Former Cumhuriyet reporter Alican Uludağ has multiple court cases brought against him for his reports published in the newspaper. Two compensation cases have been rejected while in one case brought on the charge of “violating confidentiality of the investigation,” Uludağ was sentenced to 10 months in prison.
Case on coverage of release of US pastor
Uludağ and then Cumhuriyet reporter Duygu Güvenç were charged with “denigrating the judicial organs of the state” under Article 301 of the Turkish Criminal Code (TCK) for their reports on the release under house arrest of Pastor Andrew Craig Brunson, a US citizen, in July 2018 after public statements from the US President Donald Trump calling for his release.
Brunson was arrested and placed in pre-trial detention in December 2016 and was charged with “espionage” and “aiding a terrorist organization without being its member” on the basis of his alleged ties with the PKK and what authorities call the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ). In October 2018, Brunson’s house arrest was also ended and his travel ban was lifted, following which he left Turkey for the US.
Uludağ published two articles in Cumhuriyet newspaper on Brunson’s release questioning the role of US pressure in the release under house arrest of Brunson and political interference with judicial decisions.
The indictment, which charged Uludağ and Güvenç under Article 301 for the content of their reports on the release of Brunson, was completed on 1 October 2018. First court hearing was held on 20 December 2018 at the Istanbul 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance. Uludağ told the court that political developments corroborated his conclusions in his reports and denied his reports contained any insult against judicial organs of the state. He also presented a written defense statement.
Six more hearings were held as part of the trial between 1 October 2018 and 22 October 2020. At the seventh and final hearing on 22 October, the prosecutor presented his final opinion on the case, repeating his request for jail term against the two journalists under Article 301 of the TCK. The court, however, ruled for the acquittal of Uludağ and Güvenç, saying that the impugned acts did not constitute an offence under the Criminal Code.
The prosecutor took the acquittal decision to a regional court of appeal on 28 October 2020 on procedural and substantial grounds. The case is still pending before the regional court.