The 16th Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Appeals overturns Akkuş’s conviction and orders the journalist’s release under a travel ban. However, the high court has yet to formally issue its judgment
Ali Akkuş, the former news director of the shuttered Zaman daily, who was among 25 defendants handed down prison sentences in 2018 in the trial publicly known as the “FETÖ media trial,” has been released from prison based on a Supreme Court of Appeals ruling dated 13 March 2020.
The 16th Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Appeals overturned Akkuş’s conviction and ordered the journalist’s release under an international travel ban. However, the high court has yet to formally issue its judgment concerning Akkuş’s appeal.
Akkuş was among 12 journalists sentenced to 7 years and 6 months in prison on the charge of “membership of a terrorist group” at the end of the trial in March 2018. Eleven other defendants in the case were sentenced to 6 years and 3 months on the same charge. Eighteen of Akkuş’s co-defendants are still behind bars, waiting for the Supreme Court of Appeals to review the appeal against their convictions.
The General Prosecutor of the Supreme Court of Appeals had presented their opinion of the case more than a year ago, on 10 December 2018, asking the 16th Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Appeals to uphold all convictions in the case.
The high court has yet to review the appeals against the convictions of Abdullah Kılıç, Bayram Kaya, Bünyamin Köseli, Cemal Azmi Kalyoncu, Cihan Acar, Habip Güler, Halil İbrahim Balta, Hanım Büşra Erdal, Hüseyin Aydın, Yakup Çetin and Gökçe Fırat Çulhaoğlu, who were each sentenced to 6 years and 3 months; and Ahmet Memiş, Muhammed Sait Kuloğlu, Mustafa Erkan Acar, Mutlu Çölgeçen, Oğuz Usluer, Seyid Kılıç, Ufuk Şanlı, Ünal Tanık, Yetkin Yıldız and Cuma Ulus, who were each sentenced to 7 years and 6 months in prison.
Journalists who were sentenced to 6 years and 3 months are expected to be released later this month, by which time they will have completed the portion of their sentences that has to be served in prison.
Journalists Bünyamin Köseli, Cihan Acar and Halil İbrahim Balta, who have all been released pending trial during the course of the trial, will have to return to prison if the Supreme Court of Appeals upholds their convictions.