Former Zaman journalist Kabakcı sentenced to 6 years and 3 months for “membership of a terrorist group,” acquitted of “violating the confidentiality of an investigation”
CANSU PİŞKİN, ISTANBUL
Journalist Şirin Kabakcı, the former Konya bureau chief of the shuttered Zaman newspaper, appeared before the 35th High Criminal Court of Istanbul on 20 February 2020 for the ninth and final hearing of his trial on charges of “membership of a terrorist group,” “libel” and “breaching the confidentiality of an investigation.”
P24 monitored the hearing, where Kabakcı and his lawyer Cumali Aydemir were in attendance. Reiterating their final opinion, the prosecution asked the court to convict Kabakcı of “membership of a terrorist group” and acquit him of “breaching the confidentiality of an investigation.”
Kabakcı then addressed the court in response to the prosecutor’s final opinion, saying his employment with Zaman newspaper could not be held as incriminating evidence against him. Kabakcı explained that he had participated in a trip to Kenya, which is also held as evidence against him in the prosecutor’s final opinion, as a press member to report about a relief organization’s efforts in the African country.
Kabakcı also asserted that having participated in a demonstration in protest of Samanyolu TV executive Hidayet Karaca’s arrest was his constitutional right and could not be held as evidence against him. “This is against the principle of legality,” Kabakcı said.
He added: “Not all Zaman employees are members of [the Fethullah Gülen] community or organization. This automatic assumption is irrelevant in light of the diversity of all the individuals who used to be employed by the said newspaper.”
Kabakcı’s defense statement was cut short when the presiding judge interfered, saying: “People are waiting outside the courtroom for their respective hearings to begin; this is not an open-ended forum session.”
Kabakcı then wrapped up his statement, saying: “I am a journalist. I am neither a terrorist, nor a member of a terrorist organization. I am a law-abiding person. There is no concrete or abstract, substantial or insubstantial evidence to justify the accusations leveled by the prosecution. I demand to be acquitted in the name of the rule of law, democracy and justice.”
Kabakcı’s lawyer Aydemir addressed the court next, asserting once again that his client’s employment with Zaman could not be held as evidence to support the “terrorist group membership” accusation. Adding that his client was not involved in any kind of organizational crimes, Aydemir requested Kabakcı’s acquittal.
Asked for his last word before the verdict, Kabakcı said: “There is no incriminating evidence against me in the case file aside from journalistic activities. I request to be acquitted.”
Issuing its verdict at the end of the hearing, the court sentenced Kabakcı to 6 years and 3 months in prison for “membership of a terrorist group.” The court acquitted Kabakcı of “breaching the confidentiality of an investigation” charge and ruled to separate his file on the charge of “libel.”