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.
Harun Çümen, who worked as a finance desk reporter, editor and responsible managing editor for 21 years in the shuttered Zaman newspaper, was arrested on 4 March 2018, during a road check by police in the Keşan district of Edirne, about two years after the closure of the newspaper.
On 7 March 2018, Çümen was jailed pending trial on the charge of "membership in an armed terrorist organization" and sent to the Balıkesir Kepsut Closed Prison.
In the indictment against him, issued on 1 October 2018, Çümen was charged with "membership in an armed terrorist organization" under TCK 314/2 and TMK 5.
The indictment was accepted by the Istanbul 32nd High Criminal Court, which held the first hearing in the case on 8 January 2019.
Çümen addressed the court from prison via SEGBİS. Denying all allegations against him, Çümen told the court that he worked as a reporter and editor for Zaman newspaper for 21 years, then was made editor-in-chief and "thrown into the fire." "My job was just reporting. I'm a member of the Turkish Journalists Association (TGC). The lack of a ByLock claim against me proves that I am not a member of the FETÖ," he asserted.
Çümen also denied allegations that he was preparing to flee the country. Explaining that his brother-in-law lived in a village 40km from the Keşan district and that therefore visited the area frequently, Çümen said he started trading agricultural products to make a living because he could no longer work as a journalist and was in the district for olive oil sales at the time of his arrest.
7.5 year sentence
The fourth hearing in Çümen’s trial was held on 18 July 2019. The court sentenced Çümen to 7 years and 6 months for “membership of a terrorist organization" and ordered the continuation of his detention.
Çümen is still imprisoned in the Balıkesir L Type Closed Prison and his case is oending review by the Supreme Court of Appeals.
During his time as the responsible editor of Zaman, Çümen also faced dozens of lawsuits over articles published in the newspaper. He has been given more than two years in prison in those cases combined.