Court rules for the continuation of Kılıç’s house arrest, imposed on the journalist following her release from pretrial detention in February

An Istanbul court on May 24 convicted Nur Ener Kılınç, an editor for the Yeni Asya newspaper, of “terrorist group membership” and sentenced the journalist to 7.5 years in prison.

Kılınç, who has been under house arrest since her release from pretrial detention in February, and her lawyer were present at the hearing, monitored by P24. 

This was the sixth hearing in the case, overseen by the 26th High Criminal Court of Istanbul. Kılınç was arrested and jailed in March 2017 on the allegation of using the encrypted messaging application ByLock, purported to be used exclusively by the members of the Fethullah Gülen network. The Turkish government accuses the Gülen movement of being the perpetrators of the July 15, 2016, coup attempt. 

During the May 24 hearing, Kılınç gave her final defense statement in response to the prosecutor’s final opinion of the case, submitted during the previous hearing. The prosecutor sought imprisonment between 7.5 and 15 years for Kılınç on the charge of “membership in a terrorist organization” as per Article 314/2 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) and Article 5 of the Anti-Terror Law.

In her defense statement, Kılınç responded to the allegations against her. Kılınç said she lived for two years during her time as a university student in one of Gülen network’s communal apartments that used to serve as dormitories for students. “I had applied to a state-run student dorm, but since they could not offer accommodation, I had to live in that apartment instead. I moved out of the apartment following the period of December 17-25 [a series of corruption investigations in 2013 that targeted government officials].”

Kılınç also denied the allegations in a plaintiff’s testimony previously heard by the court. “This person has given my name because I am a journalist; because she knew my name through the press,” Kılınç told the court.

“I have no membership in any organization,” Kılınç said as she concluded her statement, adding: “I am not guilty. I request my acquittal.”

Following Kılınç, her lawyer Mustafa Özbek also made his concluding remarks. He told the court that the evidence collected for the case file showed that his client was not guilty. Adding that there were numerous errors in the ByLock records in the case file, Özbek requested for Kılınç’s acquittal.

Following the defense statements, the court announced its verdict, convicting Kılınç of “membership in a terrorist organization” and sentenced the journalist to 7.5 years in prison. The court ruled for the continuation of Kılınç’s house arrest pending the appeal process.