The new Turkey
The Constitutional Court ruled in July that the penalization of Academics for Peace on the charge of "propagandizing for a terrorist organization" violated their freedom of expression.
After the ruling, Üstel's attorneys Sennur Baybuğa and Fikret İlkiz made an application to the 32nd Heavy Penal Court, which sentenced Üstel to prison for "propagandizing for a terrorist organization." The court acquitted of Üstel and ruled that all provisions and results of the verdict of prison sentence shall be removed.
On April 4, 2018, Prof. Dr. Zübeyde Füsun Üstel from Galatasaray University was sentenced to 1 year and 3 months in prison on the charge of "propagandizing for a terrorist organization" as per Article 7/2 of the Anti-Terror Law (TMK) for having signed the peace declaration.
The penalty of Prof. Dr. Üstel was not deferred by the İstanbul 32nd Heavy Penal Court on the ground that she did not demand the deferment of the announcement of the verdict and did not make "a statement of penitence."
The 3rd Panel Chamber of İstanbul Regional Court of Justice, the court of appeal, upheld the prison sentence of Prof. Dr. Füsun Üstel in a verdict dated February 25, 2019. Though her attorneys objected to the verdict of the court of appeal, her prison sentence was still executed. Accordingly, Füsun Üstel was imprisoned in Eskişehir on May 8, 2019.
Since December 5, 2017, when the trials of academics started, 204 Academics for Peace have been sentenced to prison.
The prison sentences of 36 of 204 academics have not been suspended: While the prison sentences of 29 academics were not deferred as their prison terms are over two years (as per the Article 286 of the Law on Penal Courts), 6 academics, including Füsun Üstel, did not accept the deferment of the announcement of their verdicts.
Verdicts of acquittal at 26 courts
The Constitutional Court on July 26 ruled that the penalization of Academics for Peace on the charge of "terror propaganda" has violated their freedom of expression.
After the Constitutional Court ruled that the freedom of expression of Academics for Peace has been violated, joint and separate verdicts of acquittal have been given for academics at 26 courts in total.
About Zübeyde Füsun Üstel
Prof. Dr. Zübeyde Füsun Üstel is an academic at Galatasaray University. She completed her undergraduate studies at Ankara University, Faculty of Political Sciences. She received her Master's degree from the University of Johns Hopkins in Italy in 1980-1981 and started working as a research assistant at İstanbul University, Faculty of Economics. (TP/VK)
One of the judges member to the board of the upper court has expressed a dissenting opinion, stating that "the elements of the crime did not arise." In the dissenting opinion appended to the verdict of the İstanbul 33rd Heavy Penal Court, the judge has referred to the "right violation" verdict given by the Constitutional Court for teacher Ayşe Çelik, who was previously imprisoned twice on charge of "terror propaganda" for having said, "Don't let children die, don't let mothers crime" in a live TV program.
The judge has also underlined that a verdict of stay of execution should have been given "to prevent any possible rights violations." Sentenced to 1 year, 3 months in prison on charge of "propagandizing for a terrorist organization" for having signed the declaration "We will not be a party to this crime" prepared by Academics for Peace, Prof. Dr. Füsun Üstel has been arrested in Eskişehir Type H Closed Prison since May 8, 2019. Read the full article
22 May 2019:
In its detailed ruling dated May 21, Eskişehir 1st Judgeship of Execution accepted Üstel's request for transfer to an open prison by referring to a verdict by Supreme Court of Appeals, which ruled, "The ones convicted of terror propaganda cannot be deemed a terrorist organization member."
Examining the objection of Public Prosecutor Hüseyin Özdemir, the Eskişehir 1st Heavy Penal Court has reversed the ruling of the Judgeship of Execution, which means that Üstel cannot be transferred from the Eskişehir Type H Closed Prison to a open penal institution.
'She is convicted of a terror crime'
In its detailed ruling, Eskişehir 1st Judgeship of Execution referred to a verdict given by the 1st Penal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Appeals dated April 29. In this verdict, the Supreme Court concluded that the ones convicted of propagandizing for a terrorist organization cannot be considered a member of a terrorist organization.
Reversing the judgement of the Judgeship of Execution, the Eskişehir 1st Heavy Penal Court has stated, "Considering that the offense of propagandizing for a terrorist organization is governed by the Article 7/2 of the Anti-Terror Law (TMK), it shall be considered a terror crime."
Accordingly, Prof. Dr. Füsun Üstel, who is currently held in Eskişehir Type H Closed Prison, will not be transferred to an open penal institution. As per the Article 6/1 of the By-Law on Transfer to Open Penal Institutions, Üstel shall request her transfer to an open penal institution after serving almost three and a half months in the closed prison.
8 May 2019:
Turkish academic begins serving prison sentence for signing 2016 peace petition
Professor Füsun Üstel, the first academic who signed a peace petition in 2016 to be incarcerated, turned herself in to prison authorities today to begin serving her sentence, the Stockholm Center for Freedom reported. Academics had gathered on Tuesday to bid farewell to Professor Üstel, whose 15-month prison sentence was upheld by the İstanbul Regional Court of Justice.
Speaking at the event, Üstel said: “We are not at the point where the word ends, but where it begins. As citizens, as individuals, we will voice our demand to live in peace.” Üstel will serve 11 months at the Eskişehir Women’s Prison in line with a law that stipulates individuals convicted of terrorist activities must serve three-quarters of their sentence in a penal facility and the remainder on probation.
The İstanbul Regional Appeals Court on March 3 upheld the prison sentence of Üstel, who signed a peace petition along with 1,128 other academics in 2016 calling on the Turkish government to halt military operations in the predominantly Kurdish southeastern region of the country. The İstanbul 32nd High Criminal Court had previously sentenced Professor Üstel to one year, three months for disseminating terrorist propaganda. Üstel refused the offer of a suspended sentence.
Prof. Dr. Esen from Boğaziçi University has made her defence at her first hearing at 14th Heavy Penal Court. As for the professors Üstel and Polat, the 32nd Heavy Penal Court has sentenced them to 1 year 3 months in prison. The penalty of Üstel has not been postponed.
Three academics, who have been charged with "propagandizing for a terrorist organization" for having signed the declaration "We will not be a party to this crime" prepared by the Academics for Peace, stood trial today (April 4) at 32nd and 14th Heavy Penal Courts.
Prof. Dr. Zübeyde Füsun Üstel from Galatasaray University and Assoc. Prof. Dr. Veli Polat from İstanbul University have been sentenced to 1 year 3 months in prison.
The penalty of Prof. Dr. Üstel has not been deferred on the grounds that she has not demanded deferment of the announcement of the verdict and that she has not made "a statement of penitence." An appeal regarding the verdict can be made to the Court of Appeal. As for the prison sentence given to Assoc. Prof. Dr. Polat, his penalty has been deferred.
Prof. Dr. Nüket Esen from Boğaziçi University had her first hearing today at 14th Heavy Penal Court. Presenting her statement of defence, Esen rejected the allegations. The court ruled that the next hearing of Esen shall be adjourned to June 28.
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Veli Polat from İstanbul University, Prof. Dr. Zübeyde Füsun Üstel from Galatasaray University and Assistant Professor Yasemin Gülsüm Acar from Özyeğin University had their third hearings today at 32nd Heavy Penal Court.
The hearing of Acar has been postponed to April 12 due to the excuse of her attorney.
180 academics are on trial
Among the ones watching the hearings were representatives from the United Kingdom Article 19 Group.
The hearings against signatory academics started on December 5, 2017. As of April 4, 180 people had their first hearings, 30 of them had their second hearings and one academic had the third. Five academics were sentenced to 1 year and 3 months in prison, and the sentences were suspended.
On January 10, 2016, 1,128 academics published a declaration entitled "We will not be party to this crime" on behalf of the Academics for Peace initiative.
On March 10, 2016, Asst. Prof. Dr. Esra Mungan, Asst. Prof. Dr. Muzaffer Kaya, Assoc. Prof. Dr Kıvanç Ersoy and Asst. Prof. Dr. Meral Camcı read out the press statement at a press conference that was was held on behalf of the Academics for Peace/Istanbul group regarding the developments which had occurred since the declaration was first shared with the public.
The first three of these academics were arrested on the charge of "terrorist propaganda" on March 15, 2016, and the last, Camcı, who was abroad at the time, was arrested on March 31 when she returned to Turkey. The four academics were released on April 22, 2016 upon their first hearing, in which the prosecutor of the trial changed the charges pressed against the academics to the crimes regulated under Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code (insulting Turkey, the Turkish nation, or Turkish government institutions) and applied for authorization from the Ministry of Justice to hold the trial under the new article.
Another bill of indictment was prepared in October 2017 regarding at least 148 academics who signed the declaration. The academics were charged with "terrorist organization propaganda" under Article 7/2 of the Turkish Anti-Terror Act (#3713) in the bill of indictment prepared by Prosecutor İsmet Bozkurt. The first hearings were held on December 5, 2017.
As of April 4, 180 people had their first hearings, 30 of them had their second hearings and one academic had the third. Five academics were sentenced to 1 year and 3 months in prison, and the sentences were suspended. (TP/SD)