The new Turkey
Ünal Tanık
Chief editor of the news website Rotahaber

24-Jan-2019 16:37

Medium: Internet
Charge: Anti-state
Imprisoned: 17 January 2017

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.

CLICK - Judges Ordering Release of 21 Journalists Suspended from Duty

CLICK - Trial of 13 Writers and Journalists on Charges of "Attempting a Coup" Begins Today

CLICK - Murat Aksoy: 'My Only Offense is Writing'

CLICK - Journalists Taş, Aksoy, Teacher Davut Released in 'FETÖ-Media Formation' Lawsuit

What happened?

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

Police detained Tanık, chief editor of the news website Rotahaber, in the western province of Yalova on January 17, 2017, according to press reports. The following day, an Istanbul court ordered him to be jailed pending trial as part of Turkey’s sweeping purge of suspected followers of exiled preacher Fethullah Gülen, according to press reports. The government accuses Gülen of maintaining a terrorist organization and "parallel state structure" (or FETÖ/PDY, as the government calls it) within Turkey that it blames for orchestrating a failed July 15, 2016, military coup.

Tanık is on trial with several other journalists arrested after the failed attempted coup in July 2016. All but one of them 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 cited as evidence against Tanık content published on his website about an anonymous pro-Gülen Twitter whistleblower known as @fuatavni, and his account with Bank Asya, which the government alleged to be a Gülenist institution.

When the trial started in March 2017, an Istanbul court ordered Tanık and four of his co-accused to be detained for the duration of the trial, according to news reports.

Tanık was being held in Silivri Prison in Istanbul.

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