New indictment against Ömer Çelik included in case file, accusing the journalist of “disseminating propaganda for a terrorist group”
CANSU PİŞKİN, ISTANBUL
The “RedHack trial,” where six journalists stand accused of “disseminating propaganda for a terrorist organization,” “hindrance or destruction of a data processing system,” “aiding a terrorist organization without being its member” and “terrorist group membership” for their coverage concerning the emails of Minister Berat Albayrak leaked by RedHack, resumed on 16 April at an Istanbul court.
P24 monitored the seventh hearing of journalists Derya Okatan, Tunca Öğreten, Mahir Kanaat, Eray Sargın, Metin Yoksu and Ömer Çelik at the 29th High Criminal Court of Istanbul. Turkish Journalists Union (TGS) Chairman Gökhan Durmuş and the editor-in-chief of Evrensel newspaper, Fatih Polat, also monitored the hearing.
Defendants Okatan, Öğreten, Kanaat, Sargın and their lawyers were in attendance. Yoksu addressed the court from Batman via the courtroom video-conferencing system SEGBİS. Çelik, on the other hand, could not attend because all the SEGBİS connections were occupied at the Diyarbakır Courthouse.
Ömer Çelik faces new indictment
The presiding judge announced during the hearing that a case file relating to the investigation launched against Çelik in 2015 by the Diyarbakır Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office has been merged with the present case and a new indictment has been issued despite Diyarbakır Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office’s request to drop charges against Çelik. In the new indictment included in the case file, Çelik is accused of “disseminating propaganda for a terrorist group” for his social media posts in 2015.
The presiding judge also announced that the court has received the expert report on the digital equipment confiscated from the defendants.
The prosecutor then requested additional time for defendants and lawyers to examine the expert report. Also stating that the legal status of the defendants has not changed, the prosecutor requested the continuation of judicial control measures imposed on the defendants.
The defendants said that they were on trial for their journalistic work and requested the judicial control measures imposed on them to be lifted and their digital devices to be returned.
Addressing the court, Özcan Kılıç, the lawyer representing journalists Çelik and Yoksu, pointed out that the evidence in the new indictment was from 2015, as in the present case file. Kılıç requested for his clients to be held exempt from appearing in court.
Ali Deniz Ceylan, the lawyer representing Kanaat, addressing the court in relation to the digital forensic report added to the case file, said that according to the report, “it has been determined that the documents that constitute the basis for the charges were downloaded from the Internet and therefore the legal basis for this trial has collapsed.”
No removal of judiciary control measures
In its interim ruling announced at the end of the hearing, the court rejected the request to lift the judiciary control measures imposed on the defendants. The court ruled to return the digital devices of the defendants once the expert report confirms that all the devices have been fully examined.
Accepting Yoksu and Okatan’s requests to be held exempt from appearing in court, the court rejected the same request from Ömer Çelik on the grounds that he had yet to make his defense statement in relation to the new case file.
The presiding judge concluded the trial announcing the decision to write a memo to the Diyarbakır Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office asking about the outcome of a new investigation that has been launched into Ömer Çelik and adjourned the trial until 24 September.