24 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.
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
8 March 2018:
7 December, 2017 - Updated on 8 December, 2017:
........The week-long judicial marathon began on 4 December with the resumption of the trial of 29 journalists charged with acting as the “media wing” of the Gülen Movement, which is accused by the government of being behind the July 2016 coup attempt.
Two of these journalists, Murat Aksoy and Atilla Taş, were released at the previous hearing but 20 of them, including Abdullah Kılıç, Habip Güler and Yakup Çetin, are still detained and the 4 December hearing ending with the decision to keep them in detention until the next one, scheduled for 6 February. They are facing a possible sentence of between ten years in prison and life without any parole.
18 August 2017:
1 April 2017
Journalists rearrested after courts order release
Istanbul court orders release, pending trial, of at least 19 journalists
26 January 2017:
2 August 2016:
According to records of the columnist's interrogation and the order jailing him, which CPJ reviewed, prosecutors interrogated Kılıç on the suspicion that he was a member of FETÖ/PDY's "media arm," based on his work for Zaman and other newspapers the government accuses of manipulating the public to support the organization and the attempted coup. The government took over Zaman and affiliated publications in March 2016 and shut them down by decree in July that year, alleging links to the Gülenist network.
Prosecutors questioned Kılıç on suspicion of "committing crimes in the name of a [terrorist] organization without being a member," "knowingly and willingly helping a [terrorist] organization without being involved in the organization's hierarchical structure," "founding or leading an armed terrorist organization," and "being member of an armed terrorist organization," according to the documents.
Kılıç denied the charges, court documents show. He said that although he worked at Zaman until February 2011, he subsequently worked at other newspapers and television stations and had reported critically on the Gülenist network. Kılıç also said he had criticized previous attempted coups in documentaries, columns, and on social media.
Kılıç said he left Meydan in April 2015, after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in a speech warned, "For the last time: those who stay within this [Gülenist] structure will pay the price and suffer consequences," and that he had worked in the flower business since. Meydanand more than 100 other media outlets were closed by decree along with Zaman on July 27.
In its order to jail Kılıç pending trial, the court noted an apparent discrepancy in the charges against the former columnist: Prosecutors accused him of both being a member of a banned organization and of aiding a banned organization without being a member. The order does not make clear on which of the two charges Kılıç was jailed pending trial.
Kılıç is on trial with several other journalists. When the trial began in March 2017, an Istanbul court ordered Kılıç and several of the other journalists to be released while the case was heard. However, authorities brought fresh charges and the journalists were ordered to remain in custody, according to news reports. Authorities ordered an investigation into the judges who had ordered the release and they were relieved of duty, according to reports.
In the original indictment, all but one co-accused were charged with “being a member of an armed [terrorist] organization,” which carries up to 10 years in prison. The second indictment listed the charges as “attempting, through violence and force, to disrupt and replace the order as recognized by Turkey’s Constitution” and “attempting through violence and force to eliminate or prevent Parliament from carrying out its duties.” Both charges carry a maximum life sentence without parole.
CPJ found both indictments to be similar to those presented at trials of other journalists in Turkey. Prosecutors cited as evidence in these cases journalistic activity or acts of free speech and communication, or cited circumstantial evidence such as being employed by a certain media outlet or having an account at a bank allegedly linked to Gülenists.
The first indictment accused the defendants of manipulating the public perception of FETÖ to turn citizens against the government, which prosecutors argued, made the journalists members of the group that Turkey alleges is behind the attempted coup. The second indictment, which was presented as an addition to the original case, argued that the journalists should be held responsible for more than alleged membership to the group.
In Kılıç’s case, prosecutors cited as evidence in the first indictment his columns at Meydanand his tweets. Witness testimony from former colleagues alleged that Kılıç was pro-Gülen, and the prosecutors alleged that he had an account at Bank Asya, which the government alleged was a Gülenist institution.
The second indictment included as evidence Kılıç's mobile phone activity and communication records with people who were wanted or on trial for alleged Gülenist activity. Some of these people had the Bylock App on their phones, according to authorities, who claim that the app is evidence of being a FETÖ member. Kılıç did not have the app installed on his phone, according to the indictment.
Kılıç was being held in Silivri Prison, Istanbul.*
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