Famous Turkish singer and columnist Atilla Taş was sent back to prison on Friday as a regional appeals court upheld a local court’s ruling to imprison him for three years, one month and 15 days over Gülen links. He was writing daily columns for the Meydan daily, an outlet affiliated with the Gülen movement, which was accused of orchestrating a coup attempt in July 2016, although it denies any involvement.
As part of a post-coup crackdown targeting followers and supporters of the movement, Taş was arrested in September 2016 on charges of “aiding a terrorist organization without membership in it.” After 14 months of pretrial detention, he was convicted by the court but released pending appeal.
Taş, who was also a member of the party council of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), produced a standup show after his release.
9 November 2018:
ournalist back in custody after appeal hearing
Journalist back in custody after appeal hearing
Taş was first detained on August 31, 2016 and released on October 15, 2017 pending trial, CPJ documented. A court on March 8, 2018, sentenced him to 37 months and 15 days in prison for "knowingly and willingly aiding a [terrorist] organization," alongside other defendants, but he was released for time served, according to reports at the time. Murat Aksoy, a journalist and co-defendant in the trial was handed a 25-month sentence for the same charge as Taş, according to reports.
Lawyers representing the journalists told CPJ last month that they will take the case to the national Supreme Court of Appeals.
Yaman Akdeniz, a lawyer for Taş, told the independent news website Bianet this week that the journalist had already served 14 months in prison, but needs to serve at least two years, four months, and five days, before being eligible for release. Turkish law shortens prison terms by two thirds, meaning Taş would be eligible to apply for release on probation by January 2019. Akdeniz said that the lawyers will appeal the arrest separately. Taş is serving his time at Silivri prison in Istanbul, according to a November 12 tweet by Akdeniz.
Aksoy, who was also released on time served, said this week on social media that he received a notice from a prosecutor's office. Aksoy tweeted on November 13that he and his lawyer will see a prosecutor in 10 days to turn himself in, adding, "We will see what happens." Source
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.
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
The news websites Bianet and Artı Gerçek reported that Ahmet Memiş, news coordinator for the news website Rotahaber; Abdullah Kılıç, a columnist for Meydan newspaper, formerly with Zaman and Radikal newspapers and Habertürk TV; Atilla Taş, a Meydan columnist and former pop singer; Ali Akkuş, former editor of the newspaper Zaman; and Bayram Kaya, a journalist for Zaman, all denied the terrorism charges against them yesterday and stressed that they did nothing but practice journalism and exercise their right to free speech.
10 October 2016:
Atilla Taş, a former singer and a columnist who was put in jail after a massive post-coup purge in Turkey got married in prison on Monday.
Taş, whose tweets went viral, had been offered a job writing for the critical Meydan daily, where he penned sharp criticism of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government. The newspaper was shut down along with 160 other media outlets after a failed coup on July 15, and many of its columnists were targeted.
Taş (45) was married to Meltem Güler in Silivri Prison. He has been in jail since Sept. 3 on charges of terrorism and coup plotting, with no evidence presented, like tens of thousands of other people in Turkey.
31 August 2016:
Prosecutors on September 2 ordered journalists Alparslan Akkuş, Rasih Yılmaz, and Ömer Şahin, who had been detained in the scope of the same investigation, unconditionally released, and ordered Nurullah Öztürk released on probation, CPJ reportedat the time. On the night of September 2, an Istanbul court ordered Ayhan Şimşek, İskender Yunus Tiryaki, Dinçer Gökçe, and Levent Arap, also detained in the same investigation, released on probation.
The opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet reported Monday that Aksoy denied any connection to the Gülen movement, but that he had taken a job with the closed, pro- Gülenist newspaper Millet only because he could not find another job after having been fired from the pro-government daily newspaper Yeni Şafak. Taş likewise denied having any ties to the Gülenist movement.
"Anybody who criticizes the government is a target," Cumhuriyet quoted Taş as saying.