The new Turkey
Ali Akkuş.
Editor for Zaman newspaper

24-Jan-2019 9:20

18 October 2018:

Prison Sentences of Journalists Aksoy, Taş Upheld

The sentences of prison, which were previously given to 26 people, including journalists Murat Aksoy and Atilla Taş, who were released in October 2017, on charges of "being members of an armed terrorist organization" and "attempting to stage a coup", have been upheld.

The 2nd Penal Chamber of the İstanbul Regional Court of Justice (BAM) announced its verdict, where it had evaluated the requests for appeal, on October 22. The court ruled that the arrest of imprisoned defendants shall continue and rejected their requests for appeal with prejudice.

The prison sentences previously given to journalists Atilla Taş and Murat Aksoy have become definitive since that they are less than five years.

The 2nd Penal Chamber of the İstanbul Regional Court of Justice (BAM) rejected the requests for appeal raised by defendants including Abdullah Kılıç, Ahmet Memiş, Ali Akkuş, Bayram Kaya, Bünyamin Köseli, Cemal Azmi Kalyoncu, Cihan Acar, Cuma Ulus, Davut Aydın, Gökçe Fırat Çulhaoğlu, Habip Güler, Halil İbrahim Balta, Hanım Büşra Erdal, Hüseyin Aydın, Muhammet Sait Kuloğlu, Mustafa Erkan Acar, Mutlu Çölgeçen, Oğuz Usluer and Ünal Tanık.

The court also ruled for the continuation of their arrest.

The court board of the İstanbul 25th Heavy Penal Court had previously ruled that the files of fugitive defendants Bülent Ceyhan and Said Sefa shall be separated since the arrest warrants issued against them had not been executed. The board also ruled that Muhterem Tanık shall be acquitted of the charge of "being a member of an armed terrorist organization".

In the verdict of the İstanbul Regional Court of Justice, it was stated that the evidence in the case file was sound and sufficient for conviction and the ruling of the local court complied with the law.

As part of this lawsuit, journalists were arrested again shortly after a verdict of release was issued for them.

CLICK - Judges Ordering Release of 21 Journalists Suspended from Duty

CLICK - Trial of 13 Writers and Journalists on Charges of "Attempting a Coup" Begins Today

CLICK - Murat Aksoy: 'My Only Offense is Writing'

CLICK - Journalists Taş, Aksoy, Teacher Davut Released in 'FETÖ-Media Formation' Lawsuit

What happened?

On August 30, 2016, İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor's office issued a detention order for 35 people, including several academics and journalists, as part of the investigation against FETÖ following the coup attempt on July 15. 27 of the 35 detainees were later arrested.

The state-run Anadolu News Agency reported on the detention order for the journalists and writers with the headline "Operation against the media organization of FETÖ".

In the trial which was called "Media Organization" as part of the "Fethullahist Terrorist Organization/ Parallel State Organization/ FETÖ", 29 people were put on trial on charges of "being members of an armed terrorist organization" and "attempting to stage a coup".

A lawsuit was filed against the journalists on the stated charges at İstanbul 25th Heavy Penal Court, which gave its verdict on October 24, 2017.

As per the verdict of the court, 23 defendants were sentenced to 6years and three months to seven years and six months in prison on charge of "being members of an armed terrorist organization".

Facing the charge of "aiding an armed terrorist organization", defendant Atilla Taş was sentenced to 3 years, 1 month and 15 days in prison while Murat Aksoy was sentenced to 2 years and 1 month in prison. (EMK/SD) Source

An editor for Zaman newspaper, Ali Akkus was detained shortly after the failed July 15, 2016 coup attempt during sweeps targeting journalists believed to be part of the religious movement led by Pennsylvania-based cleric Fethullah Gülen, who Turkey’s government accuses of having established a “parallel state structure” and of being behind the coup attempt.

Akkus is accused of “being a member of an armed terrorist organisation."

An Istanbul court ordered Akkus arrested on July 30, 2016, pending charges of willingly aiding a terrorist group. Although a court ordered his release on March 31, 2017, the decision was reversed after an appeal by the prosecutor.

25 August 2018:

“Forgotten” journalists pen letter from prison

Nineteen Turkish journalists who fear they have been forgotten in prison have penned a letter to call attention to their plight and demand justice.

The 19 journalists held in Silivri prison are among the hundreds held in Turkey, which this year remained the world’s most prolific jailer of journalists.

The journalists were charged with membership of the outlawed Gülen religious movement, which the Turkish ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) blames for carrying out the July 2016 coup attempt.

“(We) have been held in Silivri Prison for more than two years. We, who have no job other than journalism, want to say we wish to be remembered and we expect justice,” the journalists said in their letter.

The nineteen, most of whom are reporters with little public exposure, are still being held pending appeal after two years in prison. They were among a group of 26 journalists arrested in 2016 for alleged links to Gülen who were released by a court in March last year before being detained again on the same night.

However, while five journalists have been released, pending appeal or due to health concerns, the 19 have had to remain behind bars.

“There are no concrete charges in our files. That we were released after our first hearing in court demonstrated this fact. However, we have not been released although we received lesser sentences during our last hearing,” they said.

"As ‘forgotten journalists’ who are mostly reporters and who are not well known by the public, we have been held in Silivri Prison for more than two years. We, who have no job other than journalism, want to say that we want to be remembered and that we expect justice," said the journalists.

Turkey’s press was declared “not free” by the Freedom House organisation in its 2017 report, after harsh crackdowns under a post-coup attempt state of emergency that saw hundreds of journalists arrested and a significant number of press outlets shut down. Reporters Without Borders ranked Turkey 157th out of 180 countries in its 2018 World Press Freedom Index.

The 19 signatories of the letter are: Abdullah Kılıç, Ahmet Memiş, Ali Akkuş, Bayram Kaya, Cemal Azmi Kalyoncu, Cuma Ulus, Gökçe Fırat Çulhaoğlu, Habip Güler, Hanım Büşra Erdal, Hüseyin Aydın, M. Sait Kuloğlu, M. Erkan Acar, Mutlu Çölgeçen, Oğuz Usluer,  Seyit Kılıç, Ufuk Şanlı, Ünal Tanık, Yakup Çetin and Yetkin Yıldız. **

1 April 2017:

Detention warrants were issued
for seven suspects in a case into the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ) late on March 31, hours after they were released from jail. 

The Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office issued warrants for Atilla Taş, Ali Akkuş, Hüseyin Aydın, Murat Aksoy, Mustafa Erkan Acar, Seyid Kılıç and Yetkin Yıldız, who are being tried in a case into the “media leg” of the followers of U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, said to have masterminded the failed July 15, 2016 coup attempt.

The latest detention warrants were issued for “attempting to remove the constitutional order” and “attempting to remove the government of the Turkish Republic.”