Prosecutor submits final opinion in Gezi Park trial; Office of General Prosecutor asks Supreme Court of Appeals to uphold convictions in Altans case, quash convictions in Cumhuriyet trial
Court upholds Ahmet Altan’s acquittal in “insult” case
A regional court of appeals has upheld Ahmet Altan’s acquittal of “insulting the president” in a trial where he was accused over his remarks in an interview published in 2015 in the news portal Grihat.
Istanbul’s 21st Criminal Court of First Instance had acquitted Altan at the seventh and final hearing of his trial on 26 April 2018. President Erdoğan’s lawyers had appealed against the verdict. The 3rd Criminal Chamber of the Istanbul Regional Court of Justice rejected the appeal on 26 December 2019, finalizing the verdict.
A report about the appellate court’s ruling can be accessed here.
Journalist Hüseyin Aykol’s passport seized at airport
Journalist Hüseyin Aykol’s passport was seized at the Istanbul Airport, where he was about to board a flight to Brussels. Aykol was told during passport control that the registry office had issued an order on 3 October 2019 for Aykol’s passport to be seized.
Aykol, a former co-editor-in-chief of the shuttered Özgür Gündem newspaper, remained in prison for 107 days in 2019 as part of the “Özgür Gündem solidarity trial” before being released in October pending the conclusion of the appeal process. Aykol is a defendant in a total of 63 cases, some of which are currently pending appeal before regional courts of appeal or the Supreme Court of Appeals. The accusations in all 63 cases stem from Aykol’s journalistic activities.
Aggravated life imprisonment sought for 3 defendants in “Gezi Park trial”
The prosecutor in Gezi Park trial issued his final opinion of the case on 6 February 2020, seeking convictions for nine of the 16 defendants in the case.
The prosecution asked the 30th High Criminal Court of Istanbul to convict Osman Kavala, the only jailed defendant in the case, and his co-defendants Yiğit Aksakoğlu and Mücella Yapıcı of “attempting to overthrow the government,” which is punishable by aggravated life imprisonment. The prosecutor sought up to 20 years in prison for Çiğdem Mater, Hakan Altınay, Mine Özerden, Can Atalay, Tayfun Kahraman and Yiğit Ali Ekmekçi for “assisting their co-defendants in the commission of the alleged offense.”
A report about the final opinion can be accessed here.
RedHack trial adjourned until June
The “RedHack Trial,” where six journalists stand accused of “disseminating propaganda for a terrorist organization,” “hindrance or destruction of a data processing system,” “aiding a terrorist organization without being its member” and “terrorist group membership” for their coverage of the emails of Minister Berat Albayrak leaked by the hacker group RedHack, resumed on 6 February 2020 at the 29th High Criminal Court of Istanbul.
Issuing an interim ruling at the end of the hearing, the court ruled to lift the international travel bans of defendants Derya Okatan and Eray Sargın but ordered the continuation of the judicial control measures imposed on the remaining four defendants. The court adjourned the trial until 25 June 2020.
A report about the hearing, monitored by P24, can be accessed here.
Activist Temel Demirer’s trial adjourned until May
Writer and activist Temel Demirer appeared in court on 6 February 2020 for the fourth hearing of his trial on the charge of “praising crime or a criminal.” Demirer is accused over a 2017 speech he made during a gathering in Istanbul’s Kadıköy to commemorate the victims of a 2015 bomb attack in the southeastern town of Suruç.
The Anadolu 33rd Criminal Court of First Instance adjourned the trial until 5 May 2020.
Trial of Özgür Gündem editors and Kurdish politician adjourned until June
A trial where journalists Hüseyin Aykol, Zana Kaya and İnan Kızılkaya — former co-editors-in-chief and managing editor of the shuttered daily Özgür Gündem — and former Kurdish politician Hatip Dicle stand accused for the news stories and articles published in the shuttered newspaper, resumed on 6 February 2020 at the 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance of Istanbul.
The four defendants are accused of “publicly degrading the government, the judiciary or the police force” and “publicly degrading the Turkish nation, the Turkish Republic and the Parliament” under Article 301 of the Turkish Criminal Code.
This was the 15th hearing in the case. In its interim ruling at the end of the hearing, the court ruled to wait for the execution of the arrest warrant against Hatip Dicle and adjourned the trial until 2 June 2020.
Can Dündar and İnan Kızılkaya’s trial adjourned
The 13th hearing in a trial where journalists Can Dündar and İnan Kızılkaya stand accused of “insulting a public official” took place on 6 February 2020 at Istanbul’s 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance.
The accusation stems from a report titled “Saray rejiminin en kullanışlı hakimi” (The regime’s most functional judge), published in the shuttered newspaper Özgür Gündem on 22 June 2016, when Dündar symbolically assumed the role of editor-in-chief for the newspaper for a day.
Ruling to wait for the response to a memo sent to German judicial authorities for Dündar’s statement to be taken abroad, the court adjourned the trial until 2 June 2020.
Jin News reporter Hikmet Tunç faces investigation
Hikmet Tunç, a Van-based reporter for Jin News, is facing a criminal investigation over a news report she penned on 13 May 2019. The Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office of Van launched the investigation after the trustee appointed to the local Muradiye Municipality filed a complaint against Tunç on the allegation of “libel.”
Journalist Durket Süren’s trial adjourned until May
The third hearing in the trial of journalist Durket Süren on the charges of “aiding a terrorist group” and “terrorism propaganda” took place on 5 February 2020 at the 11th High Criminal Court of Diyarbakır.
Ruling to wait for the completion of the digital and criminal forensics reports and a report from the Financial Crimes Investigation Board (MASAK) about Süren, the court adjourned the trial until 18 May 2020.
Journalist Ferhat Çelik taken into custody twice in a day
Mezopotamya news agency (MA) Responsible Editor Ferhat Çelik was taken into custody on 5 February 2020 as he was leaving the Silivri Prison in Istanbul, where he was visiting fellow MA reporter Sadık Topaloğlu.
Çelik was arrested based on an arrest warrant issued as part of an investigation about a report dispatched by the news agency. Çelik was freed after giving his statement to the Mardin Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office via the judicial video-conferencing system SEGBİS.
Later that day, Çelik was arrested once again during evening hours by the police who came to his apartment, saying there was an arrest warrant against the journalist as part of an ongoing investigation. Çelik was released when it became clear at the police station that he had already given his statement as part of the investigation earlier that day.
Judicial fine given to journalist Adnan Bilen upheld by regional court
A regional court of appeals has upheld a judicial fine given to Mezopotamya news agency reporter Adnan Bilen on the charge of “insulting the president.” The appellate court said the sentence Bilen was given by the trial court was appropriate.
On 8 November 2019, the 4th Criminal Court of First Instance of Van had sentenced Bilen to 11 months 20 days in prison for using the expression “disgraceful” in a social media post and commuted the sentence to a fine worth TL 7,000.
Prosecutor seeks conviction for filmmaker Kazım Öz
Filmmaker Kazım Öz appeared before the 2nd High Criminal Court of Tunceli on 4 February 2020 for the second hearing of his trial on the charge of “membership of a terrorist group.”
Presenting their final opinion of the case during the hearing, the prosecution asked the court to convict Öz as charged. His lawyers asked the court to reject the final opinion on the grounds that the evidence in the case file was still not complete. The court rejected the objection and adjourned the trial until 28 April.
Hakkı Boltan appears in court for insult case
Hakkı Boltan, the spokesperson of the Free Journalists Initiative (ÖGİ), appeared before Diyarbakır’s 12th Criminal Court of First Instance on 4 February 2020 for the second hearing of his trial on charges of “insulting the president” and “insulting a public official.”
The court ruled to grant Boltan exemption from attending courtroom hearings and adjourned the trial until 9 April 2020.
General Prosecutor of Supreme Court asks court to uphold convictions in Altans case
The Office of the General Prosecutor of the Supreme Court of Appeals issued their opinion in the Altans trial, asking the Supreme Court of Appeals to uphold the verdicts rendered in the retrial of the case on 4 November 2019.
The 26th High Criminal Court of Istanbul had acquitted Mehmet Altan but convicted his co-defendants Ahmet Altan and Nazlı Ilıcak of “aiding a terrorist group without being its member” and Fevzi Yazıcı, Şükrü Tuğrul Özşengül and Yakup Şimşek of “membership of a terrorist group.”
The General Prosecutor’s opinion, dated 29 January 2020, asked the 16th Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Appeals to reject the appeals by the lawyers representing Ilıcak and Ahmet Altan. The General Prosecutor also wrote that the Presidency and the Parliament’s appeals against Mehmet Altan’s acquittal should be rejected for lack of incriminating evidence against Mehmet Altan.
A report about the judicial opinion can be accessed here.
Prosecutor asks Supreme Court to quash convictions in Cumhuriyet trial
The Office of the General Prosecutor of the Supreme Court of Appeals issued their judicial opinion concerning the Cumhuriyet trial on 28 January 2020. Just like in their previous judicial opinion, the General Prosecutor asked the 16th Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Appeals to overturn the convictions rendered in the retrial of the case.
The judicial opinion requested that the convictions of all defendants except Ahmet Şık be quashed and for Şık to be charged with “terrorism propaganda,”“publishing statements legitimatizing the violent acts of terrorist groups” and “insulting the Turkish nation, the state of the Turkish Republic and the organs and institutions of the state” instead of the initial charge of “aiding an armed terrorist organization.”
A report about the General Prosecutor’s opinion can be accessed here.
Top court: Mehmet Altan’s extended detention violated his rights
The Constitutional Court ruled that writer and academic Mehmet Altan’s rights were violated when he was kept in pre-trial detention for another six months following the top court’s January 2018 ruling, which held that his detention on remand violated his rights to liberty and security and freedom of expression.
In its judgment dated 9 January 2020, the First Section of the Constitutional Court ruled that Mehmet Altan be paid TL 30,000 in compensation.
A report about the judgment can be accessed here.
Sabah journalist Tülay Canbolat jailed pending trial
Tülay Canbolat, an Ankara-based reporter for the pro-government Sabah daily, was jailed pending trial by a criminal judgeship in Ankara.
Canbolat was taken into custody late January as part of an investigation where she is accused of being a Bylock user. Bylock is an encrypted messaging app purported to be used exclusively by the members of the Fethullah Gülen network, which the government says was behind the failed coup of 15 July 2016.
Canbolat was jailed pending trial on the charge of “membership of a terrorist group.”
List of journalists and media workers in prison
Following Sabah reporter Tülay Canbolat’s arrest, as of 7 February 2020, at least 97 journalists and media workers are in prison in Turkey, either in pre-trial detention or serving a sentence.
The full list can be accessed here.