Uludağ is charged with “making those involved in combatting terrorism a target” for criticising the former Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor
The first hearing of journalist Alican Uludağ’s trial on the charge of “making those involved in combatting terrorism a target” (TMK 6/1) over a Twitter post in which he criticized former Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor Yüksel Kocaman was held on 2 December 2020 at the Ankara 18th High Criminal Court.
P24 monitored the hearing where journalist Uludağ and his lawyer Semir Ecer were present.
In his social media post subject to accusation, Uludağ criticized former Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor's visit to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the Presidential Palace after his wedding ceremony. In the second tweet of the thread, Uludağ stated that jailed politician Selahattin Demirtaş, who had been released in accordance with a European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) judgment, could not get out of prison after the chief prosecutor had an arrest warrant issued as part of a new investigation he launched against Demirtaş.
In his defense statement, Uludağ said that during his 12-year professional career, he worked for the Cumhuriyet newspaper until he recently transferred to Olay TV in September.
Uludağ stated that the investigation leading to the case was not impartial. Asserting that the prosecutor was both a complainant and the prosecution in the case, Uludağ said: "It is not possible for the prosecution to make an objective assessment here."
Uludağ explained that the Twitter post for which he is accused comprised two tweets but only the second one was included in the indictment. Uludağ said the first tweet should also be taken into account. In that tweet Uludağ commented that the prosecutor and his wife visiting the president, the head of the administration, undermined judicial independence.
Saying that it is his duty to defend and question the independence of the judiciary as a journalist, Uludağ added that he did not mention the prosecutor’s name but referred to him as the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor in his posts.
Uludağ also presented to court his previous news reports on judicial independence and the rule of law regarding the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor's Office and said the complainant took these reports personally and transferred Uludağ’s pregnant wife, who was then working at the Dışkapı Courthouse, to the Balgat Courthouse.
Uludağ also added that in the three-page indictment, one-and-a-half pages were about the PKK, which is irrelevant to him.
Reminding the court that Demirtaş was a politician who received more than 6 million votes and despite being on trial, he has not been convicted and that when the ECtHR ruled that Demirtaş’s arrest was politically motivated, the chief prosecutor issued a second arrest warrant for Demirtaş the same day, Uludağ said he questioned the chief prosecutor's posing with the President in terms of judicial independence.
Asserting that he didn’t target anyone in his Twitter posts, Uludağ also told the court that referring to the complainant as “secret victim” in the indictment was against the law. Uludağ asked the court to lift the judicial control measures imposed on him and requested to be acquitted.
Following Uludağ, his lawyer Semih Ecer took the floor and said that his client’s social media post did not involve praise for violence or hate speech as stipulated in the Anti-Terror Law, thus the tweet cannot be considered within the frame of combatting terrorism.
Addressing the court next, the complainant’s lawyer Bertan Yavuz Erez claimed that Uludağ made his client a target by saying the second arrest warrant for Demirtaş was issued by the chief prosecutor.
In his final opinion, the prosecutor demanded Uludağ’s conviction. While Uludağ’s attorney requested time to prepare a defense statement against the final opinion, Alican Uludağ stated that the prosecutor reading out a final opinion from a flash drive without taking into account his defense statement was against the law and a violation of his right to a fair trial.
Announcing its interim ruling, the court lifted the signature obligation for Uludağ but ruled for the continuation of his travel ban and adjourned the trial until 3 February 2021.