Tanık was born in Adıyaman in 1960. He graduated from the Department of Turkish Language and Literature at Istanbul University.
Tanık started out as a journalist at Tercüman newspaper. He later worked at Meydan and Türkiye newspapers. He started out as a TV journalist at the TGRT channel. He worked on the “Arena” programme presented by Uğur Dündar at Kanal 6 and Kanal D. He worked at Kanal 7 for a long time.
Afterwards, he set up the Rota Haber internet news website. He acted as the executive director of the website.
Rota Haber 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.
An arrest warrant was issued concerning Tanık 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 indictment completed on 16 January 2017 charged Tanık with “membership of an armed terrorist organisation”. The prosecution demanded that Tanık be sentenced to imprisonment of between five years and 10 years.
Tanık was detained in Yalova on 17 January 2017, a day after the indictment was completed. He was taken to Istanbul, where the investigation was being conducted. He was remanded on 18 January 2017 on the charge of “membership of an armed terrorist organisation”.
Tanık 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 overturned the imprisonment sentence on 16 March 2020. The Court of Cassation ruled that Tanık should have been put on trial on the charge of “knowingly and willingly aiding the armed terrorist organisation despite not being a member of its hierarchical structure” instead of “membership of an armed terrorist organisation”. The case file was returned to the court of first instance for retrial.
The 25th High Criminal Court of Istanbul ruled that Tanık be released pending trial on 15 June 2020.
The retrial concerning Tanık is currently underway.
Following the Court of Cassation’s overturning of the verdicts for the eight journalists, the file was sent to the 25th High Criminal Court of Istanbul for retrial.
The decision overturning the verdicts for journalists was uploaded to the National Judiciary Informatics System on 8 June 2020.
Before the first hearing of the retrial, the court ruled for the release of six out of eight journalists pending trial. The court ruled Ünal Tanık to be released on 15 June 2020.
The retrial concerning eight journalists, including Ünal Tanık, commenced with the first hearing at the 25th High Criminal Court of Istanbul on 4 November 2020. Tanık and other journalists attended the trial accompanied by their attorneys.
The prosecutor for the hearing demanded the Court of Cassation’s overturning to be approved. The court approved the demand.
Tanık said in his defensive statement that he was charged with membership of the organisation in the indictment; however the accusation did not reflect the truth. Tanık stated the following: “There were many news items prepared regarding Fuat Avni. We were not the only ones to have prepared these news items. Newspapers such as Hürriyet, Milliyet and Sözcü also published said news items. If it was a crime, these newspapers and their personnel should have also been brought before the court. I demand my acquittal.”
Tanık requested judicial supervision measures to be lifted. The demand was rejected.
The court ruled that the retrial will proceed with the second hearing on 31 March 2021.
09:30’da başlaması beklenen duruşma mahkeme heyetinin yerini almasıyla birlikte 20 dakika gecikme ile başladı. Duruşmada yargılanan gazeteciler Ünal Tanık, Ahmet Memiş, Yetkin Yıldız, Cemal Azami Kalyoncu, Yakup Çetin, Ali Akkuş ve Gökçe Fırat Çulhanoğlu ile avukatları hazır bulundu.
Mahkeme heyeti, duruşmanın başında dosyaya yeni gelen bilgi ve belgeleri okudu. Gazeteci Yetkin Yıldız hakkında beyanda bulunan iki tanığın duruşmaya gelmediği açıklandı.
Duruşmada tanık olarak Yusuf Ahmet Kaymak dinlendi. Ardından söz alan yargılanan gazeteciler, haklarında uygulanan ayda bir en yakın karakola imza vermek şeklindeki adli kontrol hükmünün kaldırılmasını talep etti.
Yeniden başlayan yargılamanın ilk duruşmasında savunma yapmayan Gökçe Fırat Çulhaoğlu, savunmasını yaptı. Çulhaoğlu, yazılı savunmasını mahkeme heyetine verdi.
Çulhaoğlu, “Ben bu örgütle hep savaştım. Bu yüzden bu örgütün hiçbir zaman üyesi olmadım. Yardım ya da destekte de bulunmadım. Bu yüzden bozma ilamına katılmıyorum. Beraatimi talep ediyorum” dedi.
Avukatlarda müvekkilleri hakkında uygulanan imza şeklindeki adli kontrol hükmünün kaldırılmasını istedi.
Atilla Taş’ın avukatı Sevgi Kalan yaptığı savunmada, Avrupa İnsan Hakları Mahkemesi’nin (İHAM) müvekkili hakkında verdiği ihlal kararını hatırlattı. Avukat Kalan, Atilla Taş’ın dosyasının ayrılarak, hakkında beraat kararı verilmesini istedi.
Duruşmaya kısa bir ara veren mahkeme heyeti, Atilla Taş’ın avukatı Sevgi Kalan’ın taleplerini AİHM kararı dosyaya ulaştıktan sonra değerlendireceğine karar verdi. Mahkeme heyeti, yargılanan gazeteciler hakkında var olan ayda bir en yakın karakola imza vermek şeklindeki adli kontrol hükmünü kaldırdı.
Duruşma, 26 Ekim 2021 tarihine, saat 09:50’ye ertelendi.
Covid-19 pandemisi kapsamında adliye girişinde avukat ve yurttaşların giriş ve çıkışları bariyerlerle ayrılmıştı. Adliyeye girişler HES kodu sorgulanıp, ateş ölçümü ve X-Ray cihazından geçirilerek yapıldı. Duruşma salonunun bulunduğu kat bariyerlerle kapatılmıştı. Mahkeme başkanının talimatı üzerine 3 gazeteci duruşmaya alındı.
Mahkeme Salonu Koşulları
Duruşmanın görüldüğü salon ufak bir salondu. Pandemi önlemleri kapsamında duruşmaya salonunda uyarı yazıları yer aldı.
Duruşmayı P24 ve TGS izledi.
Duruşma yapıldığı sırada, altı yıl önce odasında rehin alınarak öldürülen İstanbul Cumhuriyet Savcısı Mehmet Selim Kiraz için anma töreni düzenlendi. Anmada yapılan konuşmalar ve çalınan İstiklal Marşı sesi duruşma salonuna geliyordu. İstiklal Marşı çalındığı sırada mahkeme heyeti, yargılanan gazeteciler ve avukatlar ile izleyicilerde saygı duruşunda bulundu.
Yargıtay’ın bozma kararının ardından yeniden başlayan yargılamanın ilk duruşması, daha önce belirlenen saatinde başladı.
Hakkındaki yargılamanın yeniden başladığı gazeteciler Ahmet Memiş, Cemal Azmi Kalyoncu, Gökçe Fırat Çulhaoğlu, Ünal Tanık, Yakup Çetin, Yetkin Yıldız, Atila Taş ve Ali Akkuş; duruşmaya avukatları ile birlikte katıldı.
Duruşma, gazeteciler hakkında verilen hapis cezası kararına ilişkin Yargıtay’ın bozma kararının okunması ile başladı.
Duruşma savcısı, Yargıtay’ın bozma kararına uyulmasını talep etti.
Mahkeme heyeti verdiği ara kararda, gazeteciler hakkında verilen bozma kararına uyulmasına karar verdi.
Mahkeme heyeti, kapatılan Zaman Gazetesi’nin eski yazarlarından Hüseyin Gülerce’nin gazetecilerle aleyhindeki tanık beyanının dosyaya eklendiğini açıkladı.
Gazeteciler, ara kararın ardından yeniden yargılama kapsamındaki ilk savunmalarını yaptı.
Ünal Tanık, iddianame kapsamında örgüt üyeliği ile suçlandığını ifade ederek, suçlamanın gerçeği yansıtmadığını kaydetti. Tanık, “Fuat Avni ile ilgili birçok haber yapıldı. Bu haberleri bir tek biz yapmadık. Hürriyet, Milliyet, Sözcü gibi gazeteler de bu haberleri yaptı. Suç ise bu gazetelere ya da çalışanlarına da dava açılmalıydı. Ben beraatımı istiyorum” dedi.
Ahmet Memiş, “Fuat Avni’nin açıklamaları haber niteliği taşıyordu. Haber niteliği varsa haber yapılır. Fuat Avni tweetleri suç ise Türkiye’de ki tüm gazeteciler hakkında soruşturma açılmalı, gazeteler ve TV’ler kapatılmalı. Fuat Avni’nin tweetlerini bunlarda haber yaptı. Bu örgütle ile hiçbir bağım yok. Bank Asya’ya da para yatırmadım. Gazetecilik yaptım ben” diye konuştu.
Yetkin Yıldız, dava kapsamında yaklaşık olarak dört yıl tutuklu kaldığını ifade ederek, “Dört yılın sonunda adalet yüzümüze güldü ve buradayız. Ben sadece işimin ekmeğimin derdindeyim. Fuat Avni haberleri suç mudur? Sadece biz dört gazeteci için suç. Habertürk, Hürriyet, Posta da buna dair haberler yaptı. Adalet mekanizması, var olan çifte standarda son vermeli artık” dedi.
Cemal Azmi Kalyoncu, “Ben gazetecilik yaptım sadece” diyerek, 14-15 yaşlarından bu yana gazetecilik yaptığını belirtti. Kalyoncu, beraatini talep etti.
Ali Akkuş, çalıştığı tüm kurumlarda gazetecilik ve haberciliği savunduğunu ifade ederek, kapatılan Zaman Gazetesi’nde çalıştığı süre boyunca da gazetenin genel yayın yönetmeni Ekrem Dumanlı ile sık sık tartıştığını ve bu yüzden de pozisyonunun sürekli düşürüldüğünü söyledi. Akkuş, FETÖ ile hiçbir bağlantısının olmadığını söyledi.
Gökçe Fırat Çulhaoğlu, savunmasında Hüseyin Gülerce’nin hakkında verdiği tanık beyanlarına atıfta bulunarak, “Hüseyin Gülerce, bu insan Zaman Gazetesi’nde çalıştı. Benim için kripto diyor. Kriptoyu biliyorsa, yönetmiş bu ekibi. Tipik bir komplocu mantık” dedi.
Atilla Taş, “Sayın Cumhurbaşkanının avukatları bu noktada çok iyi. Bir hakaret varsa ertesi gün ya soruşturma açılır ya da tutuklanırsınız. Ben daha önce yargılandım ve beraat ettim. Suçlamayı kabul etmiyorum. Biz düzmece bir iddianame ile ikinci defa tutuklandık. Bir utanç yargı açısından. Biz duvara anlatsaydık bunları, duvar beraat ederdi. Biz yorulduk, biz suçsuzuz. Beraatımı istiyorum. Biz artık adalete inanmak istiyoruz, devletten soğumak istemiyoruz” diye konuştu.
Yakup Çetin ise savunmasını, yargılamanın bir sondaki duruşmasında yapmayı talep etti.
Tüm gazeteciler haklarında uygulanan adli kontrol tedbirlerinin kaldırılmasını istedi.
Gazetecilerin ardından söz alan avukatlar da müvekkillerinin suçsuz olduğunu belirterek, haklarındaki adli kontrol kararlarının kaldırılmasını istedi.
Duruşma savcısı, dosyadaki eksik hususların giderilmesini talep etti.
Mahkeme heyeti, duruşmaya kısa bir ara verdi.
Mahkeme, gazetecilerin haklarındaki adli kontrol tedbirlerinin kaldırılması yönündeki taleplerini reddetti.
Ayrıca, Atilla Taş için “Cumhurbaşkanına Hakaret” ve “Türk Milletini, Türkiye Cumhuriyeti Devletini, Türkiye Büyük Millet Meclisini, Türkiye Cumhuriyeti Hükümetini ve Devletin yargı organlarını alenen aşağılama” suçlamaları yönünden Adalet Bakanlığı’ndan izin istenmesine karar verdi.
Yeniden başlayan yargılamanın, 31 Mart 2021 tarihinde görülecek ikinci duruşma ile devam etmesine karar verildi.
Koronavirüs karşısında alınan önlemler kapsamında, adliyeye; tek sıra halinde girilebildi. Bu düzen, bariyerlerle sağlandı. Ateş ölçümü ve X-Ray taraması yapıldı.
Adliye içinde duruşma salonunun bulunduğu kat, bariyerlerle kapatılmıştı.
Mahkeme Salonu Koşulları
Duruşma, küçük bir mahkeme salonunda görüldü. Duruşma salonunda, koronavirüs pandemisi karşısında alınan önlemlerin yazılı olduğu uyarı yazıları asılıydı.
Mahkeme başkanı, sadece üç gazetecinin duruşma salonuna girmesine izin verdi.
Duruşmayı Bağımsız Gazetecilik Platformu (P24), Disk Basın-İş, Medya ve Hukuk Çalışmaları Derneği (MLSA) gözlemcileri takip etti.
Mahkeme heyetinin, gazetecilere yaklaşımı kibardı. Gazetecilere sık sık sorular yöneltildi.
Mahkeme heyeti, duruşma öncesinde; koronavirüs pandemisi nedeniyle gazetecileri duruşmaya almayacağını özel güvenlik görevlilerine iletse de avukatların heyet ile görüşmesi ardından üç gazetecinin duruşmayı izlemesine izin verildi.
Heyet, koronavirüs pandemisi nedeniyle yargılanan gazetecilerin yan yana oturmasına izin vermedi. Bu nedenle gazetecilerden bazıları, duruşmaya; izleyici sıralarından katıldı.
"Media Structure" Trial (Retrial) 2. Standing (Minutes of the Hearing)
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”.
Ünal Tanık, executive director of the now-closed Rota Haber internet news website, was one of the people under investigation.
Tanık could not be detained during the first part of the investigation. The 9th Court of Peace of Istanbul issued an arrest warrant concerning Tanık on 12 August 2016.
Tanık was detained in Yalova on 17 January 2017. He was taken to Istanbul, where the investigation was being conducted. The custody procedures took one day.
Tanık was remanded on 18 January 2017 on the charge of “membership of an armed terrorist organisation”. Tanık was taken to the Silivri Closed High Security Prison in Istanbul.
The indictment concerning Tanık was completed on 16 January 2017, a day before he was detained.
The indictment concerning 29 defendants, of whom 27 were journalists, including Ünal Tanık, executive director of the now-closed Rota Haber internet news website, 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 Tanık started on page 190 of the indictment and took up just one page. The indictment listed some of Tanık’s articles on the now-closed Rota Haber website, of which he was the executive director, and social media outputs.
Tanık was charged with news stories concerning the outputs from the “Fuat Avni” Twitter 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 indictment stated that one of Tanık’s outputs read: “@fuatavni, who shakes up Turkey’s agenda with his writings, is on Rotahaber with his articles”.
The indictment also included an output from the @fuatavni account on 20 March 2014, which said: “Good people, I will be with you on ‘rotahaber.com’ with my columns. For your information…”
The indictment asserted that Tanık “increased the popularity of the @fuatavni account and allowed the account to engage in black propaganda on behalf of the organisation on the website he owned”.
The indictment stated that an article titled ““All Projects On Go Just Before [They Are] Out”” had been published on the website on 29 March 2014, which had the signature of Fuat Avni. It was asserted that “the article was about the National Intelligence Organisation and Hakan Fidan, the chief of the organisation”.
A criminal complaint was filed by the National Intelligence Organization Legal Department after the article was published, and an investigation was started by the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office of Ankara. It was asserted as part of the investigation that “information was requested concerning the IP addresses of the individual(s) who used the nickname @fuatavni that was recorded in the log records during their connection” but Tanık sent a letter to the prosecutor’s office which said: “no ID information was found”.
The prosecutor asserted concerning this statement that “It is not natural for the owner of a website to employ an individual as a writer without possessing such information”.
The indictment stated that books authored by Fetullah Gülen confiscated during the house search carried out in the residence where Ünal Tanık lived with her spouse and M. Tanık, who was a suspect under the same investigation. However, no information was disclosed about the titles of these books.
The indictment charged Tanık with “membership of an armed terrorist organisation” in line with Article 314/2 of the Turkish Penal Code. The prosecution demanded that Tanık be sentenced to imprisonment of between five years and 10 years. It was also demanded that Tanık “be deprived of the enjoyment of certain rights” in accordance with Article 53 of the Turkish Penal Code.
Ünal Tanık was detained and remanded after the indictment was completed.
The indictment was accepted by the 25th High Criminal Court of Istanbul.
The trial concerning 29 defendants, of whom 27 were journalists, including Ünal Tanık, the executive director of the now-closed Rota Haber internet news website, commenced with the first hearing at the 25th High Criminal Court of Istanbul on 27-31 March 2017. Tanık had been in prison for over two months when he first stood trial.
Attorney Ali Deniz Ceylan stated that the president of the court for the trial had detained Ünal Tanık 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 be released pending trial. The court added eight more journalists to the 13 people to be released pending trial. Thus, the court ruled that 21 journalists including Abdullah Kılıç be released. It was ruled that Ünal Tanık should continue to be held in remand.
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 whose release the prosecutor for the hearing had demanded and the court ruled accordingly.
Thus, none of the journalists for whom release orders were issued were released on 31 March 2017.
12 of the 13 journalists including Abdullah Kılıç who were detained again after their release were brought before the court following the custody procedures on 14 April 2017. 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 this hearing. 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.
Meanwhile, the second indictment completed on 5 June 2017 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 same court.
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 Tanık 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 Tanık 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 of the 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 final hearing of the trial took place on 7-8 March 2018. Ünal made his defensive statement against the opinion of the prosecution as to the accusations at the hearing. Tanık stated the following regarding a photograph listed in the indictment as “suspicious”: “Yasin Aktay, a spokesperson for AKP [Justice and Development Party] can also be seen in the photograph. Why is the person who invited me to that meeting not being blamed?” Tanık made the following defensive statement in summary:
“The expert cited as evidence a correspondence between me and Taha Ün on social media. I checked if there was a misinformation in the correspondence. It was treated as a conversation between a superior and a subordinate.”
“Taha Ün’s marriage ceremony was performed by the President. His wife worked with Emine Erdoğan. There were two reasons why we had prepared news items regarding Fuat Avni at Rota Haber: Fuat Avni was being frequently discussed on the news, and the website was being frequently visited. I accepted Fuat Avni’s request, which I received over a ‘DM’ [Twitter Direct Messaging], to write on the website so that the website would gain popularity. We parted ways after 6-7 articles.”
“It was me who first encouraged Ersoy Dede, Hüseyin Yayman and Cem Küçük to write articles for the Haber 7 website. Halime Kökçe, Meryem Gayberi and Yaşar Taşkın Koç were among the people who wrote articles for the first time for Rota Haber. [You] do not establish and organisational connection between me and these people who work at other platforms today, but [establish an organisational connection between] me and Ahmet Memiş, who quit our organisation contentiously.”
“A state based on the rule of the law should be predictable. Some news articles were prohibited in one period. We also implemented this prohibition. If preparing news items regarding Fuat Avni was a crime, why did the court not prohibit it? If today’s good deeds are to be considered crimes tomorrow, will the state not be perceived as laying traps for its citizens? I have done nothing but journalisö. I want to benefit from the law just as the people who uttered the words ‘God, what have I done?’ after having aided this structure did.”
Tanık’s attorney Yusuf Taş stated that “Ünal Tanık had chosen the difficult path in the fight between AKP and the congregation, and practiced his profession”. Taş said the following: “In order to reinstate measurability and predictability principles of the law, we demand Ünal Tanık’s release and acquittal.”
Attorneys were heard after the defensive statements. The panel of judges asked for the final say of the defendant journalists. Tanık’s final say was the following: “I’ve laid out my whole life clearly before you. I was a journalist. I demand my release and acquittal.”
Taking into account “the manner in which the crime was committed and the intensity of criminal intent”, the panel of judges ruled that Tanık be sentenced to imprisonment of seven years and six months on the charge of “membership of an armed terrorist organisation”.
The defendants who were being tried in remand were not released following the ruling.
The Appeals Process
Journalist Ünal Tanık’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
Tanık’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 Court of Cassation overturned the imprisonment sentence of journalist Ünal Tanık on the charge of “membership of an armed terrorist organisation”.
The ruling of the Court of Cassation stated that the local court “erred in the classification of the offence”. It was stated that “the alleged acts of the journalists were not adequate to establish them as members of the organisation”. The ruling stated that Tanık should have been prosecuted on the charges of “aiding the armed terrorist organisation” instead of “membership of an armed terrorist organisation”.
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