The second hearing of a trial in which 29 people, mostly journalists, face up to 15 years in jail on charges of “terrorist group membership” was held on April 27, Thursday at İstanbul’s Çağlayan Courthouse.
All three judges of the İstanbul 25th High Criminal Court and the prosecutor of the case were suspended after the court decided to release 21 of the 26 suspects under detention at the end of the first hearing held on March 27-31. All of the 21 suspects were rearrested before they left the prison compound late at night on March 31, as 13 suspects whose release was sought by the prosecutor were arrested as part of a new investigation – this time on coup charges – and eight others were detained upon a successful appeal from the prosecutor against their release. One of the 13 suspects who were arrested as part of the new coup investigation was released shortly after his arrest.
Only witnesses and a very small number of journalists were allowed into the courtroom, while families, other members of the media and observers were not let in.
The new judges of the case decided at the end of Thursday’s hearing that all of the suspects who are under detention will remain so. The court also agreed to request a medical examination of detained suspect Davut Aydın, who suffers from scoliosis, to decide whether he should be released on health grounds.
The next hearing of the case will be held on July 6.
The suspects are accused of operating as the “media arm” of the “Fetullahist Terrorist Organization/Parallel State Structure (FETÖ/PDY),” which the government accuses of orchestrating the July 15, 2016 coup attempt. They each face up to 15 years in prison on formal charges of “membership of a terrorist organization.”
Suspects in the case include former columnists and journalists of several media outlets such as shuttered Zaman, Bugün and Meydan newspapers, Habertürk TV and Rota Haber website. The diverse group includes journalist and columnist Murat Aksoy, ex-singer and columnist for Meydan Atilla Taş, Türk Solu journal columnist Gökçe Fırat Çulhaoğlu and former Zaman court reporter Hanım Büşra Erdal.Other suspects in the case are: Abdullah Kılıç, Ahmet Memiş, Bayram Kaya, Bünyamin Köseli, Cemal Azmi Kalyoncu, Cihan Acar, Cuma Ulus, Davut Aydın, Emre Soncan, Habib Güler, Halil İbrahim Balta, Hanım Büşra Erdal, Hüseyin Aydın, Mustafa Erkan Acar, Muhammet Said Kuloğlu, Mutlu Çölgeçen, Oğuz Usluer, Seyit Kılıç, Ufuk Şanlı, Ünal Tanık, Yakup Çetin, Yetkin Yıldız, Muhterem Tanık (never detained), Ali Akkuş (released pending trial), Said Sefa (arrest warrant) and Bülent Ceyhan (arrest warrant).