Journalists and academics bear the brunt of the massive crackdown on freedom of expression in Turkey. Scores of them are currently subject to criminal investigations or behind bars. This website is dedicated to tracking the legal process against them.
Oğuz Usluer, former news coordinator of Habertürk TV, worked as a news manager and coordinator at various TV stations such as Kanal D, Show TV, Kanaltürk and Atv before. Usluer was detained in Istanbul on 11 December 2016 as part of an investigation into the so-called media organization of the "Fethullahist Terrorist Organization" (FETÖ). After spending more than two weeks in custody, Usluer was brought to the courthouse on 28 December 2016. Referred to court with a request for imprisonment after being questioned by the public prosecutor, Usluer was jailed pending trial on the charge of "membership in an armed terrorist organization." He was sent to the Silivri Prison.
The indictment against Usluer was issued on 16 January 2017. The 196-page indictment called for a prison sentence of up to 15 years for 29 people, including Usluer, 27 of whom were journalists, on the charge of “membership in an armed terrorist organization” under Article 314/2 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK).
The indictment, which spared half a page on the allegations against Usluer, quoted two tweets shared by the anonymous Twitter account "fuatavni," claiming it showed that Usluer was "by fuatavni, the organization’s smear campaign account." The indictment, citing witness statements against Usluer, claimed that the journalist "conducted operations aimed at manipulating public opinion in line with the objectives of FETÖ” with other former Habertürk employees. The indictment also alleged that Usluer was a user of the encrypted messaging app "ByLock," which is purported to be used exclusively by the members of the Fethullah Gülen network.
The trial of Usluer and 28 other defendants began on 27 March 2017 at the Istanbul 25th High Criminal Court. On the fifth day of the hearing, on 31 March 2017, the prosecutor requested the release of 13 defendants, including Usluer, pending trial. In its interim ruling, the court ruled to release eight more defendants in addition to the 13 whose release were requested by the prosecutor. However, the prosecutor objected against the court’s decision to release the defendants and they were rearrested before being able to leave the prison.
Rearrest on "coup" charges
Usluer and 12 other journalists spent two weeks in custody before being sent to prison again by the Istanbul 12th Criminal Judgeship of Peace, which jailed them on charges of "attempting to overthrow the constitutional order" and "attempting to overthrow the Government of the Republic of Turkey" as part of a new investigation.
In the meantime, the judges of the 25th High Criminal Court and the prosecutor were temporarily suspended by the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK).
The second hearing of Usluer’s trial on charge of "membership in a terrorist organization" was held on 27 April 2017. The third hearing of the trial was held on 6 July 2017. The court panel, which had changed for the third time since the beginning of the proceedings, ruled for the continuation of the detention of all jailed defendants.
The first hearing of the "coup" trial agianst Usluer and 12 other journalists took place on 16-17 August 2017 at the Istanbul 25th High Criminal Court. At the end of the hearing, the court ruled for the continuation of Usluer's pre-trial detention. The court decided to merge the "coup" case with the "FETÖ media trial."
At the seventh hearing of the case, held on 6 February 2018, the prosecutor submitted their final opinion, asking the court to drop the "coup" charges against Usluer but to sentence him for "membership in a terrorist organization."
The final hearing of the trial took place on 7 and 8 March 2018. Issuing its judgment, the Istanbul 25th High Criminal Court sentenced Usluer to 7 years and 6 months in prison for "membership in an armed terrorist organization." Usluer was acquitted of the "coup" charges.
Supreme Court of Appeals judgment
The 2nd Criminal Chamber of the Istanbul Regional Court of Justice, which reviewed the case upon an appeal application, ruled that there were “no violations with respect to either the procedural grounds or the merits” in the decision of the local court and upheld the conviction of Usluer on 22 October 2018.
On 16 March 2020, the 16th Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Appeals upheld the convictions of Usluer and 16 other journalists in the case, finalizing Usluer’s 7.5-year sentence.
The full text of the Supreme Court of Appeals judgment (in Turkish) can be found here
Usluer was released from the Silivri Prison in Istanbul on 2 September 2021 upon completing the 7.5-year sentence he was given in 2018.
Click here to read Oğuz Usluer’s answers to our questionnaire about prison conditions.