Lale Sarıibrahimoğlu (Kemal), a veteran defense reporter and a former columnist with the Zaman daily, was detained on 17 July 2016 in a post-coup investigation into Zaman’s former writers and employes. She was one of 47 Zaman columnists and employees who was wanted for membership in “FETÖ/PDY”, the name given to the Fethullah Gülen network by Turkish authorities.
On July 30, Sarıibrahimoğlu, along with former Zaman columnists Ali Bulaç, Şahin Alpay, Mustafa Ünal, Nuriye Ural and Ahmet Turan Alkan, were jailed pending trial as per a decision of the İstanbul 4th Criminal Judgeship of Peace.
On October 12, 2016 she was released after a regular detention review by the 10th Criminal Judgeship of Piece along with Ural. Both were let go under judicial control measures.
On April 24, 2017, an indictment into 30 suspects, including Sarıibrahimoğlu and other former Zaman writers and employees, was accepted by the 13th High Criminal Court. The indictment accuses the suspects of “attempting to overthrow the constitutional order,” attempting to abolish the Parliament or render it unable to perform its duties,” and “attempting to overthrow the government of the Republic of Turkey or render it unable to perform its duties,” charges that carry three life terms without the possibility of parole, and an additional term of maximum 15 years on the charge of “membership in a terrorist organization.”
The indictment accuses Sarıibrahimoğlu on the basis of the paragraph “I find it dangerous that ordinary citizens are still fearful of being blacklisted by the state over their views or beliefs… this can only happen in communist countries or in underdeveloped dictatorships,” taken from an article by her published on January 18, 2014.
According to the indictment, “The excerpts provided from the articles of columnists working for FETÖ/PDY media outlets have not been tweezed out; they cannot be taken as metaphors or analogies given the circumstances and the historical perspective; they are not only opposing the government and even in articles where there is no visible element of crime, the defendants have used expressions that violate the rights of state authorities and agencies beyond limits of freedom of expression, and it has been understood that by doing so, they have served the purpose of the organization.”
Sarıibrahimoğlu and the other Zaman columnists and executives appeared before a court on September 18 – 19, 2017 and presented their defense statements in a courtroom on the campus of the Silivri Prison Complex.
Sarıibrahimoğlu, who was released earlier on judicial control, attended the session via video-conferencing system SEGBİS. Her testimony was left to the next session, due to the high number of defendants.
Sarıibrahimoğlu gave her defense statement at the second hearing, held on December 8, 2017. She rejected accusations and said she was punished throughout her career because of her steadfast opposition to military intervention in politics and tutelage, which, she said, was a reason why she was before the court as a defendant.
Three imprisoned defendants were released at the end of the hearing while the court ruled to keep an international ban on defendants who are not in jail, including Sarıibrahimoğlu, in place.
The next hearing in the trial will be held on April 5, 2018.