Last update: 14-Apr-2020
13 January 2020:
The “Özgür Gündem main trial,” where nine former editors, executives and members of the editorial advisory board of the shuttered newspaper Özgür Gündem face terrorism-related charges, resumed on 13 January 2020 at the 23rd High Criminal Court of Istanbul.
The prosecutor presented his final opinion during the hearing, asking the court to convict Aslı Erdoğan and Zana Kaya of “terrorism propaganda” while seeking prison sentences for Eren Keskin, İnan Kızılkaya and Kemal Sancılı on the charge of “membership of a terrorist group.” The prosecutor asked the court to acquit Bilge Aykut and Necmiye Alpay of all charges and to separate the files of Ragıp Zarakolu and Filiz Koçali.
Granting the defendants and their lawyers additional time for the preparation of their final defense statements, the court adjourned the trial until 14 February 2020. A report about the hearing, monitored by P24, can be accessed here.
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.
10 December 2019:
The 10th hearing in the trial of former Özgür Gündem publisher Kemal Sancılı and responsible editor İnan Kızılkaya over three news reports published in the newspaper in 2016 took place on 10 December 2019 at the 27th High Criminal Court of Istanbul.
Kızılkaya and Sancılı were represented by their lawyer Sercan Korkmaz at the court.
The court ruled to send the case file to the Istanbul Regional Court of Justice to resolve a disagreement between the trial court and the 23rd High Criminal Court of Istanbul, which is overseeing the “Özgür Gündem main trial,” over the merging of both files. The trial was adjourned until 26 March 2020.
28 November 2029:
The 14th hearing of the “Özgür Gündem main trial,” where nine defendants, including the shuttered newspaper’s former editors, columnists and members of the editorial advisory board stand accused of terrorism-related charges, resumed on 28 November 2019 at the 23rd High Criminal Court of Istanbul.
Journalist İnan Kızılkaya, linguist Necmiye Alpay and human rights lawyer Eren Keskin as well as defense lawyers were present in court. The prosecution requested a continuance for the presentation of the final opinion because the prosecutor assigned with the trial was on leave.
Asserting that the trial has been going on for three years, Keskin told the court that this was a violation of their right to a fair trial. The court granted a continuance to the prosecution and adjourned the trial until 13 January 2020.
Kemal Sancılı, the publisher of the shuttered Özgür Gündem newspaper, and the paper’s former managing editor İnan Kızılkaya, appeared before the 27th High Criminal Court of Istanbul on 28 November 2019 for the ninth hearing in their trial over three news reports that were published in 2016.
Kızılkaaya and Sancılı, who were both absent, were represented by lawyer Sercan Korkmaz. Announcing the prosecution’s final opinion, the prosecutor requested Sancılı and Kızılkaya to be sentenced for “disseminating continuous propaganda for a terrorist organization.”
Accepting Korkmaz’s request for additional time to prepare the defense statements, the court adjourned the trial until 10 December 2019.
10 October 2019:
The four defendants are accused of “publicly degrading the government, the judiciary or the police force” and “publicly degrading the Turkish nation, the Turkish Republic and the Parliament” under TCK Article 301.
This was the 14th hearing in the case. In its interim ruling at the end of the hearing, the court ruled to wait for the execution of the arrest warrant against Hatip Dicle and adjourned the trial until 6 February 2020.
This was the eighth hearing in the case, where Sancılı and Kızılkaya are accused because of three news articles published in Özgür Gündem in 2016. The presiding judge informed those in attendance that a request to merge the case file with the ongoing Özgür Gündem main trial overseen by the 23rd High Criminal Court of Istanbul was rejected.
Issuing an interim ruling at the end of the hearing, the court decided to hand over the case file to the prosecution for the drafting of their final opinion and adjourned the trial until 28 November 2019.
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.
21 February 2019:
A trial in which journalists Hüseyin Aykol, Zana Kaya and İnan Kızılkaya -- former co-editors-in-chief and managing editor of the shuttered daily Özgür Gündem -- and Kurdish politician Hatip Dicle stand accused for the news stories and articles published in the newspaper resumed on 21 February in Istanbul.
The four defendants are accused of “publicly degrading the government, the judiciary or the police force” and “publicly degrading the Turkish nation, the Turkish Republic and the Parliament.”
None of the defendants were in attendance at the hearing, which was the 11th in the case.
Issuing an interim ruling at the end of the hearing, the 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance ruled to issue an arrest warrant for Dicle and adjourned the trial until 28 March.
28 March 2019:
25 October 2018:
An Istanbul court on 25 October convicted journalists Hüseyin Aykol, the former co-editor-in-chief of the shuttered pro-Kurdish newspaper Özgür Gündem, İnan Kızılkaya, the newspaper’s managing editor, and Evrensel columnist İhsan Çaralan of “insulting the president” in an article published in Özgür Gündem.
The 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance of Istanbul initially sentenced Aykol and Kızılkaya to 18-month prison terms. The sentences were increased to 1 year and 9 months on grounds that the offense was committed publicly and then to 2 years, 2 months and 8 days on grounds that the same offense was committed multiple times. Taking into account the journalists’ good behavior during the proceedings, the court then reduced both sentences to 1 year 10 months and 26 days.
As for Çaralan, the court initially ruled for a 1-year sentence. It then increased the jail term to 1 year and 2 months on grounds that the offense was committed publicly. On grounds of good behavior during proceedings, the court reduced Çaralan’s sentence to 11 months and 20 days.
The court deferred the sentences for Kızılkaya and Çaralan by five years, but Aykol risks going to prison in the event his sentence is upheld by an appeals court.***
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
10 June 2018:
31 October 2017:
...........The daily’s license holder Kemal Sancılı and its acting news editor İnan Kızılkaya were released during the hearing in which they are being tried along with seven others on charges of “targeting the unity of the state” and “being a member of a terror organization.”............