Yetkin Yıldız

Yetkin Yıldız was the executive director of the Aktif Haber news website, to which access has been restricted.

Access to Aktif Haber internet news website was restricted by the Criminal Court of Peace of Gölbaşı in Ankara on 17 July 2016.

Yıldız was detained on 23 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 one day. Yıldız was remanded on 24 July 2016 on the charge of “membership of an armed terrorist organisation”. He was taken to the Silivri Closed High Security Prison.

Yıldız 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 Yıldız be sentenced to imprisonment of between five years and 10 years.

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

The two indictments were merged.

Yıldız was sentenced to imprisonment of six years and 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 Yıldız 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 Yıldız be released pending trial on 15 June 2020.

The retrial concerning Yıldız is currently underway.

"Media Structure" Trial (Retrial)

Following the Court of Cassation’s overturning of the verdicts for the eight journalists, including Yetkin Yıldız, 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 Yeetkin Yıldız to be released on 15 June 2020.

Six journalists, including Yetkin Yıldız had been in prison for three years and 10 months when they were released.

The retrial concerning eight journalists, including Yıldız, commenced with the first hearing at the 25th High Criminal Court of Istanbul on 4 November 2020. Yıldız and other journalists attended the hearing accompanied by their attorneys.

The prosecutor for the hearing demanded the Court of Cassation’s overturning to be approved. The court approved the demand.

Stating that he was remanded for four years as part of the trial, Yetkin Yıldız said the following: “After four years, justice smiled upon us and here we are. I only care about earning my livelihood and pursuing my career. Does the news related to Fuat Avni constitute a crime? It constitutes a crime for only us four journalists. Haber Türk, Hürriyet and Posta also published news regarding this [Fuat Avni]. The justice mechanism should put an end to this double standard.”

Yıldız 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.

2. Standing - March 31, 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.


Duruşma Öncesi

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.

Duruşmaya Katılım

Duruşmayı P24 ve TGS izledi.

Genel Gözlemler

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.

1. Standing - Nov. 4, 2020


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.


Duruşma Öncesi

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.

Duruşmaya Katılım

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.

Genel Gözlemler

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)

"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”.

Yetkin Yıldız, the executive director of the access-restricted Aktif Haber news website, was one of the people under investigation.

Yıldız was detained in Istanbul on 26 July 2016. The custody procedures lasted for one day.

In his testimony during the investigation process, Yıldız stated that they reported about the outputs posted by the “Fuat Avni” account because “they thought these outputs had journalistic value”.

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.

Yıldız was brought before the court on 24 July 2016. He was referred to the court to be remanded following the prosecutor’s questioning. Yıldız was remanded the same day 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.

Yıldız 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 Yetkin Yıldız was completed on 16 January 2017.

The indictment concerning 29 defendants, of whom 27 were journalists, including Yetkin Yıldız, the executive director of the access-restricted Aktif 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 (FETÖ-PDY)”. This part was identical with the texts in indictments prepared for similar cases.

The allegations concerning Yıldız started on page 193 of the indictment. The indictment stated that Yıldız was the executive director of the Aktif Haber website, to which access was restricted later. The indictment asserted that the website was “one of the websites used by the organisation to alter perceptions”. It was also asserted that the website “frequently announced to the public the outputs posted by the ‘Fuat Avni’ account, which is the black propaganda account of the organisation”.

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 included details about Yıldız’s account activities at Bank Asya, which had been asserted in many court rulings to be “FETO’s financial institution”.

The indictment also cited among evidence an issue of Aksiyon magazine confiscated during the house search in Yıldız’s residence. The magazine, similar to many other media outlets, was shut down by a statutory decree issued by the State of Emergency rule declared following the military coup attempt on 15 July 2016.

The indictment asserted that Yıldız “worked as the executive director at Aktif Haber website, which engaged in activities to alter perception on behalf of the organisation, and announced to the public discourses of the organisation’s black propaganda account on the website”.

The indictment charged Yıldız with “membership of an armed terrorist organisation” in line with Article 314/2 of the Turkish Penal Code. The prosecution demanded that Yıldız be sentenced to imprisonment of between five years and 10 years. It was also demanded that Yıldız “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 Yetkin Yıldız, the executive editor of the access-restricted Aktif Haber internet news website, commenced with the first hearing at the 25th High Criminal Court of Istanbul on 27-31 March 2017. Yıldız had been in prison for approximately six months when he first stood trial.

Attorney Ali Deniz Ceylan stated that the president of the court for the trial had detained Yetkin Yıldız along with Atilla Taş, Murat Aksoy and Mutlu Çölgeçen when he served as a 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 Yıldız, 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 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 Yetkin Yıldız, whose release the prosecutor for the hearing had demanded and the court ruled accordingly. The new investigation charged Yıldız 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 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 Yetkin Yıldız, 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 allegations against Yıldız started on page 245 of the second indictment. Similar to the first indictment, it was asserted that Aktif Haber internet website where Yıldız had worked at “were set up to alter public perceptions and engage in black propaganda”. The indictment included Yıldız’s Bank Asya account activities. In addition, it was stated that Yıldız’s wife E.Y. had a joint account at the said bank.

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

The indictment asserted that Yıldız “had been in communication with 19 people who were remanded or being tried on allegations of being affiliated with FETO”. The indictment stated that Ahmet Memiş, who was being tried in the same case, was also among the list of people Yıldız had communicated with.

It was asserted that the 13 defendants including Yıldız “were part of the media structure of FETO/PDY armed terrorist organisation”. The indictment asserted that Yıldız and other defendants committed the crime of “attempting to destroy the order stipulated by the Constitution” and “attempting to destroy the government of the Republic of Turkey or to prevent it from fulfilling its responsibilities” due to “taking part in the organisation’s activities to alter perceptions”.

The indictment charged Yıldız 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 Yıldız 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.

Yıldız made his defensive statement on the second day of the hearing. Yıldız stated that the second indictment containing the charge of “attempting a coup” was no different from the first indictment, which had charged him with “membership of an armed organisation”. Yıldız stated the following: “ I am simultaneously being tried over membership of an organisation and over the crime of attempting a coup over the same evidence.”

The court ordered the trial to continue by merging the two indictments at the end of the hearing.

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 Yetkin Yıldız 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 Yıldız 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.

The final hearing of the trial took place on 7-8 March 2018. Yıldız stated the following in his defensive statement at this hearing:

“I have always worked and tried to earn a livelihood for myself and for my family. I have been tried over this case without remand for over a year and no evidence has yet been cited which would require me to be remanded or sentenced. The panel of judges that ruled for my initial release was discharged from duty. They have been reinstated now.”
“While no new evidence was found after my release, the prosecution demands to remand and sentence me on accusations of membership of an organisation.”
“Writers such as Taha Akyol and Ahmet Hakan wrote about the allegations made by Fuat Avni in their columns. I do not question why those people are not here today. I question why I am being tried on altering perceptions. How does working at a company that operates with permission from the state and within the state’s laws constitute an organisational crime?”

Yıldız’s attorney Atıl Uğur stated the following: “If [the defendant] had committed to the organisation, the prosecution would find evidence regarding it. Aktif Haber website is being presented as ‘indisputably committed to the organisation’. Is there a court verdict that we do not know of? If my client’s job applications to mainstream media outlets had been accepted, he would not be here today. We believe that a verdict which is appropriate to the law will be delivered so people like Yıldız, who want to freely work in their own country, will not give up hope.”

Following the defensive statements, the defendants were asked about their final say. The ruling was then delivered.

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

Yıldız 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, Yıldız 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 Yıldız should continue to be held in remand following the ruling.

The Appeals Process

The journalist Yetkin Yıldız’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

Yetkin Yıldız’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 Yetkin Yıldız 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 journalist were not adequate to establish them as members of the organisation”. The ruling stated that Yıldız should have been prosecuted on the charges of “aiding the armed terrorist organisation” instead of “membership of an armed terrorist organisation”.

The Constitutional Court Process

In his applications dated 5 February 2018 and 24 April 2018, Yıldız asserted that “the right to freedom and security” had been violated due to having been remanded two times. The Constitutional Court delivered its ruling on 23 June 2020. The court ruled that “the right to freedom and security had been violated” due to Yıldız having been remanded for the second time after having been released. The court ruled that Yıldız be paid TRY 25,000 in compensation.

"Media Structure" Trial (Reasoned Judgement)

"Media Structure" Trial (The Constitutional Court's Judgement)

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

"Media Structure" Trial (Indictment)

"Media Structure" Trial (Indictment)

Contact: pressinarrest@gmail.com

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