Journalists and academics bear the brunt of the massive crackdown on freedom of expression in Turkey. Scores of them are currently subject to criminal investigations or behind bars. This website is dedicated to tracking the legal process against them.
Aytekin Gezici, who worked as a reporter for numerous local and nationwide media outlets throughout his journalism career, including the now closed down Zaman daily, was arrested in the southern Adana province on July 23, 2016. Gezici was arrested along with six other journalists as part of an investigation in the aftermath of the July 15 coup attempt. Gezici was jailed pending trial two days later, on July 25, 2016.
A total of 11 people in Adana, among them owners of several local TV stations and newspapers, were detained as part of the same investigation. Among them, Gezici and one other journalist were jailed while the remaining nine were released pending trial under various judicial control measures.
At the end of the investigation, an indictment was issued against 13 individuals that also included Gezici. The indictment accused all 13 suspects of “membership in the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization,” seeking up to 15 years imprisonment for each. The 11th High Criminal Court of Adana accepted the indictment and the trial got underway on March 10, 2017.
During the second hearing of the case on April 7, 2017, Gezici addressed the court from the Hatay Prison via the videoconferencing system SEGBİS. Gezici rejected the accusations.
During the third hearing of the trial on June 9, 2017, Gezici again addressed the court via SEGBİS. Gezici told the court that he was being accused based on false testimony by a witness. Gezici said the witness was a member of a terrorist group. He also requested for his release.
The court ruled for the continuation of Gezici’s detention and adjourned the trial until July 12, 2017.
The prosecutor submitted his final opinion of the case during that hearing, requesting that seven of the defendants -- Aytekin Gezici, Abdullah Özyurt, Yüksel Evsen, Rıfat Söylemez, Abdurrahim Haklıkul, Mustafa Naim Yalçınel and Osman Palamut -- are convicted of “terrorist group membership” and the remaining four, Hakan Bülent Yardımcı, Taner Talaş, Ali Bekmezci ve Salim Büyükkaya, are acquitted.
The court ruled for the continuation of detention of Gezici and Özyurt and adjourned the case until September.
Gezici addressed the court once again via the videoconferencing system SEGBİS during the fifth hearing of the case in September, telling the panel that he had been in detention for 14 months and asked for his release and his acquittal.
The trial was adjourned further when the new prosecutor appointed to the case reqıested for additional time to prepare his final opinion of the case. The court ordered the case file to be sent to the newly appointed prosecutor and adjourned the trial. The court also ruled for Özyurt to be released pending the conclusion of the trial, placing him under house arrest.
The new prosecutor submitted his final opinion of the case during the next hearing of the case in October 2017, requesting between nine and 15 years of imprisonment for the defendants.
Giving his defense statement before the court during that hearing, Gezici said the trial was based on false accusations by a witness. Other defendants also rejected the accusations. The court ruled for the continuation of Gezici’s detention and adjourned the trial for final defense statements to be prepared.
At the final hearing of the case, held on February 16, 2018, the 11th High Criminal Court of Adana convicted four defendants including Gezici of “membership in a terrorist organization” and handed down prison sentences between 7.5 and 9 years. Gezici was sentenced to 9 years in prison.
Gezici has been in the Hatay Prison as part of this case for almost two years.According to his relatives, Gezici has been in a single-person cell since February.