Ufuk Şanlı, a business journalist for a number of media outlets including Zaman and Vatan dailies and a contributor to Al-Monitor, was arrested on 27 July 2016 as part of a major crackdown on journalists who worked at media companies allegedly connected with the Fethullah Gülen network, a religious congregation which the government accuses of maintaining a “parallel state structure” and an armed terrorist organization, “FETÖ/PDY.”
In the indictment against them, Şanlı and 28 others were formally charged with “membership of an armed terrorist organization,” carrying a prison term of up to 15 years.
The first hearing of their trial was held in late March 2017. At the end of the five-day hearing, the 25th High Criminal Court of Istanbul ruled to release 21 of the 26 defendants pending trial, while ruling to keep Şanlı and four other defendants behind bars.
The second hearing was held on 27 April 2017. All three judges on the panel, who ruled to release 21 defendants at the first hearing, and the prosecutor of the case were suspended and replaced by a new panel. The new panel decided at the end of the second hearing to keep all detained defendants behind bars.
At the end of the trial, on March 8, 2018, the court convicted 25 journalists standing trial in the case, including Şanlı, of terrorism-related charges. Şanlı and 11 other journalists were convicted of “membership of an armed terrorist organization” and sentenced to 7.5 years in prison. The court wote in its judgment that their “actions and intent required a higher sentence than the lower limit set by the law.” The court also ruled for the continuation of detention of the imprisoned defendants in the case.
Appellate court upholds sentence
On 22 October 2018, the 2nd Criminal Chamber of the Istanbul Regional Court of Justice rejected the appeals against the sentences. The court rendered the ruling without a public hearing despite defense lawyers’ requests. The appellate court ruled for the continuation of detention of all jailed defendants in the case, including Şanlı.
Supreme Court upholds conviction
In March 2020, the 16th Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Appeals upheld the convictions of 17 journalists in the case publicly known as the “FETÖ media trial,” including Ufuk Şanlı. The Supreme Court’s judgment became official on 8 June 2020, when it was finally uploaded on the National Judiciary Informatics System (UYAP).
Şanlı is still behind bars in Istanbul’s Silivri Prison.