14 November 2019:
Fatih Polat acquitted of “insulting the president”
The fourth and final hearing in the trial of Fatih Polat, the editor-in-chief of Evrensel daily, on the charge of “insulting the president” took place on 14 November 2019 at the Bakırköy 31st Criminal Court of First Instance.
The lawyers representing President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had filed a complaint against Polat after his article “Erdoğan ailesiyle ilgili bu iddialara muhatapları ne diyor?” (What do those addressed say about these allegations concerning the Erdoğan family?), published on 28 May 2017 in Evrensel, was already removed from the website upon the order of an Istanbul court.
P24 monitored the hearing, which began 23 minutes later than scheduled due to the late arrival of Erdoğan’s lawyer Gökhan Yılmaz. Fatih Polat was in attendance with his lawyers Devrim Avcı and Mustafa Söğütlü.
The presiding judge Aysel Sevcan informed those in attendance that Erdoğan’s lawyer had filed an objection against the expert opinion concerning Polat, submitted to the court by the London-based freedom of expression organization Article 19. Reiterating his objection, Yılmaz asked the court to sentence Polat.
Speaking next, Polat’s lawyer Avcı reminded the court that the original news report published on the website theblacksea.eu, by Craig Shaw, which was the article referred to in Polat’s column, was still accessible online. Avcı said that while a news report such as Craig Shaw’s was found worthy of an award elshere in the world, in Turkey punishment was sought over it.
Reminding that case-law by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) and the Supreme Court of Appeals held that political figures must tolerate harsh criticism, Avcı said that being a political figure, the President, who also the Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) chairman, was not immune from such criticism. She said, “The news story in question is within the scope of freedom of expression. It is lawful and does not cross the line of reporting.” She asked the court to acquit her client.
Asked for his final words, Polat said that his final defense statement would be about journalism and he went on to recount an episode that took place a day before the hearing was held at the meeting between Erdoğan and Trump. After responding to questions from journalists, Trump had asked if there were any Turkish journalists to ask questions to Erdoğan. “This was an embarrassing scene,” Polat said. Then Erdoğan’s lawyer interfered and asked “What has this defense statement have to do with journalism?” upon which the presiding judge warned Yılmaz, reminding the lawyer of Polat’s right to deliver his defense statement. Continuing his statement, Polat said: “It is the job of the journalist to ask questions. If we give up asking questions, we cannot do journalism.” Asserting that he did not commit the alleged crime, Polat asked to be acquitted.
Announcing its verdict at the end of the hearing, the court ruled to acquit Polat of “insulting the president” on the grounds that the article was within the scope of the freedom to inform the public as per Article 28 of the Constitution.
Fatih Polat’s trial on “insult” charge adjourned
The trial of journalist Fatih Polat, the editor-in-chief of Evrensel daily, on the charge of “insulting the president” resumed on 17 Septmeber 2019 at Istanbul’s Bakırköy 31st Criminal Court of First Instance.
The accusation stems from Polat’s article titled “Erdoğan ailesiyle ilgili bu iddialara muhatapları ne diyor?” (What do those addressed say about these allegations concerning the Erdoğan family?), published in the newspaper on 28 May 2017. P24 monitored the hearing, which was the third hearing in the trial. Polat and his lawyer Devrim Avcı were in attendance.
In its interim ruling, the court adjourned the trial until 14 November 2019 for Polat’s written defense statement to be submitted to the court.
7 February 2019:
At the İstanbul Courthouse in Çağlayan, the second hearing of the case filed against the newspaper's chief editor Fatih Polat on charge of "openly disclosing the confidentiality of interpersonal communication" was also held by the same court yesterday.
A court case was filed against Polat on February 22, 2010 for reporting the voice records which allegedly belong to the then Metropolitan Mayor of Ankara Melih Gökçek and the Grand National Assembly of Turkey (TBMM) Constitutional Committee Chair of the time Burhan Kuzu.
In his statement of defense, Polat emphasized that the related news had previously been reported by Akşam newspaper.
The court has ruled that the case file shall be sent to an expert on information technologies so that it can be determined whether any news reports regarding the voice records in question had been published on Evrensel before February 22, 2010.
The next hearing will be held on December 6, 2018. (AS/SD)
6 September 2018:
18 October 2017:
............................The journalists were questioned about different groups recognized as terrorists by Turkey, according to analysis in the daily Evrensel by chief editor Fatih Polat, who followed the case and interviewed defense lawyers. Öğreten's terror allegation was linked to him working for the shuttered daily Taraf before he was at Diken, which prosecutors saidwas a "media organ of the FETÖ." FETÖ, or the Fethullah Gülen Terrorist Organization is the name Turkish authorities gave to the Hizmet Movement, an international organization led by exiled cleric Fethullah Gülen. The prosecutor also accused the journalist of being a member of the extreme leftist group the Revolutionary People's Salvation Party/Front (DHKP/C). Another report in Evrensel said the others were accused of having ties to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and the Marxist Leninist Communist Party (MLKP). The report did not specify which accusations related to which defendant. The journalists denied the charges.
Atilla Bahçıvan, a lawyer for Kanaat, told Polat that the evidence was either weak or not criminal under Turkish law. Bahçıvan said, "The case is there just because of the name Berat Albayrak. Nothing would come out [of this case] if it was about something else."
25 October 2016:
Newspaper editors acquitted of terrorism charges
The charges stemmed from a story briefly published on the newspaper's website that reported that PKK militants had taken a police commissioner hostage. The editors removed the story from the website within a few hours after it was published, after they learned it was not true. The story in question did not appear in the print edition of the newspaper.
2 August 2016:
Police interrogate newspaper editor
The investigation also includes a similar story by Kemal Göktaş, a journalist from the daily Cumhuriyet, Evrensel reported. Can Dündar, editor of that newspaper, is also scheduled to answer interrogators' questions regarding that story, Evrenselreported.