Müyesser Yıldız, the news manager of Odatv’s Ankara bureau, was prosecuted several times for her journalism activities.
Yıldız, arrested in March 2011 with the allegation of “being a member of the Ergenekon terrorist organization” within the scope of the "Odatv investigation,” was released in June 2012 after 14 months of imprisonment and acquitted along with the other defendants in the trial in 2017.
Yıldız was sued by the Minister of National Defense Hulusi Akar for the news article titled “Darbe Davalarının En Kritik Gizli Tanığı: ‘Hulusi Akar Cemaat Mensubudur, Kripto FETÖ’cüdür” (“The Most Critical Secret Witness of the Coup Trials: Hulusi Akar is a Congregation Member, Crypto FETOist”) published on Odatv on 27 April 2018 and asked to pay compensation.
Akar applied to the court with the request of blocking access to the news claimed that "slanderous words were used against him and his rights were violated" in Yıldız’s news article in which she reported the secret witness “Abdullah”s statement in the trial of the FETÖ case of the Army Aviation Command on 15 July. The Ankara 5th Criminal Court of Peace decided to block access to the news subject to the accusation in April 2018.
Yıldız continued to report the anonymous witness’ testimony with different aspects on the following dates. Upon this, Akar filed a lawsuit for 250 thousand TL compensation with the allegation that Yıldız "insulted" him. The complaint petition claimed that "last year, more than 100 news about Akar had been published in Odatv, and the unrealistic statements were targeted Akar directly." Akar also filed a complaint against Yıldız for a criminal case.
On the other hand, Yıldız filed a complaint against Hulusi Akar and demanded 5 liras for moral compensation.
The lawsuit filed upon Akar's complaint started on 7 February 2019 in the Ankara 7th Civil Court of First Instance. The file was merged with Yıldız's compensation lawsuit against Akar.
The court announced its verdict at the sixth hearing on 10 September 2020. While rejecting Yıldız's claim for compensation, the court accepted Akar's request and sentenced Yıldız to pay 20 thousand TL in non-pecuniary damages. The court decided to add the interest to be charged as of 27 April 2018, the publication date of the news, to the compensation amount. The court also ruled that "the violation of Akar's rights should be condemned and the summary of the sentence published in the newspaper with the highest circulation" based on the Code of Obligations. It was decided to pay the cost of the publication by Yıldız.
Following Akar's criminal complaint, the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor's Office prepared an indictment against Yıldız on the charge of "slander" and issued it to the Istanbul 57th Criminal Court of First Instance. The file was sent to Ankara due to Yıldız's residence and accepted by the Ankara 35th Criminal Court of First Instance.
The first hearing of the case was held on 23 May 2019.
In the second hearing, which was held on 24 October 2019, the court stated that the charge against Yıldız could change as "the insulting a public official" and gave Yıldız time to make her defense in terms of this accusation.
In the third hearing on 5 March 202, the court announced its verdict. It stated that the crime of "slander" did not occur, but that "there is no balance between the essence of the event and the way the news was given, and the piece has a nature of damaging the honor, dignity, and dignity." Stating that the crime of "insulting a public official" was occurred, the panel fined Yıldız to 7 thousand 80 TL- 20 TL per day. The announcement of the verdict adjourned.
On 8 June 2020, Yıldız was detained along with Tele1 TV Ankara Representative İsmail Dükel and a soldier named E.B., as part of an investigation conducted by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor's Office of Terrorist Crimes Investigation Bureau for "military espionage."
It was alleged that there were talks about the military operations of the TSK in Syria, and the military units’ activities in Libya were detected in the phone records between E. B., Yıldız, and Dükel. Yıldız and Dükel were accused of "obtaining the information that should be kept confidential in terms of the state's security or domestic or foreign political benefits, for political and military espionage" under Article 328 Turkish Penal Code, and a confidentiality order was issued to the file. Yıldız and Dükel's lawyers were not informed on the grounds of "confidentiality.” However, many details of the investigation were published on the pro-government daily Sabah newspaper’s website on 11 June 2020. It was claimed that Yıldız had "secretly met with a very important officer and did not write the information she received" in her column.
After three days under custody, the prosecutor’s office referred Yıldız to the court and demand her imprisonment. In her defense at the Ankara 3rd Criminal Court of Peace, Yıldız stated there is no connection between the columns subject to the investigation and her talks with E.B. Yıldız noted that all of the information in her columns was from open sources and that she also wrote her references. After her interrogation was completed, the Ankara 3rd Criminal Court of Peace decided to jail Yıldız and sent her to the Sincan Women's Closed Prison.
The indictment against Yıldız was completed on 23 September 2020. In the 180-page indictment, Yıldız was charged with "successively disclosing information that should be kept confidential for the security and political benefits of the state." The Ankara 26th High Criminal Court accepted the indictment.
Released at first hearing
The first hearing of the trial was held on 9 November 2020, in which Yıldız attended via SEGBİS from the prison where she was detained.
The prosecutor demanded that a criminal complaint be filed against Yıldız on the charge of "providing the documents that should be kept confidential" and continuation of Yıldız’s imprisonment under Article 327 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK). Regarding the defendants, the court decided to request an assessment on the accusation of "providing confidential information regarding the state's security" according to Article 327 of the TCK and released Yıldız with a travel ban.
The second hearing was held on 6 January 2021. The presiding judge said that between the hearings, the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor's Office filed a new indictment against all three defendants on the charge of "procuring documents regarding the security of the state” and the court decided to merge the new indictment with the ongoing case on 14 December 2020.
The third hearing of the trial was held on 5 February 2021. The prosecutor submitted their final opinion during the hearing. Arguing that Dükel and Yıldız had “crossed the boundaries of journalism and disclosed confidential information,” the prosecutor asked the court to convict Yıldız, Dükel and Baran for “systematically obtaining and disclosing information that must be kept confidential for reasons relating to the security or the interests of the state” under articles 327 and 329 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK).
Sentenced under different charge
The fourth hearing of the trial was held on 8 March 2021. Issuing its judgment after hearing the final defense statements, the court sentenced Yıldız to a combined prison sentence of 3 years, 7 months and 10 days for "obtaining restricted information" under Article 334 of Turkish Penal Code (TCK) and "disclosing restricted information" under Article 336. Tele1 TV Ankara representative İsmail Dükel was sentenced to 1 year and 15 days for "obtaining restricted information."
Constitutional Court application
Yıldız's lawyers filed an application with the Constitutional Court in July 2020. In the application, it was stated that Yıldız’s imprisonment was unlawful, contradicts with the Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights, and violates "the right to freedom and security, the freedom of expression and the freedom of the press." The application is still pending before the Court.