Accusations: Membership of a terrorist organization
Ali Sönmez Kayar, a reporter for Etkin News Agency (ETHA), was arrested on February 6, 2018, on allegations of “membership of a terrorist organization”. Kayar was first detained by police on February 1st while leaving his work. Six co-defendants were arrested following simultaneous raids on their houses. The case has eight defendants in total, having six in pretrial detention. Kayar is currently imprisoned at Silivri Prison, Istanbul.
Kayar was brought to court for the first time on July 13, accused of “membership of Turkey’s Marxist-Leninist Communist Party” which, as of 2007, is listed as an active terrorist organization in Turkey. Kayar’s journalistic work and attendance at the funeral of those killed in the bomb attack on October 10, 2015 in Ankara is cited as criminal evidence in the indictment.
ETHA journalists have become the subject of many other cases. They have become a target of the government for their reporting. As of today, six ETHA journalists and reporters, including Ali Sönmez Kayar, are under detention because of their work. Other journalists who are in pretrial detention are İsminaz Temel, Havva Cuştan, Adil Demirci, Semiha Şahin, Pınar Gayıp.
31 October 2019:
ETHA reporter Ali Sönmez Kayar’s trial adjourned until February
The fifth hearing in the trial of Ali Sönmez Kayar, a reporter for Etkin news agency (ETHA), and eight others on the charge of “membership in a terrorist group” took place on 31 October 2019 at the 32nd High Criminal Court of Istanbul.
P24 monitored the hearing, which began about an hour later than scheduled. Sıtkı Güngör, a member of the central executive committee of the Socialist Party of the Oppressed (ESP), was the only defendant in attendance. He asked the court to acquit him and lift his international travel ban based on the amendments introduced with the Judicial Reform Package.
Gülhan Kaya, the lawyer representing Kayar and Güngör, also addressed the court, requesting the court to acquit her clients based on the judicial reform. Kaya also asked the court to lift Güngör’s travel ban. Other defense lawyers asked the court to lift the judicial control measures imposed on their clients.
The prosecution requested the continuation of the judicial control measures.
Announcing their interim ruling following a brief deliberation without going into recess, the panel ruled to keep the judicial control measures imposed on eight of the defendants, including Kayar, in place and to lift Güngör’s travel ban. The court also ruled to hear a secret witness who uses the alias “Zafer Atılım” and another witness named Sercan Kaya, who will both testify in connection with Ali Sönmez Kayar’s file, during the next hearing and adjourned the trial until 13 February 2020.
19 February 2019:
The third hearing of a trial where Etkin news agency (ETHA) reporter Ali Sönmez Kayar and nine other defendants are accused of “membership in a terrorist group” resumed on 19 February at the 32nd High Criminal Court of Istanbul.
Issuing an interim ruling at the end of the hearing, the court ordered to keep the international travel ban on the defendants who are not in pre-trial detention in place and adjourned the trial until 28 May.
13 July 2018: