Nazlı Ilıcak appears before court in first hearing of “espionage” case; four more Özgürlükçü Demokrasi journalists jailed 

Imprisoned journalist Nazlı Ilıcak appeared before the 26th High Criminal Court of Istanbul on April 9, 2018, for the first hearing of a new trial in which she is facing life imprisonment on “espionage” charges on account of a newspaper column she wrote in 2015.

Ilıcak gave her statement at the hearing via the courtroom video-conferencing system SEGBİS from the Bakırköy Women’s Prison in Istanbul, where she has been imprisoned since July 2016, first in pretrial detention, and since February 16 as a convict in the case in which she and five others — including the brothers Ahmet and Mehmet Altan — were handed down aggravated life sentences for “attempting to overthrow the constitutional order.”

The new case against Ilıcak, opened in January, concerns a newspaper column by Ilıcak, published on January 2, 2015, in the shuttered Bugün daily and titled “Askerî İstihbarat ve Tahşiyeciler” (The Military Intelligence and Tahşiyeciler).

The indictment, issued by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, accuses Ilıcak of “Disclosing confidential information crucial to state security for espionage purposes” under Article 330/1 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK).

In her defense statement on Monday, Ilıcak told the court that the information about the group called Tahşiyeciler that she included in her article was already available to the public in social media and for that reason the information that constitutes the basis of accusation in the indictment was not classified information, adding that for this reason it was not information crucial to the security of the state either.

Also noting that a military prosecutor had already questioned her about the matter, Ilıcak said she had given all the information she had on the subject to the military prosecutor. She added that she had explained to the military prosecutor that she had taken the information from a certain Twitter account but that she had not known who that Twitter account belonged to or for what reason that Twitter account had sent her the said information.

Ilıcak said that the document forwarded to her contained information that the Tahşiyeciler group had ties with al Qaeda. “Since al Qaeda was a threat to national security, I wrote about the information in my column, believing there is public good in the document that was forwarded to me,” Ilıcak told the court, adding: “In my article I wrote that these people were dangerous and that for those people to be released just because they were framed by FETÖ [Fethullahist Terrorist Organization] was wrong.”

Ilıcak requested the charge against her to be dropped due to the statute of limitations in the Press Law.

Ilıcak’s lawyer said the journalist was not guilty and requested that the charges are dropped.

The court ruled to send the case file to the prosecutor for his final opinion and postponed the trial to May 23.

Özgürlükçü Demokrasi editors jailed pending trial 

Three editors and one staff member of the pro-Kurdish newspaper Özgürlükçü Demokrasi were jailed pending trial on April 10 by an Istanbul court on the charge of “membership in a terrorist organization.”

For the full story, click here.

Former Zaman reporter Emre Soncan handed down prison sentence 

An Istanbul court on April 10 sentenced imprisoned journalist Emre Soncan, a former defense reporter for the shuttered Zaman daily, to 7.5 years in prison for “membership in a terrorist organization.”

Soncan appeared at the final hearing of the case, overseen by the 25th High Criminal Court of Istanbul, via the courtroom video-conferencing system SEGBİS. The trial was an offshoot of the case publicly known as the “FETÖ media trial,” in which Soncan and 28 others faced “membership in a terrorist group” charges. Soncan’s case file was separated from that case during its hearing on February 22-23 to be merged with another case file against the journalist.

The accusations in the indictment were based on Soncan’s social media posts and the journalist depositing cash into his Bank Asya account during the period when FETÖ leader Fethullah Gülen instructed that members of his network deposit funds to Bank Asya.

Soncan denied all accusations and requested his acquittal.

Announcing its verdict, the court initially convicted Soncan to nine years in prison for “membership in an armed terrorist organization.” The court reduced the sentence to 7 years and six months taking into account his “good conduct during the proceedings” and ruled for the continuation of his imprisonment.

20 former TRT employees taken into custody on “FETÖ” allegations

Twenty former employees of the Turkish state broadcaster TRT were taken into custody in police operations in five provinces across Turkey as part of ongoing “Fethullahist Terrorist Organization” investigations by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office.

The names of the employees and the positions they held at the TRT were unclear. The state-run Anadolu news agency reported on April 8 that the detentions were part of 52 separate FETÖ operations conducted in 33 provinces across Turkey in the first week of April.

Three academics handed down prison sentences for signing peace petition

Three of the academics who signed the Academics for Peace declaration in 2016 were each handed down prison sentences on April 9 for “conducting propaganda for a terrorist organization.”

The 32nd High Criminal Court of Istanbul convicted academics İrfan Emre Kovankaya, E.K. and Sharo İbrahim Garip to 1 year and 3 months in prison each. The court suspended the sentences.

A total of 1,123 academics had signed the Academics for Peace petition, which called for an end to human rights abuses in Turkey’s Southeastern provinces during the period of extensive curfews imposed on the region in 2015. More than 150 of those academics are facing trial on “conducting propaganda for a terrorist organization” charge for signing the petition.

List of jailed journalists updated 

Upon the imprisonment of three editors and one staff member of the Özgürlükçü Demokrasi newspaper on April 10, the number of journalists in prison in Turkey became at least 161. The detailed list can reached here.