24 September 2019:
“RedHack trial” against 6 journalists adjourned until February
The “RedHack Trial,” where six journalists stand accused of “disseminating propaganda for a terrorist organization,” “hindrance or destruction of a data processing system,” “aiding a terrorist organization without being its member” and “terrorist group membership” for their coverage of the emails of Minister Berat Albayrak leaked by RedHack, resumed on 24 September 2019 at an Istanbul court.
This was the eighth hearing of journalists Derya Okatan, Tunca Öğreten, Mahir Kanaat, Eray Sargın, Metin Yoksu and Ömer Çelik. Defendants Tunca Öğreten, Mahir Kanaat and Eray Sargın were in attendance in the courtroom along with their lawyers. Minister Albayrak’s lawyer Ahmet Özel, who had submitted a letter of excuse, was not present. P24 and the Turkey representative of Reporters Without Borders (RSF) were among those who monitored the hearing.
Due to the presiding judge being on leave, judge Barış Öztürk was in charge instead, announcing the arrival of the long-awaited expert report confirming that all the devices confiscated from the defendants had been fully examined. Also informing that the two separate court panels of the 29th High Criminal Court of Istanbul had been merged, Öztürk said that judges from the other panel would now be serving on this trial’s panel.
The presiding judge then asked the defendants for their statements concerning the digital forensics report.
Addressing the court first, Tunca Öğreten recounted how he was arrested over the allegation of being a member of DHKP-C (the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front) but after no evidence to support this claim could be found, he was accused of “aiding a terrorist organization without being its member” and “disclosing state secrets” instead. Lastly Öğreten asked for the return of his digital devices and the lifting of his international travel ban.
Addressing the court next, Kanaat and Sargın also requested the return of their digital devices, the judicial control measures to be lifted and to be held exempt from appearing in court.
Lawyer Özcan Kılıç, representing Metin Yoksu and Ömer Çelik, told the court that his client Çelik could not attend the hearing because he had just received the news that his father had passed away. Kılıç requested the return of the digital devices, including the cellphone of Çelik’s father, which was confiscated during Çelik’s arrest.
Other defense lawyers also asked their clients to be held exempt from appearing in court, the return of the digital equipment and the lifting of the judicial control measures imposed on their clients.
Presiding judge Öztürk told those present that the court would be willing to grant temporary permission in case the defendants applied to attend the like of a seminar or a wedding abroad.
The panel then went into a five-minute for recess to deliberate on its interim ruling.
Issuing its interim ruling at the end of the hearing, the court ordered the continuation of the international travel ban imposed on all six journalists and rejected the request for the defendants to be held exempt from appearing in court. The court also ordered for the confiscated digital equipment to be returned to the defendants and adjourned the trial until 6 February 2020 to allow time for the examination of the digital forensic report.
The prosecution requested the continuation of the judicial control measures imposed on the journalists. Addressing the court following the prosecutor, the journalists requested for their digital equipment confiscated during the investigation to be returned, their international travel ban to be lifted, and to be granted exemption from personal attendance in court. In its interim ruling at the end of the hearing, the court rejected the requests and adjourned the trial until 16 April, awaiting an expert report concerning the digital equipment.
13 September 2018:
18 January 2017:
An Istanbul court last night arrested two journalists and a newspaper employee for allegedly "being members of a [terrorist] organization," Bianet reported. Tunca Öğreten, a freelance journalist and former editor of the news website Dikenin Istanbul; Ömer Çelik, news editor of Dihaber in Diyarbakır; and Mahir Kanaat, the accounting director for the daily Birgün, have been detained since December 25, as part of an investigation into leaked emails of Turkey's Energy Minister Berat Albayrak, who is also the president's son-in-law, according to reports. Three journalists detained alongside them--Metin Yoksu, a reporter for Dihaber; Derya Okatan, from the Etkin News Agency (ETHA) in Ankara; and Eray Sargın, a news editor for Yolculuk in Istanbul--were released under judicial control, reports said.
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."
The detention periods for six journalists detained on December 25 were extended to 30 days, independent news outlet Bianet reported. Ömer Çelik, Metin Yoksu, Derya Okatan, Eray Saygın, Mahir Kanaat, and Tunca Öğreten were arrested for alleged connections to Redhack, a group claiming to be behind the leaked emails of a Turkish minister. The journalists had reportedly been denied access to a lawyer for five days. Lawyer Özcan Kılıç told Bianet that he was finally given access to Çelik, Okatan, and Yoksu today, adding that Okatan is on a hunger strike in protest of the charges.