Uludağ was on trial for criticizing former Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor's visit to President Erdoğan in a social media post
CANAN COŞKUN, ANKARA
Journalist Alican Uludağ was given a 10-month prison sentence on 3 February 2021 on the charge of “marking a state official involved in the fight against terrorism as a target” for criticizing former Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor Yüksel Kocaman and his wife’s visit to President Erdoğan last year at the Presidential Complex.
This was the second hearing in the trial, overseen by the Ankara 18th High Criminal Court. Uludağ, his lawyer Semih Ecer, and Bertan Yavuz Erez, the lawyer representing the former chief prosecutor, were in attendance. In addition to P24, CHP Eskişehir Deputy Utku Çakırözer was also among spectators in the courtroom.
Addressing the court for his defense statement, Uludağ said he did not “target” the prosecutor in his post. He said his posts were meant to draw attention to the fact that the judiciary should be impartial. “My post was entirely about how political dissidents in Turkey were being kept behind bars. I did not make any reference to any terrorist organization either,” Uludağ said, explaining that he exercised his right to criticism by drawing attention to facts. “To remind people of an investigation conducted by a prosecutor who I thought had lost his impartiality cannot be deemed as ‘marking him as a target.’ This would restrict freedom of expression,” Uludağ said.
After Uludağ, his lawyer addressed the court. Noting that Article 6/1 of the Anti-Terror Law (“disclosing or publishing the identities of state officials assigned in the fight against terrorism or marking them as targets”) was meant to protect law enforcement officials, Ecer said this provision did not apply to members of the judiciary. “What matters is the purpose of the law. Which terrorist organization targeted [the prosecutor] because of this tweet?” Ecer demanded.
Kocaman’s lawyer addressed the court next, demanding the panel to convict Uludağ as charged. Asked for his last word, Uludağ demanded to be acquitted.
Issuing their judgment after a half-hour recess, the panel sentenced Uludağ to 10 months in prison for “marking a state official involved in the fight against terrorism as a target.” The court suspended the sentence and lifted the international travel ban imposed on Uludağ.
Background of the case
In a Twitter post he shared on 20 September 2020, Uludağ criticized former Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor's visit to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at the Presidential Palace after his wedding ceremony. In the second tweet of the thread, Uludağ stated that jailed politician Selahattin Demirtaş could not get out of prison despite a release order based on the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) judgment because the chief prosecutor had an arrest warrant issued for Demirtaş as part of a new investigation he had launched.
Several days later, the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office launched an investigation against Uludağ because of his Twitter posts. Uludağ gave his statement to a prosecutor at the courthouse on 24 September. He was imposed a travel ban and a judicial control measure in the form of reporting to the nearest police station once every week. An indictment was issued against Uludağ on 30 September 2020, formally charging the journalist with “marking a state official involved in the fight against terrorism as a target” under Article 6/1 of the Anti-Terror Law (TMK).
The first hearing of Uludağ’s trial was held on 2 December 2020.