Necmiye Alpay is a renowned linguist, writer and a member of the Editorial Advisory Board of the shuttered pro-Kurdish Özgür Gündem newspaper.
Authorities issued an arrest warrant for Alpay as part of an investigation targeting Özgür Gündem, which was temporarily closed down with a court order on August 16, 2016 and subsequently shuttered permanently with an emergency decree. On August 31, 2016, Alpay arrived at the Istanbul Courthouse to give her statement to the prosecutor in charge of the investigation. According to news reports, she denied terrorism accusations, saying that she always rejected violence and terrorism, that her role as an Editorial Advisory Board member was purely symbolic and that she supported Özgür Gündem daily because she thought this would help resolution of the Kurdish issue and end clashes and deaths. After taking her statement, the prosecutor referred Alpay to Istanbul 8th Criminal Judgeship of Peace, demanding her be detained pending trial. She was remanded by the court on the same day.
An indictment subsequently prepared by Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office formally charged Alpay and eight others, including three in pre-trial detention like Alpay, with “membership in an armed terrorist organization”, “disrupting the state’s unity” and “terrorism propaganda,” seeking an aggravated life sentence and an additional prison term of up to 17.5 years for each.
On November 23, 2016, Istanbul 23rd High Criminal Court ruled for release of Alpay and novelist Aslı Erdoğan, another member of the Özgür Gündem Editorial Advisory Board and one of the four suspects held in pre-trial detention, in connection with the charge of “disrupting the state’s unity” on the grounds of lack of sufficient evidence indicating that the said crime was committed. But they remained imprisoned as the court ruled to keep them in pre-trial detention in connection with the charge of “membership in a terrorist organization.”
On December 29, 2016, Alpay, Erdoğan and Zana (Bilir) Kaya, the editor-in-chief of Özgür Gündem, were released following a court hearing. The fourth suspect held in pre-trial detention, Responsible Managing Editor of Özgür Gündem İnan Kızılkaya, was ordered jailed pending trial.
On June 22, 2017, at the end of the fourth hearing of trial, Istanbul 23rd High Criminal Court ruled to lift a travel ban on Alpay and Erdoğan.