Lawyer Çalıkuşu files for journalist Yıldız’s release based on the Supreme Court ruling that overturned some of the convictions in the case publicly known as the “FETÖ media trial”
The 16th Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Appeals has upheld the convictions of 17 journalists and overturned the convictions of six of their co-defendants in the case publicly known as the “FETÖ media trial,” where 25 of the 26 defendants were convicted of terrorism-related charges. The trial court had sentenced 23 journalists on the charge of “membership of a terrorist organization” in 2018.
The Supreme Court’s verdict, which has yet to be uploaded on the National Judiciary Informatics System (UYAP), was made public by the pro-government daily Yeni Şafak on 12 May.
According to the Yeni Şafak report, the Supreme Court of Appeals overturned the convictions of journalists Ahmet Memiş, Cemal Azmi Kalyoncu, Gökçe Fırat Çulhaoğlu, Ünal Tanık, Yakup Çetin and Yetkin Yıldız on the charge of “membership of a terrorist group,” saying that there had been an error in the classification of the offense and that the six journalists should have been charged with “aiding a terrorist organization without being its member.”
Yıldız, the former editor-in-chief of the news portal Aktif Haber, has been jailed in the Silivri Prison since July 2016 as part of the case. He was sentenced to 7 years and 6 months in prison by the trial court on 8 March 2018.
Citing the Supreme Court ruling dated 16 March 2020, Yıldız’s lawyer Figen Albuga Çalıkuşu filed for his release. In her petition, filed with the 25th High Criminal Court of Istanbul, Çalıkuşu said that her client should be immediately released taking into consideration the time he has spent in detention and the grounds for overturning his conviction cited in the Supreme Court of Appeals ruling.
Çalıkuşu asserted in her petition that Yıldız has already served a large portion of his sentence, and that taking into consideration the Supreme Court’s reasoning, her client will likely be acquitted in the retrial, where he will be charged with “aiding a terrorist organization.”
Çalıkuşu also pointed out in her petition that the Supreme Court of Appeals ruling to be leaked to a pro-government newspaper before being uploaded on the judiciary informatics network was alarming.
“It is unacceptable that my client and his co-defendants are still waiting for the judiciary to proceed with the case file [based on the Supreme Court’s ruling] amid the life threatening Covid-19 outbreak, which has been spreading in the Silivri Prison. My client and his co-defendants, who should be eligible for release by now after having served the sentences given by the trial court, are being arbitrarily kept behind bars. The case file needs to proceed without further delay,” Çalıkuşu said.
Noting that her client is accused because of his journalistic acts, Çalıkuşu said the case file included no lawful and substantial evidence proving her client’s ties with a terrorist group. “According to the Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights, thought cannot be punished,” Çalıkuşu added.