Oğuz Güven, the former editor-in-chief of the online edition of secularist opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet, was arrested early on 12 May 2017 in a police raid of his home in İstanbul in connection with the headline of a news story shared on Cumhuriyet’s Twitter account.
The prosecutor maintained that the tweeted headline of the news report, which was about the death of a public prosecutor in a traffic accident, “discredited those who conduct the fight against Fetullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ).”
Public Prosecutor Mustafa Alper died on May 10 when a truck crushed into his car in an intersection in the western province of Denizli. His driver was also killed in the same accident.
On 15 May, Güven appeared before a judge, who ruled to jail him pending trial on charges of “propaganda for a terrorist organization.”
Güven was subsequently indicted with “terrorism propaganda” and “printing or broadcasting publications of terrorist groups,” charges carrying a prison term of 2.5 years to 10.5 years.
The Istanbul 28th High Criminal Court, which received the indictment, ruled to release Güven upon formally accepting the indictment. The court cited “the nature of the crime attributed to the suspect, the suspect’s attitude towards the process of investigation, the length of prison term sought by the prosecutor, the time he has already spent in prison, lack of suspicion that he might flee and his residence and employment status” as grounds for the decision to release Güven.
Güven presented his defense statement at the first hearing of the trial, held on September 14, 2017. Denying the accusations, Güven said the headline had not been meant to be offensive and that the tweet about the story was deleted less than a minute after it was posted.
At the next hearing on 17 October, the prosecutor demanded up to 12 years and nine months in jail for Güven on charges of “spreading propaganda for a terrorist organization” and “publishing statements of terrorist organizations.”
The court convicted Güven of “FETÖ propaganda” and “publishing statements of the PKK terrorist organization” and sentenced him to a total of three years and one month in jail at the final hearing in the trial, held on 21 November.
Güven remains free pending appeal.
Güven is also charged with “insulting the president” in a separate case, launched in connection with a report published on Cumhuriyet’s website on 10 March 2016. The indictment, prepared in November 2017, accuses Güven of “using a derogatory language about the president.”
The story was based on another story published by the Washington Post about a Microsoft app, Fetch, that can identify and classify dogs by breeds on the basis of user photos and can do similar readings for human beings as well.
Güven told the prosecutor in charge of the investigation that the story was based on Fetch readings of photos of several world leaders and that the Cumhuriyet online story did not contain any word insulting any of those leaders.
The first hearing in the case will be held on 11 April 2018 at the Ankara 15th Criminal Court of First Instance.