Yakup Çetin was a legal correspondent for the now-closed Zaman newspaper.
Zaman newspaper 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.
Çetin was detained on 26 July 2016 on allegations of “being affiliated with FETÖ media organisation” as part of the investigation commenced by the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office of Istanbul. The custody procedures lasted for three days.
Çetin 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.
Çetin 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 Çetin be sentenced to imprisonment of between five years and 10 years. Çetin 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. Çetin 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 Çetin with “attempting to destroy the constitutional order” and “attempting to destroy the government”. The prosecution demanded that Çetin be sentenced to two aggravated life sentences.
The two indictments were merged.
Çetin was sentenced to imprisonment of six years, three months on the charge 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 Çetin should be 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 trial file was once again sent to the court of first instance.
The 25th High Criminal Court of Istanbul ruled that Çetin be released pending trial on 15 June 2020.
The retrial concerning Çetin is currently underway.
Following the Court of Cassation’s overturning of the verdicts for the eight journalists, including Yakup Çetin, the file was sent to the 25th High Criminal Court of Istanbul for retrial.
The decision of 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 Yakup Çetin be released pending trial on 15 June 2020.
Six journalists, including Yakup Çetin had been in prison for three years and 10 months when they were released.
The retrial concerning 8 journalists, including Çetin, commenced with the first hearing at the 25th High Criminal Court of Istanbul on 4 November 2020. Çetin and other journalists attended the trial accompanied by their attorneys.
The prosecutor for the hearing demanded the Court of Cassation’s overturning decision to be approved. The court approved the decision.
Yakup Çetin requested to make his defensive statement at the next hearing of the trial. His request was accepted. Çetin requested the judicial supervision measures to be lifted. The request 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”.
Yakup Çetin, a legal correspondent for the now-closed Zaman newspaper, was one of the people under investigation.
Çetin was detained in Istanbul on 26 July 2016 as part of the investigation. The custody procedures lasted for three days. He was referred to the court to be remanded following the prosecutor’s questioning. Çetin was remanded the same day following the court’s questioning on the charge of “membership of an armed terrorist organisation”.
Çetin 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 Yakup Çetin, was completed on 16 January 2017.
The indictment concerning 29 defendants, of whom 27 were journalists, including Yakup Çetin, a legal correspondent for the now-closed Zaman newspaper, 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 (FETÖ-PDY)”. This part was identical with the texts in indictments prepared for similar cases.
The allegations concerning Çetin started on page 192 of the indictment. The indictment included information that Çetin had worked as a legal correspondent for Zaman newspaper, which was shut down by a statutory decree, following the appointment of a public administrator.
The indictment also listed outputs from Çetin’s social media account. The indictment listed his following outputs cited as evidence against Çetin:
. “The police, now the vanguard of the thieves, are attacking Zaman readers with [tear] gas and TOMAs [armoured anti-riot vehicles]”.
. “Those who are watching the seizure of Zaman like hungry dogs, we won’t forget your vileness!”
. “Zaman is under siege by more than 1000 police [officers]. They come and go as they please, even though they have no warrant. They are seizing recording devices”
. “Can a corruption committee, whose president, deputy, spokesperson and those under investigation are all from the AKP deliver justice?”
. “This person, who did not let Melek İpek enter her own house, is the director of AKP Bakırköy organisation. This is AKP extortion under the guise of public administration.”
. “Public administrators appointed to Koza are pool-fund managers, AKP’s MP candidates, assembly members, minister advisors. The goal is to turn the opposition media into heir backyard.”
. “AKP can do whatever it wants as long the opposition acts like this. The coast is clear anyway. The lunatics who arrest judges and prosecutors today will arrest politicians tomorrow.”
. “This is what AKP wants; to direct hate towards HDP and push it below the [electoral] threshold. Don’t hand them what they want on a silver platter.”
. “Administrators entered amidst people chanting ‘boo thieves’”.
. “Our newspaper is under occupation.”
. “The nonsense ‘Gezi was a coup’ was dismissed by the judges appointed by AKP. The prosecutor also demanded acquittal in the coup case filed against the Çarşı [fanbase of the sports club Beşiktaş]. They are all pointless.”
.“Appointing an administrator equals snatching, seizure. They are stealing, robbing through the prosecutor’s office.”
The indictment also included the interview Çetin held with the former Istanbul Security Directorate Financial Branch Manager, who used the initials Y.S., after the 2014 investigation publicly known as the “17-25 December corruption operation”, in which government members and their relatives were involved. Y.S. was later sentenced to imprisonment for life on the charge of “being affiliated with FETO”. In the interview, Y.S. had spoken about the investigation.
The indictment asserted that Çetin “by making news, aimed to announce to the public the discourses of the organisation while appearing to have conducted an interview with the former police officer, who was under investigation on the charge of organisation membership”.
The indictment asserted that Çetin “discredited the investigations against the organisation”. For this reason, it was asserted that Çetin “was altering perceptions on behalf of the organisation”.
The indictment charged Çetin with “membership of an armed terrorist organisation” in line with Article 314/2 of the Turkish Penal Code. The prosecution demanded that Çetin be sentenced to imprisonment of between five years and 10 years. It was also demanded that Çetin “be deprived of the enjoyment of certain rights” in accordance with Article 53 of the Turkish Penal Code.
The trial concerning 29 people, of whom 27 were journalists, including Yakup Çetin, a legal correspondent for the now-closed Zaman newspaper, commenced with the first hearing at the 25th High Criminal Court of Istanbul on 27-31 March 2017. Çetin 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 Yakup Çetin 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 Yakup Çetin be released pending trial. The court added eight more journalists to the 13 people to be released pending trial. 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 FETÖ 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 Yakup Çetin whose release the prosecutor for the hearing had demanded and the court ruled accordingly. Çetin was charged with “membership of an armed terrorist organisation” as part of the new investigation.
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 out of 13 journalists including Yakup Çetin who were detained again after their release were brought before the court after 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 FETÖ 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 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 including Yakup Çetin who were ordered to be released at the end of the first hearing of the trial, but were detained again as part of a new investigation was presented to the same court on 5 June 2017.
The indictment included among the evidence the fact that Çetin had a Social Security Institution registration with the publishing company of Zaman newspaper where he worked as a correspondent. It was asserted that Zaman newspaper “was affiliated with the media structure of the terrorist organisation”.
The indictment cited as evidence Çetin’s account activities at Bank Asya, which had been found in many court rulings to be “one of the FETO’s financial institutions”. It was asserted that “Fetullah Gülen gave instructions to deposit money to the bank after the bank was placed under investigation”. It was asserted that Çetin “deposited money to his account upon these instructions”.
The indictment listed 36 separate telephone calls Çetin made from his mobile phone. It was asserted that Çetin communicated with people “concerning whom an investigation and prosecution were launched on allegations of being affiliated with FETO”. The indictment stated that the names of journalist Mehmet Baransu’s father and attorney among the list of people Çetin had communicated with Baransu was on trial in remand at the time.
The indictment asserted that Çetin had participated in demonstrations that took place outside the Istanbul Security Directorate when Bugün TV and Kanaltürk were shut down. It was asserted that the rally was “held by organisation members”.
The indictment asserted that Çetin was “a part of the media structure of FETO/PDY armed terrorist organisation” and “took part in the organisation’s activities to alter perceptions”.
The indictment charged Çetin 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 Çetin 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 trial of 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 Yakup Çetin 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 Çetin 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 fourth hearing of the trial took place on 22-23 February 2018. Çetin made his defensive statement against the opinion of the prosecution as to the accusations at this hearing. Some parts of Çetin’s defensive statement are as follows:
“The calls I made for professional reasons are being presented as evidence of membership of a terrorist organisation. I was at Zaman as required by my work, and this cannot form the basis of the accusations.”
“The opinion of the prosecution charges me with two accusations. One is having worked at Zaman and the other one is my social media outputs. I worked as a correspondent for Zaman for five years. My social security contributions were paid to the Social Security Institution, and every copy of the newspaper was reviewed by the prosecutor’s office. I thought I was working at an institution under the state’s supervision. If I knew I was to be tried over membership of a terrorist organisation, I would not have worked there.”
“I resigned from my job at Yeni Hayat newspaper after 25-30 days on 15 July. The termination procedures were finalised on 16 July.”
“The indictment lists six tweets which I posted the day a public administrator was appointed to Zaman. I thought I would become unemployed that day. Looking back now, it feels unimportant. Apart from the 12 tweets cherry-picked and presented before you, I have always shared outputs regarding various aspects of life. I used social media like everybody else, and not in an organisational context.”
“According to the principle of equality, a fact which does not constitute the crime of membership of an organisation for another person should also not constitute a crime for me. As a result of this incident arising from having worked at a newspaper, my only expectation in life is to live in a small city with my family.”
Çetin’s attorney Şeyhmus Tekik stated the following: “Due to his position, Yakup Çetin could not have altered perceptions. Zaman newspaper had other legal correspondents too, but they were not brought before the court. The entire perception operation by Zaman newspaper was foisted on Yakup Çetin. In reality, he was one of the lowest-ranking correspondents. Yakup Çetin was a young man who wanted to become a journalist. He did not report on a single piece about the organisation.”
The final hearing of the trial took place on 7-8 March 2018. Çetin complained about having been forgotten by the public in his final say and stated the following: “One of the things which saddened me the most is having been treated as a statistic. I want you to regard me as a person.”
The panel of judges delivered its ruling at the second session on 8 March 2018. Yakup Çetin was sentenced to imprisonment of six years and three months on the charge of “membership of an armed terrorist organisation”.
Çetin was 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”. Thus, Çetin 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 Çetin should continue to be held in remand following the ruling.
The Appeals Process
Yakup Çetin’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
Journalist Yakup Çetin’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 Yakup Çetin for 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 Çetin should have been prosecuted on the charges of “aiding the armed terrorist organisation” instead of “membership of an armed terrorist organisation”.
Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.