Last update: 14-Apr-2020 11:14
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.
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:
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.
11 October 2019:
Kemal Sancılı, the former publisher of the shuttered daily Özgür Gündem, was released from the Edirne F Type Prison late on 11 October 2019 after completing a 3-year sentence he was given in a previous case.
The court overseeing the ongoing Özgür Gündem trial had ruled on 10 April to release Sancılı pending trial but he remained behind bars due to a previous conviction from a case against Demokratik Ulus — a pro-Kurdish weekly that used to be published by the company that also published Özgür Gündem.
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.
10 April 2019:
Announcing its judgement on Kemal Sancılı, the Grant Holder of the newspaper who was arrested pending trial, the court board has ruled that Sancılı shall be released in this lawsuit, considering that there is a verdict of conviction previously given for him in another lawsuit.
The court board has also ruled that a writ shall be submitted to the İstanbul 13th Heavy Penal Court, requesting that the file of the case at this court where defendants Eren Keskin and Reyhan Çapan are tried together be separated and combined with the file of Özgür Gündem main trial heard by the İstanbul 23rd Heavy Penal Court.
Ruling that the file of the case shall also be sent to the Prosecutor's Office for the preparation of the opinion as to the accusations, the court board has also demanded that defendants and their attorneys prepare their statements of defense until the next hearing to be held on July 3, 2019.
Eren Keskin: I find this situation tragicomic
The eleventh hearing of the case held today was attended by arrested defendant Kemal Sancılı and Eren Keskin, who is tried without being arrested, as well as several attorneys.
Speaking first in the hearing, Sancılı stated, "I only request my release." As for Keskin, she said, "I don't think that I committed a crime by defending this newspaper's freedom of making news. I cannot accept that freedom of thoıght and expression can be oppressed to such an extent in this day and age. I find this situation tragicomic."
The “Özgür Gender main trial,” where the former publisher, editors, and advisory board members of the shuttered newspaper stand accused of “disrupting the unity of the state,” “terrorist group membership” and “disseminating propaganda for a terrorist group,” resumed on 17 January in Istanbul.
P24 monitored the hearing at the Istanbul 23rd High Criminal Court. The paper’s jailed publisher Kemal Sancılı addressed the court from the Edirne Prison via the courtroom video-conferencing system SEGBİS. Both Sancılı and his lawyer Özcan Kılıç requested for his release pending trial.
The prosecution requested the continuation of Sancılı’s pre-trial detention. Issuing an interim ruling at the end of the hearing, the court ordered the continuation of Sancılı’s detention and adjourned the trial until 10 April 2019.
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
4 June 2018:
Kızılkaya, whose position at the newspaper made him legally responsible for everything it published, faces more than 100 criminal cases in connection with the newspaper's coverage. Sancılı appeared via videoconference from prison, according to news reports.