Former politics and economy correspondent for the shuttered daily newspaper Millet
Ufuk Şanlı, a business journalist for a number of media outlets including Zaman and Vatan dailies and a contributor to Al-Monitor, was arrested on July 27 as part of a sweeping crackdown on journalists suspected of being followers of Fethullah Gülen, an exiled preacher whom the government accuses of maintaining a “parallel state structure” and an armed terrorist organization, “FETÖ/PDY.”
In the indictment against them, Şanlı and 28 others were formally charged with “membership of an armed terrorist organization,” carrying a prison term of up to 15 years.
The first hearing of the trial was held in late March 2017. At the end of the five-day hearing, the 25th High Criminal Court of Istanbul decided to release 21 of the 26 suspects under detention while ruling to keep Şanlı and four other suspects in detention. However, all of the 21 suspects were rearrested before they left the prison compound late at night on March 31. Thirteen suspects whose release was sought by the prosecutor were arrested as part of a new investigation, this time on coup charges, and eight others were detained upon a successful appeal from the prosecutor against their release.
The second hearing ıf the case was held on April 27, 2017, at İstanbul’s Çağlayan Courthouse. All three judges of the trial court and the prosecutor of the case were suspended after the court decided to release 21 of the 26 suspects under detention at the end of the first hearing.
The new judges of the case decided at the end of the second hearing to keep all detained defendants under detention and adjourned the trial until July 6, 2017.
At the end of the trial, on March 8, 2018, the court convicted 25 journalists standing trial in the case, including Şanlı, of terrorism-related charges. Şanlı and 11 other co-defendants were convicted of “membership in an armed terrorist organization” and sentenced to 7.5 years in prison. The court said in its verdict that their “actions and intent required a higher sentence than the lower limit set by the law.” The court also ruled for the continuation of detention of the imprisoned defendants in the case.
In October, the appeals against prison sentences given to 25 defendants in the case were rejected by an appellate court. The 2nd Criminal Chamber of the Istanbul Regional Court of Justice rendered its decision on 22 October. The court made the ruling without a public hearing despite defense lawyers’ requests for a hearing. The appellate court also ruled for the continuation of detention of all jailed defendants in the case.
Convictions against the journalists are now expected to be taken to the Supreme Court of Appeals.
Şanlı is still behind bars in Istanbul’s Silivri Prison. Source: https://expressioninterrupted.com/ufuk-sanli/
Journalist Şanlı, under arrest for over 2 years, asks press unions not to forget him
Journalist Ufuk Şanlı, who was arrested in the aftermath of a failed coup attempt in Turkey in July 2016 and was handed down a prison sentence of seven years, six months in March of this year, has said he wants Turkish and international press organizations not to forget him.
Şanlı, an experienced business reporter, used to work for the Vatan and Zaman dailies. Zaman was closed down by the Turkish government due to its links to the Gülen movement in the aftermath of the coup attempt on July 15.
The Turkish government accuses the Gülen movement of masterminding the failed coup and labels it a “terrorist organization,” although the movement strongly denies involvement in the abortive putsch or any terrorist activity.
Şanlı was detained on July 27, 2016 and was arrested on July 31, 2016. A high criminal court in İstanbul handed down a seven year, six month prison sentence to the journalist on charges of membership in a terrorist organization.
Dozens of journalists were jailed for simply working at media organizations linked to the Gülen movement.
Şanlı, who is incarcerated in İstanbul’s Silivri Prison, in early September responded to a questionnaire prepared by the P24 Independent Journalism Platform during a visit by P24 lawyers.
The questionnaire aims at revealing the circumstances and the problems faced by jailed journalists in prison and making a contribution to their solution.
Şanlı complained that no representative from any Turkish or international press organization has come to visit him in prison so far.
“Until today, nobody came either from journalist organizations or from the nongovernmental organization working on this [the press]. Many of my colleagues here feel the same as me. We would like the Turkish Journalists’ Association, Turkish Journalists’ Labor Union, Committee to Protect Journalists, Reporters without Borders and the Economy Reporters Association [because it is my area of expertise] not to forget us,” Şanlı said in the questionnaire.
To a question about whether he has any health problems and whether he can easily access medical services in prison, Şanlı said a hospital in İstanbul, the Okmeydanı Teaching and Research Hospital, gave him a report that shows that he needs to have an operation. Şanlı did not mention what his problem was but said he could not have the operation due to the lack of hygiene in prison and because there is nobody to care for him after the surgery.
When asked whether he has even been visited by a member of the Turkish Parliament, Şanlı said no deputy has come to visit him in prison.
“At least, I would like to have been visited by a deputy who has a journalism background,” said the journalist.
Şanlı left a question unanswered that asked whether he has even been subjected to maltreatment or physical or verbal harassment in prison.
Zaman, which was Turkey’s best-selling newspaper, was taken over by the government in March 2016 and then closed down in the aftermath of the failed coup attempt. Zaman angered the government with its critical stance and extensive coverage of a corruption scandal that erupted in late 2013. Source
CPJ could not determine the exact date that Şanlı was taken into custody.
An Istanbul court on July 29, 2016, ordered Şanlı and 16 other journalists jailed pending trial on charges of "being members of an armed terrorist organization," according to the media monitoring group P24. The daily newspaper Hürriyet reported that prosecutors questioned the 17 journalists on accusations of "being members of an armed terrorist organization," "founding or leading an armed terrorist organization," "knowingly and willingly helping [a terrorist] organization without being involved in the organization's hierarchical structure," and "committing crimes in the name of a [terrorist] organization without being a member."
All but one of the journalists were charged with “being a member of an armed [terrorist] organization,” which carries up to 10 years in prison, according to the indictment.
CPJ found the indictment 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 Gulenists.
The indictment accused the defendants of manipulating the public perception of FETÖ to turn citizens against the government, which prosecutors argued made them members of the group that Turkey alleges is behind the attempted coup.
Prosecutors as evidence against Şanlı his work at a Gulenist outlet; social media activity; that he stayed at a Gülenist dormitory at college; and that he had the Bylock app on his phone. Turkish authorities say the messaging application is evidence of being a FETÖ member.
When the trial started in March 2017, an Istanbul court ordered Şanlı and four of his co-accused to be detained for the duration of the trial, according to reports.
Şanlı was being held in Istanbul's Silivri Prison.
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