The new Turkey
Çağdaş Kaplan.
The editor-in-chief of the daily Yeni Yaşam

20-Feb-2020 10:59

18 December 2019:

7 journalists standing trial in Diyarbakır acquitted

The fifth hearing of a trial where seven journalists and a social media user were charged with “making those involved in combating terrorism a target” took place on 18 December 2019 at the 9th High Criminal Court of Diyarbakır. P24 monitored the hearing.

The case was launched following a complaint by senior gendarmerie commander Maj. Gen. Musa Çitil, whose name was cited in a February 2016 news report by the shuttered DİHA news agency.

Ömer Çelik, who was DİHA’s news editor at the time, former DİHA reporters Çağdaş Kaplan, Hamza Gündüz and Selman Çiçek, journalist Abdulvahap Taş, the shuttered Özgür Gündem newspaper’s responsible editor İnan Kızılkaya and publisher Kemal Sancılı, and Selim Günenç, a social media user who also shared the report, were charged with “making those involved in combating terrorism a target.” Çiçek faced the additional charge of “systematically spreading terrorism propaganda” over his social media posts.

Issuing its verdict at the end of the hearing, the court acquitted all seven journalists of all charges against them, ruling that the legal elements of the alleged crime were not present in the case. The case file against Selim Günenç, who is still at large, was separated.

2 October 2019:

Seven journalists facing up to 3 years in prison over social media posts

A Turkish prosecutor has requested between one and three year prison sentences for seven journalists over their social media posts, pro-Kurdish Fırat news agency reported on Wednesday. The journalists are accused of targeting Musa Çitil, who served as the gendarmerie deputy commander in the country’s southeastern Kurdish majority province of Diyarbakır in 2015, during the height of the conflict between the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) and Kurdish militants linked to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

The PKK is an armed group that has fought for Kurdish self-rule in Turkey for over three decades.

In August 2015, Kurdish militants declared autonomy in Diyarbakır’s central district of Sur and other city centres across the country’s southeast and erected barricades to keep security forces out. After months of bitter street fighting, military operations officially ended the following March.

Journalists Ömer Çelik, A.Vahap Taş, Çağdaş Kaplan, Selman Çiçek, Hamza Gündüz, İnan Kızılkaya and Kemal Sancılı shared on their social media accounts a report by the now defunct pro-Kurdish Dicle news agency (DİHA) which the authorities say targeted Çitil. They are accused of ‘’targeting an official fighting against terror.’’ The next hearing in the case of the journalists is set to take place on Dec. 18.

13 February 2019:

Journalist Çağdaş Kaplan indicted for “propaganda”
Journalist Çağdaş Kaplan, the former editor-in-chief of the Yeni Yaşam newspaper, is accused of “disseminating propaganda for a terrorist group via his social media posts” in a new indictment.
Kaplan was taken into custody on 6 October 2018 in Istanbul as part of the investigation and released after giving his statement before a prosecutor.
The indictment, drafted by the press offenses bureau under the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, accuses Kaplan of “spreading propaganda” through the news stories he shared on social media.
The indictment also talks about the Evrensel newspaper as “a media company that operates under the guidance of a terrorist group.”

3 December 2018:

Çağdaş Kaplan gives defense statement in “Musa Çitil case”

Çağdaş Kaplan, the editor-in-chief of the daily Yeni Yaşam, gave his defense statement on 3 December before an Istanbul court as part of an ongoing trial in Diyarbakır. 

Kaplan and six other journalists are charged with “making those involved in the fight against terrorism a target” in the case, where senior gendarmerie commander Maj. Gen. Musa Çitil, who was cited in a news report published in February 2016 by the shuttered DİHA news agency, is the plaintiff. The journalists are accused because they shared the news story on social media. 

Kaplan told the court during his statement that journalism was being put on trial in this case. He argued that Çitil was actually making journalists a target through this court case. Rejecting the accusation, Kaplan said he shared the news story for the public’s right to information. 

The next hearing in the case, overseen by the 9th High Criminal Court of Diyarbakır, is set for 16 January 2019.

7 October 2018:

Editor-in-chief of new pro-Kurdish daily briefly detained for terrorist propaganda

The editor-in-chief of the Yeni Yaşam daily, a pro-Kurdish newspaper that published its first print edition on Oct. 2, was briefly detained by Turkish police on Saturday on accusations of disseminating terrorist propaganda and was released on Sunday after testifying to a prosecutor.

According to the report in the daily, Çağdaş Kaplan was questioned about his Twitter posts, including the posts that linked to the daily’s news stories. Yeni Yaşam launched its website in May and published its first print edition five days ago.

3 October 2018:

Journalists testify in case over social media posts

Journalists deny accusations in their defense statements. Trial adjourned until January 

First hearing in the trial of seven journalists who are charged with “making those involved in combatting terrorism a target” for sharing on social media a 2016 news story was held in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır on 3 October.

The court case was launched after a complaint from senior commander Maj. Gen. Musa Çitil, who was cited in the news report. The report, published in February 2016 by the shuttered DİHA news agency, was focused on Çitil’s position as commander of the military operations in Sur district of Diyarbakır at the time despite accusations that he had been involved in the killings of 13 villagers in Mardin’s Derik district in 1993 and 1994.

The defendants include Ömer Çelik, who was the news editor at DİHA at the time, DİHA reporters Çağdaş Kaplan, Hamza Gündüz and Selman Çiçek, journalist Abdulvahap Taş, the shuttered Özgür Gündem newspaper’s responsible editor İnan Kızılkaya and owner Kemal Sancılı. Kızılkaya and Sancılı are on trial because the DİHA report was also shared on Özgür Gündem’s social media accounts.

Prosecutor additionally seeks up to five years in jail for Çiçek on the charge of “terrorism propaganda” for his social media posts.

Three of the defendants, Abdulvahap Taş, Selman Çiçek and Ömer Çelik, attended the first hearing held at the Diyarbakır 9th High Criminal Court. Kızılkaya and Kaplan were to give their defense statements at a criminal court in Istanbul, where they reside. Sancılı, who is in prison in Edirne as part of another trial, was expected to address the court via court videoconferencing system SEGBİS but he could not as SEGBİS facilities were made available to politician Selahattin Demirtaş who is held in the same prison.

Journalist Taş told the court that he had only retweeted the report, that he acted within bounds of the right to information and that he had no intention to expose any official as a target.

Çiçek and Çelik similarly denied the accusation, saying they had no criminal intent and that there were multiple news reports about the military operations in Sur. Çelik said the news report in question was a journalistic activity carried out in the name of public’s right to information and emphasized that the complainant in the case was a known public figure whose actions were the subject of the news report.

Lawyer Resul Temur said the news report’s emphasis was on the fact that Maj. Gen. Çitil was assigned to lead the operations in an area with a large civilian population despite past accusations against him regarding the killing of 13 villagers in Derik, which culminated in a court case.

Announcing its interim ruling at the end of the hearing, the Diyarbakır 9th High Criminal Court adjourned the trial until 16 January 2019. Source

14 June 2018:
7 journalists indicted for posting news story on social media

Former Dicle news agency (DİHA) news manager Ömer Çelik, reporters Çağdaş Kaplan, Hamza Gündüz, Selman Çiçek, freelance journalist A. Vahap Taş, former Özgür Gündem responsible managing editor İnan Kızılkaya and the newspaper’s publisher Kemal Sancılı are facing charges in a newly issued indictment for sharing a 2016 news story on social media.

The indictment, issued by the Diyarbakır Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office and accepted by the 9th High Criminal Court of Diyarbakır, seeks up to 3 years of imprisonment for each of the seven journalists on the charge of “targeting state officials assigned in the fight against terrorism.” The indictment also seeks an additional prison term between 1 to 5 years for Selman Çiçek on the charge of “conducting propaganda for a terrorist organization” via social media.

31 May 2018:

Journalist Çağdaş Kaplan sentenced to over 6 years in prison

Kaplan was sentenced to 6 years and 3 months in prison for “membership in a terrorist organisation” in a case that has been pending since 2010

Journalist Çağdaş Kaplan was sentenced to 6 years and 3 months in prison for “membership in a terrorist organization” by a court in the western province of Sakarya on 31 May. Kaplan, who recently became the founding editor-in-chief of the daily newspaper Yeni Yaşam, which was launched earlier on May 2018, was also handed down a travel ban pending appeal.
The case against Kaplan has been dragging since 2010, from when he used to be a reporter for the now shuttered Dicle News Agency (DİHA). Kaplan was arrested at the time for his reporting of the operations against the Kurdish students enrolled at the Sakarya University, where he, too, was a student. A prosecutor subsequently pressed charges against Kaplan and others who were arrested as part of the case.
During the verdict hearing at the 2nd High Criminal Court of Sakarya, which was monitored by P24, the court found Kaplan and the other 18 defendants guilty as charged of “membership in a terrorist organization” and sentenced each of them to 6 years and 3 months in prison.
Lawyer: Çağdaş Kaplan is a journalist
Çağdaş Kaplan’s lawyer Gülcan Kartal Bağat said her client was a journalist, working as a reporter for the now-closed DİHA news agency at the time of the operation. Documents proving his journalism were submitted to the court, she said.
Bağat also expressed her dismay regarding the investigation and charges brought by the prosecution. “[The prosecution] attempted to produce evidence by means of interpretation and forcing [the situation],” Bağat said. “The initial investigation is entirely unlawful. Police resorted to the ‘enemy criminal law’,” she said.
Bağat said none of the allegations in the indictment had been based on any concrete evidence whatsoever. “Allegations that Kaplan provided the organizations with new recruits lack any concrete basis. All the accusations are based on a phone conversation that Çağdaş Kaplan made with a childhood friend in order to learn the mailing address of his sister, who was in jail [at the time]. We don’t accept this phone conversation as evidence,” Bağat said.
“A criminal charge was created with forced evidence. Çağdaş Kaplan is a journalist and he continues to do his job as the editor-in-chief of a daily newspaper,” she added.
The case was overseen by a specially authorized high criminal court in Istanbul until 2014 when those special courts were abolished by law. The case was then handed to the 2nd High Criminal Court of Sakarya. While the Constitutional Court ruled to rehear prominent cases such as the Ergenekon and Sledghammer (Balyoz) coup trials considering the judgment of the specially authorized courts invalid, Kaplan’s case moved forward despite the significant changes in the legal system. *

10 June 2018:

A Diyarbakır court today accepted an indictment accusing seven journalists of "making propaganda for a [terrorist] organisation" or "making targets of those who have assigned to combat terrorism," over news reports they shared on social media, the Mezopotamya news agency reported. The defendants face up to three years in prison if found guilty.

The trial is based on a complaint filed by General Musa Çitil, a regional gendarmerie commander during clashes in the Sur district of Diyarbakır in 2016, who was previously acquitted of charges of killing killing 13 civilians in the 1990s. Ömer Çelik, former news editor for DİHA, Çağdaş Kaplan, Hamza Gündüz, Selman Çiçek and A. Vahap Taş, former reporters for DİHA, İnan Kızılkaya, former responsible news editor for Özgür Gündem, and Kemal Sancılı, former publisher of Özgür Gündem, were chargedwith "making targets of those assigned to combat terrorism" after sharing the reports on social media, and Çiçek faces an additional charge of "making propaganda" over his social media activity.

* Source