaper’s management.
Afterwards, Çetinkaya worked as the Antalya correspondent for the internet news website “Muhabir Ajansı” operating in Antalya. At the same time, he wrote columns on the internet news website “Bizim Antalya”.
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.
The Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office of Antalya started an investigation concerning Çetinkaya on the allegation of “FETO membership”. He was detained on 23 July 2016. The custody procedures lasted for three days. Çetinkaya was remanded on 26 July 2016 on the allegation of “membership of an armed terrorist organisation”. He was sent to Antalya Type L Prison.
Çetinkaya 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 Çetinkaya be sentenced to imprisonment of between seven years and six months and 15 years.
Çetinkaya was released pending trial on 29 March 2017 after the indictment was accepted. He was prohibited from travelling abroad. The prosecutor’s office filed an objection to the release order. The court accepted the objection. Çetinkaya was remanded again on 1 April 2017.
Çetinkaya was sentenced to imprisonment of seven years and six months on the charge of “membership of an armed terrorist organisation” at the sixth hearing of the trial held on 24 April 2018. Çetinkaya was released pending trial after the ruling, however he was prohibited from travelling abroad. The decision for his release was based on “poor health”.
The Court of Appeals’ investigation concerning the imprisonment sentence is pending.
The trial concerning the other journalists with whom Çetinkaya stood trial is underway. The trial concerning the journalists is underway at the same court with a different case number.
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.’”
Tuncer Çetinkaya, Antalya Regional Representative of the now-closed Zaman newspaper, was detained in Aksaray on 23 July 2016 as part of the investigation. During the search of Çetinkaya’s house, flash drives, a computer, a voice recording device, a mini camera, handheld radios, books allegedly belonging to Fetullah Gülen, two passports, a press-card, notes and bank receipts were confiscated.
Çetinkaya was charged with “membership of an armed terrorist organisation”.
According to the indictment, Çetinkaya said in the statement he gave at the Directorate of Anti-Terrorism Branch during the investigation process that “he was not a member of the FETO terrorist organisation, he did not know anything about this organisation, did not take part in any activities on behalf of the organisation, he was a journalist and would not have any interest or relations with terrorist organisations”. He stated that “he did not know the individuals who were members of the FETO terrorist organisation or acted on behalf of this organisation, he only had meetings with people due to his profession.”
Çetinkaya stated that his activities during the time he worked at the now-closed Zaman newspaper were within the law and he did not engage in any illegal activities. He stated that “he was a person who worked at lower positions at the newspaper, at the local level, not in the higher management”.
Regarding him leaving Zaman newspaper and transferring to the Anadolu Agency, Çetinkaya said in his statement that “he was forced to leave his post at Zaman newspaper due to having job interviews with the Anadolu Agency on the recommendation of (former) Antalya Metropolitan Municipality Mayor Menderes Türel and Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu”.
Çetinkaya stated that three of his articles were published on the “Bizim Antalya” internet news website, owned by Olgun Matur, who was also a suspect in the same investigation, and where Matur also wrote columns. He stated that “none of his articles had the quality of being articles that criticised the government as part of the terrorist organisation’s goals” and he was an objective journalist.
The custody procedures lasted for three days. Çetinkaya was remanded by the ruling of the 3rd Court of Peace of Antalya on 26 July 2016.
Journalists Cihan Ünal, Özkan Mayda, Olgun Matur, Kenan Baş, Ömer Özdemir and Osman Yakut, who were detained on the same date with Çetinkaya, 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.
Çetinkaya 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 started another investigation concerning the journalists. Çetinkaya, as well as other journalists Cihat Ünal, Serhat Şeftali, 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 Tuncer Çetinkaya, former Antalya Regional Representative for the now-closed Zaman newspaper, along with the other journalists working in Antalya was completed by the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office of Antalya, Office of Investigation for Crimes Against the Constitution 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 Çetinkaya had worked as the Antalya Regional Representative of Zaman newspaper until December 2011, and “was discharged from his duty at Anadolu Agency following the 17-25 December period”.
A number of ministers and their children were involved in the allegations of “corruption and bribery” within the investigation publicly known as the “17-25 December operation” launched in 2013.
The indictment charged Çetinkaya with “carrying out journalistic activities at media outlets of the FETO terrorist organisation”.
The same indictment cited as evidence Çetinkaya’s articles that were published in “Bizim Antalya” internet news website owned by Olgun Matur, who was also a writer for the website. Olgun Matur was also listed in the indictment as a defendant.
Çetinkaya was charged with “stating that the country was not being run by democracy, but by dictatorial practices” in his articles. However, the indictment did not include the content of the articles.
Tuncer Çetinkaya was charged with “cooperating with Olgun Matur”.
Çetinkaya was also charged with sharing social media outputs regarding the appointment of a public administrator to Zaman newspaper prior its closure. It was asserted that he “liked the Facebook pages of persons, institutions, media organisations and educational institutions affiliated with FETO” on his Facebook account. It was asserted that Çetinkaya “had shared outputs on his Twitter account which praised FETO, its leader and activities”.
The indictment also asserted that the examination of seven confiscated CDs from Çetinkaya’s home revealed videos of Fetullah Gülen.
It was asserted that two videotape cassettes found in his home “had recordings of speeches by Ekrem Dumanlı, who was the former executive editor of Zaman newspaper”.
The indictment charged Tuncer Çetinkaya 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 Çetinkaya 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 Olgun Matur, Özkan Mayda, Cihat Ünal, Kenan Baş, Ömer Özdemir, Osman Yakut 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 Çetinkaya 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.
Çetinkaya was released pending trial after the indictment was accepted by the court, and was prohibited from travelling abroad. However, the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office of Antalya objected to court’s release order. An arrest warrant was issued concerning Çetinkaya on 1 April 2017, and he was placed in custody again.
Çetinkaya objected to the ruling that lifted the release order. The objection was rejected by the 4th High Criminal Court of Antalya on 10 April 2017.
The trial concerning the journalists including Tuncer Çetinkaya, former Antalya Regional Representative of 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.
Çetinkaya was brought in from prison to attend the first hearing. Çetinkaya stated that the mobile phone in which “the ByLock application that was allegedly used by people who were allegedly FETO members to communicate with each other” was installed did not belong to him. He stated that he had used the phone lines owned by the companies he worked at during his employment.
Çetinkaya said: “I never became a member of any terrorist organisation, I have worked for legal establishments.” Çetinkaya stated that he had written three articles published on the “Bizim Antalya” internet news website owned by Olgun Matur, who was being tried in the same trial, and on which Matur also wrote columns. Çetinkaya stated that two articles were regarding Antalya’s tourism problems, and one was about the election of university rectors. He added that he had written one article following the military coup attempt on 15 July 2016. Çetinkaya stated that he “had cursed the coup” in this article. Çetinkaya stated the following:
“I have kidney disease. Prison conditions are severe. I have been under arrest for nine months. I underwent an operation in prison. I also have high blood pressure. Within four months, the cysts in my kidneys were detected to have grown. I started undergoing psychological therapy in prison. I demand my acquittal and release.”
The prosecutor for the hearing presented to the court the report prepared by the Antalya Provincial Security Directorate, which asserted that the ByLock application was detected in Çetinkaya’s phone. The indictment had not mentioned the allegations regarding the ByLock application having been detected on Çetinkaya’s phone.
Çetinkaya’s attorney Veli Solmaz demanded the subscription contract for the phone line, which was allegedly detected to contain the ByLock application, be investigated. The court accepted the demand.
Çetinkaya’s other attorney Mücahit Gündoğdu stated that “an effective investigation was not launched within reasonable time”, and demanded Çetinkaya’s release under judicial supervision.
However, the court ruled that Çetinkaya should continue to be held in remand. The court ruled that Çetinkaya be transferred to a state hospital where a report would be prepared to determine whether or not Çetinkaya’s stay in prison would lead to severe damage to his health.
Çetinkaya’s attorneys objected to the decision for Çetinkaya to continue to be held in remand. However, the objection was rejected by the 3rd High Criminal Court of Antalya.
The second hearing of the trial took place on 24 May 2017. The panel of judges had changed at this hearing. Çetinkaya was brought in from prison to attend the hearing.
Çetinkaya replied to the allegations which asserted that the ByLock application was detected on his phone by stating that he had changed mobile phones six or seven times in recent years, and that he could not remember if the mentioned phone number belonged to him. He stated that he had never installed or used the ByLock application.
Çetinkaya stated that the indictment had not charged him with using the ByLock application and said, “This report concerning me was received nine months later. I refuse to accept this report”.
However, Çetinkaya’s attorney had demanded in the first hearing that the subscription agreement of the phone line, which was allegedly detected to contain the ByLock application, be investigated, and the court had accepted this demand. The court announced that the demanded subscription agreement had been added to the case file. When questioned, Çetinkaya said, “The signature in the agreement belongs to me. The copy of the identity card in its annex belongs to me.”
Çetinkaya’s attorney Veli Solmaz said, “The subscription agreement was read, however the termination date is not certain. We demand this matter to be investigated.”
Çetinkaya’s other attorney Ahmet İbrahim Aydın stated the following:
“As a result of the state’s reflexive reaction to the [coup] attempt, investigations were ran in an unprofessional manner. There is no competent evidence concerning my client. The court expects correspondence from a number of government agencies, and my client is in no position to alter or obscure this correspondence. His prolonged detention was turned into a form of punishment. My client asserted that he did not use the ByLock application. The received report stated otherwise. The client wrote articles damning the coup. We think that his detention is the result of his oppositional stance against some local authorities.”
The court ruled that Çetinkaya should continue to be held in remand. His attorneys objected to the ruling. The objection was rejected by the 3rd High Criminal Court of Antalya.
The third hearing of the trial took place on 6 October 2017. Çetinkaya was brought in from prison to attend the hearing.
Çetinkaya demanded that the investigation concerning the ByLock application allegations be extended. Çetinkaya gave the following explanation regarding his demand:
“It was previously stated that there were no records of the ByLock application on my mobile phone. It was asserted that the application was detected on a phone number which I stopped using two years ago. For these reasons, I request that my demand for the investigation to be extended be accepted.”
The prosecutor for the hearing demanded that Çetinkaya should continue to be held in remand.
Çetinkaya’s attorney Ayşe Kızıler stated that Çetinkaya was being accused of using the ByLock application on a phone line to which he had cancelled his subscription. She stated that the rulings of the Court of Cassation emphasised the contents of the communication allegedly carried out via the ByLock application. Attorney Kızıler demanded that Çetinkaya be released under judicial supervision.
The court ruled that Çetinkaya should continue to be held in remand. His attorneys objected to the ruling. The court rejected their objection.
However, in line with the attorney’s demand, the court ordered the Antalya Security Directorate to present reports and baseline documents regarding the allegations related to the ByLock application.
The fourth hearing of the trial took place on 8 December 2017. At the previous hearing, the court had demanded reports concerning the allegations regarding Çetinkaya having used the ByLock application on his phone from the Antalya Security Directorate. However, the security directorate announced that they had received a written document stating that the information should be demanded by the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office of Antalya.
The prosecutor for the hearing presented the opinion of the prosecution as to the accusations at this hearing.
The opinion of the prosecution charged Çetinkaya, 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 Çetinkaya, again in keeping with the indictment, be sentenced to imprisonment of between seven years and six months and 15 years.
The fifth hearing of the trial took place on 1 February 2018. The panel of judges had changed once again at this hearing.
Çetinkaya stated that he did not know the witness who testified against him. He stated the following: “I did not start working at Anadolu Agency on the instructions of the organisation. On the contrary, I started working at Anadolu Agency on the recommendations of AKP [Justice and Development Party] deputies Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and Mustafa Köse, [Antalya]metropolitan municipality mayor Menderes Türel and Hakan Tütüncü.
The prosecutor for the hearing repeated the opinion of the prosecution as to the accusations presented at the last hearing.
Çetinkaya stated that he had been under arrest for 19 months, had severe health conditions and he had lost 50 per cent kidney functioning in prison.
The court ruled that Çetinkaya should continue to be held in remand. The attorneys objected to the ruling, however the objection was rejected by the 3rd High Criminal Court of Antalya.
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.
Çetinkaya’s attorney Burhan Aydın stated that the allegations concerning the use of the ByLock application constituted doubtful evidence. Aydın stated “there is no concrete evidence suggesting that my client had knowingly and willingly become a member of the terrorist organisation”.
The court announced its ruling at this hearing. Tuncer Çetinkaya was sentenced to imprisonment of nine years on the charges of “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 court ruled that the imprisonment sentence be reduced by one sixth due to Çetinkaya’s “good behaviour during the trial process and possible impacts of the sentence on his future”.
Çetinkaya was consequently sentenced to imprisonment of seven years and six months. The court prohibited Çetinkaya from travelling abroad.
The court ruled on Çetinkaya’s release following the imprisonment sentence. The ruling was based on the health reports that were presented and obtained during the trial process. The ruling was based on the “difficulty of treatment of the vital organs under prison conditions”.
The court did not deliver verdicts concerning the other journalists who were being tried along with Çetinkaya. It was ruled that the trial concerning the journalists be continued by the same court under a different case number.
The examination of the ruling concerning Çetinkaya by the court of appeals is ongoing.
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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