26 free expression groups urge acquittal of Özgür Gündem guest editors in Turkey

From left: Ahmet Nesin, Şebnem Korur Fincancı, Erol Önderoğlu.

The below-named freedom of expression organisations denounce the lengthy judicial harassment suffered by Reporters Without Borders representative and IPI member Erol Önderoğlu, Turkey’s Human Rights Foundation Chair Şebnem Korur Fincancı and journalist Ahmet Nesin and call for their full acquittal at the hearing on April 15, 2019, when a verdict is expected.

The three defendants are charged with “engaging in propaganda for a terrorist organisation”, “incitement to commit a crime” and “praising criminal activities and those engaged in them” for standing in as guest editors in the “Editors-in-Chief on Watch” solidarity campaign for the shuttered pro-Kurdish daily Özgür Gündem.

We further denounce the ongoing detention and prosecution of scores of journalists in Turkey as an autocratic attempt to silence all dissenting voices and to prevent independent journalists from carrying out their profession.

We offer our support and solidarity to our colleagues Önderoğlu, Korur Fincancı and Nesin, who have been subjected to a trial lasting almost three years, and we call on the Turkish government to cease such oppression of journalists, academics and writers.

“This case is about an act of collegial solidarity that should never have resulted in criminal proceedings. Turkey must cease violating the rights of journalists to disseminate the news and of the public to receive balanced reporting,”, Caroline Stockford, Turkey Advocacy Coordinator at the International Press Institute, said.

«By targeting prominent human rights defenders, the authorities aim to decimate what little remains of civil society in Turkey. They will not succeed. We stand united with our colleagues and insist that this relentless judicial harassment cease,» said Sarah Clarke, Head of Europe and Central Asia at ARTICLE 19.

«When the very act of solidarity for repressed journalism is criminalised in Turkey, international solidarity for our colleagues becomes even more crucial.” – Nora Wehofsits, Advocacy Officer at the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF)

«International public opinion should know that Turkey is not merely Erdogan’s Turkey. Like Erol Önderoğlu, Şebnem Korur Fincancı and Ahmet Nesin, there are many people and courageous initiatives that need to be heard about and be supported. This is why providing the international public with continuous and in-depth coverage on Turkey is so important today», Chiara Sighele, OBC Transeuropa.

“We stand united in support of Erol Önderoğlu, Şebnem Korur Fincancı and Ahmet Nesin. We promise that we will do our utmost to support the journalists and to put pressure on the Turkish government to cease the prosecution and detention of journalists“, said Kjersti Løken Stavrum, Vice President of Norwegian PEN.

Özgür Gündem has long been targeted by Turkish authorities for its journalism. Last month the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that Turkey had violated the right to freedom of expression in systematically bringing terrorism-related criminal cases against Özgür Gündem’s owner, Ali Gürbüz, between 2004 and 2005.

ARTICLE 19
Articolo 21
Association of European Journalists
CRNI (Cartoonists Rights Network International)
CPJ (Committee to Protect Journalists)
Danish PEN
ECPMF (European Centre for Press and Media Freedom)
EFJ (European Federation of Journalists)
English PEN
Freedom House
Front Line Defenders
German PEN
IFJ (International Federation of Journalists)
IPI (International Press Institute)
Norwegian PEN
OBC Transeuropa
PEN America
PEN Belgium/Flanders
PEN Canada
PEN Germany
PEN International
PEN Netherlands
P24 (Platform for Independent Journalism)
SEEMO (South East Europe Media Organisation)
Swedish PEN
Wales PEN Cymru

Resolution: Turkey: The myth of domestic legal remedy

Nearly 50 MPs join IPI-led resolution calling for restoration of rule of law and release of Turkey’s journalists

A total of 47 MEPs and 13 press freedom and free expression organizations led by the International Press Institute (IPI) have joined a resolution underscoring the lack of effective domestic legal remedies for journalists targeted in Turkey’s media crackdown.

The resolution follows a roundtable held under Chatham House Rules on January 29, 2019, at the European Parliament on “Turkey: The Myth of Domestic Legal Remedy. Organized by IPI and MEP Rebecca Harms, the event was attended by MEPs, representatives of the European Commission, the Council of Europe, the European Court of Human Rights and representatives of human rights NGOs as well as journalists and legal experts from Turkey. The roundtable examined the lack of independence and impartiality of Turkey’s judiciary and the failure of Europe-wide institutions to acknowledge to inability of Turkish courts to provide an effective remedy for rights violations.

IPI research shows that over 150 journalists in Turkey remain behind bars, many of whom have suffered egregious violations of their right to a fair trial.

The resolution calls on Turkey to uphold domestic and international guarantees for freedom of expression and personal liberty and security as well as basic rights of defendants in criminal proceedings, including to the presumption of innocence, to appear physically before a judge in a timely manner and to receive a fair hearing conducted by an independent and impartial judicial panel. It also urges Turkey to free all journalists held due to their work.

IPI Turkey Advocacy Coordinator Caroline Stockford said:

“This resolution, which is supported by numerous MEPs and which highlights the severe challenges that Turkey’s journalists face in exercising and defending their basic rights, comes at a crucial time.  We invite Turkey to act upon these recommendations so as to restore press freedom and respect the principles of freedom of expression and the right to disseminate the news.”

RESOLUTION ON INEFFECTIVE DOMESTIC LEGAL REMEDY FOR TURKEY’S JOURNALISTS

The lack of visible improvements in freedom of the media in Turkey since the state of emergency was lifted on 18 July 2018 is of great concern. The mass arrests, detention and sentencing of Turkey’s journalists continue to be used as methods to stifle dissenting voices across society.

According to data from the International Press Institute (IPI), 155 journalists and media executives were in prison as of 29 January 2019. This figure makes Turkey the country with the highest number of imprisoned journalists in the world.

Points of concern to the signatories of this resolution are, among others:

  • the lack of independence and impartiality of the judiciary in Turkey;
  • the lack of a speedy recourse to justice both domestically and before the European Court of Human Rights;
  • the practice in Turkey of criminalizing journalism by committing journalists to lengthy pretrial detention;
  • the  slow production of indictments in journalist cases in Turkey and the use of journalistic material as evidence to convict journalists; and
  • the failure of public prosecutors in Turkey to exhaustively prove the legal criteria in place to establish the charge of “membership of a terrorist organization” in the case of journalists.

RECOMMENDATIONS

To the Government of Turkey:

  1. Turkey must fulfil its obligations under national and international law to protect journalists’ rights
  • to liberty and security;
  • to freedom of expression;
  • to the right to receive and disseminate the news; and
  • to a fair trial including:
    • the presumption of innocence;
    • the right to appear physically before a judge in a timely manner; and
    • the right to receive a fair hearing within a reasonable timeframe, conducted by an independent and impartial judicial panel.

2. The judiciary in Turkey must require public prosecutors to produce indictments in a timely manner, especially in cases where the defendant is held in pretrial detention. Evidence in indictments against journalists must be required to be proven beyond reasonable doubt of criminal activity.

3. Turkey must release all journalists held in pretrial detention in whose cases journalistic evidence is cited as proof of criminal activity.

4. All journalists imprisoned on unsubstantiated allegations or as a result of the practice of journalism should be immediately freed.

5. The Turkish judiciary should take all steps to fulfil its obligation to ensure that rulings in freedom of expression cases are in line with decisions by the European Court of Human Rights and relevant international standards, especially as regards the right to personal freedom and the right to a fair trial.

6. Turkey must ensure that journalists’ right to freedom of expression; their right to engage in critical, well-founded reporting in the public interest; and their right to disseminate the news are protected in order to restore the plurality of voices and alternative news sources for the people of Turkey.

7. The Public Advertising Authority (Basın İlan Kurumba) must ensure that public advertising revenue is given out, in accordance with its own guidelines, to pro-government and independent media alike. It must not deprive the few remaining independent printed daily newspapers in Turkey of much-needed state advertising revenue.

8. Turkey must fulfil its responsibility to provide journalists with the personal security to which they are entitled under the constitution and allow them to carry out their work without fear of arbitrary arrest or detention, and must condemn any threats to journalists’ safety expressed in public by officers of the state or private persons.

9. The Reform Action Group formed of ministers of state in Turkey is invited to act upon these recommendations as they undertake the impending reform of Turkey’s judiciary.

To regional actors:

10. European institutions and decision-makers should reinforce these recommendations in their discussions with Turkish ministers in 2019.

SIGNED:

MEPs:

Ana Gomes, S&D
Ana Miranda, Greens/EFA
Angela Rosa Vallina de la Noval, GUE/NGL
Anna Maria Corazza Bildt, EPP
Anne-Marie Mineur, GUE/NGL
Antanas Guoga, EPP
António Marinho e Pinto, ALDE
Barbara Lochbihler, Greens/EFA
Barbara Spinelli, GUE/NGL
Benedek Javor, Greens/EFA
Boris Zala, S&D
Brando Benifei, S&D
Carolina Punset, ALDE
Costas Mavrides, S&D
David Martin, S&D
Dennis de Jong, GUE/NGL
Dimitrios Papadimoulis, GUE/NGL
Eva Joly, Greens/EFA
Georgi Pirinski, S&D
Helmut Scholz, GUE/NGL
Isabella de Monte, S&D
Jean Lambert, Greens/EFA
Jordi Solé, Greens/EFA
José Bové, Greens/EFA
Josef Weidenholzer, S&D
Jose Inacio Faria, EPP
Josep-Maria Terricabras, Greens/EFA
Julie Ward, S&D
Knut Fleckenstein, S&D
Kostas Chrysogonos, GUE/NGL
Luke Ming Flanagan, GUE/NGL
Margrete Auken, Greens/EFA
Maria Grapini, S&D
Maria Heubuch, Greens/EFA
Mark Demesmaeker, ECR
Maximilien Dardel, GUE/NGL
Merja Kyllönen, GUE/NGL
Monica Macovei, ECR
Petra Kammerevert, S&D
Petras Austrevicius, ALDE
Rebecca Harms, Greens/EFA
Richard Sulík, ECR
Sabine Verheyen, EPP
Tanja Fajon, S&D
Theresa Griffin, S&D
Tilly Metz, Greens/EFA
Vallina de la Noval, GUE/NGL

Other/international organizations
Simone Susskind (Deputy, Brussels Parliament)
The International Press Institute (IPI)
Article 19
Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)
Euro Med Rights
European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF)
European Federation of Journalists (EFJ)
Journalists’ Union of Turkey (TGS)
Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA)
PEN Germany
PEN International
PEN Norway
Wales PEN Cymru

2019 Tyrkia: Nedim Türfent

‘No matter what the price or consequence might be, we will never compromise from the magical creations of writing and of the written word. We would like to repeat once again our gratitude to PEN members, who have stood by us on this path.’ Nedim Türfent

A news editor and reporter at the pro-Kurdish Dicle News Agency (DİHA), Nedim Türfent was arrested on 12 May 2016 after covering clashes between the Turkish army and the armed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the predominantly Kurdish southeast of Turkey. Nedim Türfent spent nearly two years in solidarity confinement, during which time he was transferred to several prisons. In a letter addressed to Turkish columnists and dated 8 May 2017, he reported harrowing detention conditions in his four-meter-long prison cell, where he was denied access to TV, radio, books or newspapers and forced to read ‘the back of detergent boxes’ to pass time. He was formally charged with ‘membership of a terrorist organisation’ and ‘spreading terrorist propaganda’ 10 months after his arrest. Despite clear evidence of flagrant fair trial violations, Nedim Türfent was sentenced to eight years and nine months in prison for ‘membership of a terrorist organisation’ and ‘spreading terrorist propaganda’ on 15 December 2017. While waiting for a ruling on his case, Nedim Türfent spends his time studying Turkish, English and German and writing poetry.

In an open letter to the Turkish Minister of Justice Abdulhamit Gül, Norwegian PEN’s Writers in Prison Committee urges the Turkish authorities to release Nedim Türfent immediately and unconditionally.

*****************************************************

Minister of Justice Abdulhamit Gül
Ministry of Justice
Adalet Bakanlığı
06659 Ankara
Turkey

Oslo, 5th of January, 2019

Dear Sir,

I am writing to you on behalf of Norwegian PENs Committee for Writers in Prison.

On the 15th of December 2018 it was one year since news editor and reporter, Nedim Türfent, was sentenced to eight years and nine months in prison on trumped-up terrorism charges following an unfair trial, during which scores of witnesses said they had been tortured into testifying against him. Prior to his arrest in 2016, Nedim Türfent was covering Turkish military operations in southeast Turkey. He spent almost two years in solidarity confinement in harrowing detention conditions. His sentence was upheld on the 19th of June 2018 and his lawyers have lodged an appeal before the Constitutional Court. Determined to keep writing, Nedim Türfent started composing poetry while detained.

Norwegian PEN believes that Nedim Türfent is being imprisoned solely for the peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression and calls for his immediate and unconditional release.

We are also calling on the Turkish authorities to end the prosecution and detention of journalists simply on the basis of the content of their writing or alleged affiliations, and to immediately release all those held in prison for exercising their rights to freedom of opinion and expression.

Yours sincerely,

Øivind Hånes
author

Member of Writers in Prison Committee
Norwegian PEN

COPY:
The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
The Turkish Embassy in Oslo

24 January: The persecuted - and the situation in Turkey

When:  Thursday 24. January at 19:00 hrs.
Where: Litteraturhuset Oslo

Participants:
Abdullah Bozkurt, President of the Stockholm Centre for Freedom (SCF), former  Ankara bureau chief for Today’s Zaman
Seher Aydar, board member of Solidaritet med Kurdistan and deputy representative for Rødt at the Parliament.
Joakim Parslow, associate professor of Middle East Studies in the Department of Culture Studies and Oriental Languages at the University of Oslo

Moderator: Eugene Schoulgin, author and member of Norwegian PEN’s Turkey Group.

Abdullah Bozkurt is a journalist and author of the book “Turkey Interrupted: Derailing Democracy”. He worked in Today’s Zaman and Muhabir News Agency that was shut down by Turkish government in July 2016. Bozkurt now lives as a political refugee in Stockholm, where he is also the President of the Stockholm Centre for Freedom (SCF), a monitoring group that tracks rights violations in Turkey.

Seher Aydar is board member of Solidaritet med Kurdistan and deputy representative for Rødt at the Parliament.

Joakim Parslow is associate professor of Middle East Studies in the Department of Culture Studies and Oriental Languages at the University of Oslo. His research focuses on legal and governmental thought in the Republic of Turkey.

The seminar will be in English. The seminar is free of charge and open for all.

The program on Facebook

Rapport: Pressefrihet og rettssikkerhet i dagens Tyrkia

 ”Det er en hårfin linje mellom journalistikk og terrorisme”

Turkey’s Media Under Siege (Berlin, November 28) @IPI

Seminar i Berlin 28. november 2018, Haus der Europäischen Union International Press Institute (IPI) inviterte den 28. november i samarbeid med den tyske avisa Die Welt til et nettverksarrangement i Berlin. Seminaret bød på paneldiskusjoner med ledende advokater, journalister og menneskerettighetsaktivister fra Tyrkia og Europa.

Konferansen hadde tittelen UNDER BELEIRING og formålet var å diskutere de skadene og problemene som er oppstått i kjølvannet av unntakstilstanden og påfølgende lovendringer. IPI er en internasjonal organisasjon som arbeider for pressefrihet og uavhengig journalistikk og består av redaktører, journalister og medieaktører fra hele verden. Ved å støtte hverandre og fremme felles verdier, kan man være pådriver for fri flyt av informasjon og nyheter.

Markus Spillmann – nestleder i IPI og mangeårig redaktør av den sveitsiske avisa Neue Zürcher Zeitung – innledet med å presentere et generelt bilde av situasjonen for nyhetsjournalistikk, ytringsfrihet og rettssikkerhet i dagens Tyrkia. Forholdene er som kjent begredelige og blir bare verre. Siden kuppforsøket i juli 2016 har intet mindre enn 53 aviser har blitt lagt ned og 162 journalister sitter fengslet. Uavhengige medier motarbeides med alle midler, og kritiske  journalister som ikke er fengslet har som regel utreiseforbud fra landet. Polariseringen i samfunnet er kolossal. Regimets maksime lyder: De som ikke er med er mot.

Første del av seminaret ble ledet av Caroline Stockford, juridisk koordinator hos IPI i Wien. Under en samtale med en av president Erdoğans nærmeste rådgivere tidligere i år fikk hun følgende beskjed: ”Det er en hårfin linje mellom journalistikk og terrorisme.” Når dette er regjeringens uttalte syn på uavhengig nyhetsformidling, skjønner vi både hvor viktig og hvor farlig journalistikken kan være. Fri flyt av informasjon er livsnødvendig for et demokrati og livsfarlig for makthavere som ønsker å knuse en opposisjon. 90 % av tyrkiske medier kontrolleres i dag av apparatet rundt president Erdoğan. Propagandaen er massiv, og det lille som er igjen av motstand gis stadig verre eksistensvilkår. Distribusjon av nyhetsmedier er også svært vanskelig. Hvordan kan man formidle nyheter og informasjon under slike forhold?

Mustafa Kuleli – generalsekretær i den tyrkiske journalistforeningen – sa at det i praksis har blitt så godt som umulig å drive en fri presse i Tyrkia. Dersom man kritiserer myndighetene blir man raskt svartelistet. Å være journalist har i seg selv blitt farlig og er dessuten en profesjon som ikke lønner seg. Gjennomsnittslønnen for uavhengige journalister ligger i dag på 300 – tre hundre – Euro i måneden. Er det verdt risikoen overfor seg selv og familien? Det har oppstått en ond sirkel som resulterer i stadig dårligere kvalitet på publikasjonene. På tross av dette opplever journalistforeningen en økende medlemsvekst, en trend som har pågått over flere år. Dette gir grunn til en forsiktig optimisme. Spørsmålet man må stille seg er hvordan man kan løse problemene med en stadig dårligere økonomi. Kuleli mener svaret ligger i flere ting, blant annet opplæringsprogrammer for digital publisering, mobilisering av økonomisk støtte fra andre europeiske land, samt ved å bygge en kjerne av lesere utenfor Tyrkias grenser. Man må formidle overfor utlandet at dersom man vil vite hva som foregår i Tyrkia, må man abonnere på digitale publikasjoner laget av uavhengige tyrkiske journalister. Svært mange tyrkere bor i utlandet. Det samlede antallet overstiger seks millioner og halvparten av disse – omlag tre millioner – bor i Tyskland. Dersom man klarer å skape et solidaritetsnettverk for uavhengig tyrkisk journalistikk ligger det et betydelig potensial i denne gruppen. Kuleli avsluttet med å si at han på tross av alle tilbakeslag likevel er optimist.

Bülent Mumay er tidligere digital redaktør i avisa Cumhyriet og fokuserte på alle vanskelighetene som har oppstått i forbindelse med produksjon og distribusjon av aviser.

Dette handler ikke bare om faren for å bli fengslet eller om pengeproblemer.  Skattemyndighetene lager utallige vanskeligheter for utgiverne, og dette er ikke noe som skjer kun med de opposisjonelle avisene – dette rammer alle aviser og publikasjoner, også de regjeringstro avisene får trøbbel. Disse regjeringstro avisene kritiserer ikke presidenten direkte for dette, men påpeker at mye burde ha vært annerledes. Problemene er endeløse, ikke minst på grunn av den aggressive polariseringen som regjeringen gir konstant næring til. Det finnes snart ikke nøytrale eller uavhengige medier i Tyrkia. Nasjonen har blitt delt i to; det er som om ekvator har lagt seg som en mur på midten av hele landet. På nittitallet fantes det nasjonalistiske aviser, men også politiske nøytrale aviser. Folkeavstemningen tidligere i år handlet om autokrati eller fortsatt demokrati. Mange mennesker skjønte ikke konsekvensene av hva de faktisk skulle stemme over. Resultatet er at Erdoğan nå har kontrollen over både den lovgivende, utøvende og dømmende makten. En klassisk oppskrift på innføring av diktatur. Mangelen på fri journalistikk gjør at folk flest ikke aner hva som skjer med de kritiske stemmene i landet.

Mumay kommenterte Kulelis idé om å skaffe finansiering fra utlandet med å si at selv om det finnes penger til drift i utlandet så er ikke det nok. Man kan ikke basere seg kun på dette. Selv om man skulle hente inn penger fra bidragsytere i Europa, vil det fortsatt være svært vanskelig å jobbe uavhengig. Små aviser trenger absolutt støtte, men man trenger først og fremst å mobilisere landets egne innbyggere. Den jevne tyrker skjønner ikke at den økonomiske krisen skyldes Erdoğans vanstyre, og svært mange regjeringstro journalister er ikke i stand til å skrive noe som ligner på fornuftige betraktninger om økonomi. Dersom Cumhyriet la ned sin papirutgave og kun lagde nettavis, ville denne bare bli stengt og journalistene ville få  utreiseforbud. Men dersom for eksempel BBC og Deutsche Welle produserte en tyrkisk versjon av sine nyheter, ville dette være mye vanskeligere å stenge. Fox News har vært etablert i Tyrkia i flere år, og de kan kritisere Erdoğan på en helt annen måte enn tyrkiske medier.

Nurcan Baysal er en kurdisk journalist og menneskerettighetsaktivist. I januar 2018 ble hun arrestert av tyrkisk politi i sitt hjem i Diyarbakır. Årsaken var hennes Twitter-meldinger som kritiserte Tyrkias militære operasjoner i Syria. Tungt bevæpnede sikkerhetsstyrker stormet uten forvarsel huset hennes og arresterte henne. I februar ble hun funnet skyldig i å spre falsk informasjon om tyrkiske sikkerhetsstyrker. Hun ble dømt til ti måneder i fengsel, men ble løslatt på betingelse av at hun ikke begår nye lovbrudd de neste fem årene. Baysal forklarte at det er ille nok å være tyrkisk journalist, men enda verre å være kurdisk sådan. Erdoğans regjering brøt forhandlingene med PKK i 2016, og dialogen er erstattet med full konfrontasjon. Baysal fortalte om hvordan hun har sett kurdiske journalister ligge døde på gata Diyarbakır. Eskaleringen av konflikten startet ikke med kuppforsøket, men med bruddet i forhandlingene mellom PKK og myndighetene. Man kan bli satt rett inn for å skrive gale ting på sosiale medier. Falske nyheter florerer og er vanskelige å avkrefte. Det er forbudt å ta med seg kamera i konfliktsoner. Omverdenen aner stort sett ikke hva som foregår i de kurdiske områdene sørøst i Tyrkia da det er meget vanskelig å komme seg inn der.

Çiğdem Toker er en respektert og erfaren journalist i avisa Sözcü som er Tyrkias fjerde største. Hennes fagfelt er økonomi. Under dette innlegget sviktet teknikken som ga oss utmerket simultanoversettelse gjennom hele konferansen, men den avsluttende delen av innlegget hennes handlet om at entusiasmen for journalistikken ikke lenger er tilstede i det tyrkiske samfunnet. Journalistikk blir sidestilt med opposisjon. Men for at journalistikk skal ha verdi må den selvsagt kunne være kritisk. Poenget er at folk har en soleklar rett til å få vite hva som foregår. Uten fri journalistikk, intet demokrati. Kriminalisering av journalister er i seg selv kriminelt, og Erdoğans mediemaskineri benytter enhver anledning til å kriminalisere opposisjonen. Journalistikkens kjerne er å undersøke og rapportere. Stille de spørsmålene som trengs for å få fakta på bordet, uansett hvor ubehagelig dette måtte være for et lands myndigheter.

Fatih Polat er sjefredaktør i Evrensel, en av de ytterst få opposisjonelle avisene som er igjen i landet. Han snakket om fengslingen av en kurdisk journalist som var på jobb i det kurdiske området. Sammen med flere andre observatører overvar han den påfølgende rettssaken. Forsvaret hadde meldt inn 24 vitner. 17 av disse fortalte at de hadde fått trusler om likvidering dersom de ikke trakk sine vitnemål. Dette er en skrekkelig, men helt vanlig praksis: Myndighetene truer vitner på livet. Anklagene er stort sett latterlige og fulle av fantasiske og surrealistiske påstander. En fengslet journalist fikk forlenget sin straff fordi han ville lære seg tysk på cella og fikk tak i ei lærebok i tysk. Dette var i seg selv ikke grunnlag for straff, men myndighetene reagerte på at det i denne læreboka forekom et kart der Tyrkia var inntegnet i for liten skala i forhold til resten av Europa: Det var fornærmende. Det er med andre ord ingen grenser for hva tyrkiske myndigheter kan oppfatte som krenkende. En uavhengig presse trenger et sivilsamfunn som støtter demokratiske prosesser som ikke er bundet til regjeringsapparatet. Så hvor går man herfra? Kanskje ved å si som Goethe: Dersom du fortsetter å gjøre det du tror på, vil løsninger komme.

PAUSE

Andre del av seminaret startet med en sekvens der Caroline Stockford, Erk Acarer og Fatih Polat snakket om en pågående aksjon for hvordan man kan støtte den opposisjonelle pressen i dagens tyrkiske virkelighet gjennom å abonnere på disse avisene.

Caroline Stockford kom nå med sitatet som er gjengitt over, nemlig at det er en hårfin linje mellom terrorisme og journalistikk. At dette kommer fra en av presidentens aller nærmeste rådgivere inngir selvsagt all grunn til å tro at de mener alvor. Stockford sa videre at IPI følger Tyrkia meget tett og gjør hva de kan for å hjelpe dem som er rammet. De reiser blant annet rundt i landet og følger rettssaker, noe som blir stadig mer komplisert og tidkrevende fordi myndighetene har begynt å fjerne rettssakene fra storbyenes rettssaler og heller legge dem til steder i provinsene, langt unna Istanbul og Ankara. Dette er fordi de håper at det da skal bli færre internasjonale observatører. Hun sa også at de opposisjonelle avisene så godt som aldri får annonser fra firmaer, fordi disse firmaene da frykter å miste kontrakter med regjeringsvennlige oppdragsgivere. Avisene minner derfor mer og mer om skoleaviser og  pamfletter. I tillegg til Cumhyriet er det Evrensel og BirGün som fortsatt eksisterer av frie aviser av betydning, og når man hører at opplagstallene er 14 000 for Evrensel og 5000 for BirGün innser man at dette ikke er all verden i et land med over 80 millioner innbyggere. Cumhyriet har for øvrig et opplag på rundt 60 000, noe som heller ikke kan kalles tapetsering av det offentlige rom.

Erk Acarer er journalist i BirGün. Han påpekte hvor vanskelig det er å tie med ting som man føler må sies, og likevel ikke kan si fordi det vil skaffe deg alvorlig trøbbel. Så hvorfor regner myndighetene dette som så farlig og må stoppes for enhver pris? Dersom du er oppegående journalist og informerer offentligheten om ting som regneringen ikke liker, vil du bli kalt enten en som støtter terrorisme eller stemplet som vaskekte terrorist. Dersom du skriver forsøksvis nyansert om PKK, er du terrorist og kan miste jobben og bli fengslet. Myndighetene kriminaliserer med dette journalisters ærlige arbeid. Under byggingen av den nye gigantiske flyplassen i Istanbul (for øvrig tegnet av et norsk arkitektfirma) som skulle ha åpnet i oktober florerte arbeidsulykkene på grunn av manglende sikkerhet og et vanvittig tidspress. Mange arbeidere døde og ble alvorlig skadet under arbeidene, og det brøt ut demonstrasjoner blant arbeiderne. Myndighetene svarte kontant med å arrestere over 400 arbeidere og fagforeningsledere. Over 30 av disse sitter etter det man veit fortsatt fengslet.

Fatih Polat er redaktør for Evrensel. Han oppsummerte nåværende status med å si at de siste par årene har 10 000 journalister mistet jobbene sine og 12 000 er arbeidsløse. Hver tredje journalist i landet er uten arbeid. Det er pandemonium av sensur, pengeproblemer, rettssaker og menneskelige tragedier. I tillegg til alt dette kommer den generelle økonomiske krisen i Tyrkia, hvor landets valuta har halvert seg på tre år. Det er lett å tenke at dette bare kan gå én vei. Ikke bare pengestøtte er avgjørende men også den mentale støtten og solidariteten fra utlandet oppleves som svært viktig.

Sammen gjorde disse tre oppmerksom på kampanjen som nå er lansert om at mennesker bosatt utenfor Tyrkias grenser kan tegne støtteabonnement på avisene Evrensel og BirGün. Lenke til denne finnes her: https://www.isubscribe.media/

Det er viktig å gjøre oppmerksom på at Evrensel og BirGün med dette avløser Cumhyriet som fokus for denne kampanjen.

——-

Tredje og siste del av seminaret ble ledet av Daniel-Dylan Böhmer og var viet Europas rolle i ivaretakelsen av grunnleggende rettigheter i Tyrkia. Böhmer er utenriksredaktør i Die Welt med Asia og Midtøsten som spesialfelt.

Nevşin Mengü er en frilansjournalist som tidligere jobbet som nyhetsanker i CNN Türk. Hun drøftet spørsmålet om hva omverdenen kan gjøre for å avhjelpe den svært vanskelige situasjonen. Hun påpekte at argumentene mot Tyrkia i dag er de samme som de i en årrekke har vært mot Iran. Skal man sanksjonere? Inkludere? Isolere? Alt dette har både fordeler og ulemper. Antakelig er det en kombinasjon av det hele som kan føre fram. Under valgkampen før folkeavstemningen appellerte Erdoğan til nasjonalfølelsen. Han demoniserte Europa og mante til kamp mot EU. Men når representanter fra EU kommer til Tyrkia er tonen en helt annen og halen logrer. Det er en politikk med to ansikter. Mengü mente at Tyrkia allerede har blitt et nytt Türkmenistan, om enn ikke så irreversibelt. Hovedproblemet er den voldsomme polariseringen. Hvis du ikke er Erdoğanist i dagens Tyrkia er du enten i fengsel eller arbeidsløs. Det finnes ikke lenger et politisk sentrum. Den som ikke er med er mot.

Sarah Clarke er rådgiver i PEN International og snakket om alle rettssakene hun i Tyrkia har bivånet som internasjonal observatør. Hun mente at dersom alle disse prosessene har noe til felles, må det være at anklagene stort sett er fri fantasi og rent oppspinn. Saken mot forfatteren Ahmet Altan, som endte med livstidsdom, hadde en tiltale på intet mindre enn 247 sider. Hun påpekte at det er noe Kafkask over disse prosessene. Man veit ikke hva man er tiltalt for, og når man endelig får opplest tiltalen er den hinsides enhver virkelighet; man veit ikke om man skal le eller gråte. 68 år gamle Altan satt isolert i åtte måneder før rettssaken kom opp og er nå innelåst 23 timer i døgnet på sin celle resten av livet. Hva dette gjør med et menneske kan man bare gjette seg til.

Rıza Türmen er en svært erfaren aktør i tyrkisk offentlighet. Han har bakgrunn som dommer i Den europeiske menneskerettsdomstolen (ECHR) i Strasbourg, har også vært Tyrkias  ambassadør til flere land og sitter i dag i det tyrkiske parlamentet som representant for det sosialdemokratiske partiet CHP – Det Republikanske Folkepartiet. Han fokuserte på unntakstilstanden som har ført til at 150 000 høyt kvalifiserte mennesker har mistet jobben og  passene deres er inndratt. Du våkner en morgen og finner navnet ditt på ei liste. I samme sekund veit du at livet ditt er ødelagt. EU ba Tyrkia om å nedsette en kommisjon for å behandle alle disse sakene individuelt, men talte for døve ører. Spørsmålet det hele koker ned til er følgende: Hvor langt er EU villig til å gå for å forsvare demokratiske verdier i Tyrkia? Dette er ekstremt komplisert diplomati fordi det eksisterer så mange divergerende interesser i de ulike medlemslandene, og ikke minst fordi Erdoğan holder Europa i et jerngrep med trusselen om å la alle flyktningene fra Asia og Afrika få fritt leide gjennom Tyrkia og dermed inn i EU, noe som vil helle rakettbensin på høyrepopulistenes bål, felle regjeringer ved neste valg og true hele det europeiske samarbeidet.

Tora Pekin er en av Tyrkias mest prominente advokater og forsvarte medarbeiderne i avisa Cumhyriet under rettssakene mot dem. Han takket for all solidariteten som strømmet inn fra utlandet under rettssaken – dette var utrolig viktig for å holde moralen oppe. Det er en massiv utfordring å stå imot de tyrkiske regjeringsvennlige mediene, og han mente at det er svært viktig for det som er igjen av fri tyrkisk presse å være synlige i europeiske parlamenter. Lage allianser, søke forbindelser som på en eller annen måte kan forhindre at den opposisjonelle pressen forsvinner fullstendig. Dette er kanskje enda mer betydningsfullt enn støtte fra regjeringer som sådan. Han trakk fram at to unge journalister måtte forlate Cumhyriet fordi de skrev om noe så ukontroversielt som  Panama-papirene. Årsaken var at det fantes forbindelser til Tyrkia som ikke tålte dagens lys i den tyrkiske offentlighet. På spørsmål fra salen om han selv fryktet å bli arrestert svarte Pekin at han ikke opplevde det som en trussel slik situasjonen er i dag. Mange advokater har blitt arrestert, men dette er folk som har forsvart personer som har begått terrorhandlinger eller blitt definert som Gülenister.

Tony Fisher er en høyt respektert engelsk jurist som leder menneskerettighetskomiteen i

Law Society of England and Wales. Han snakket om demoniseringen av opposisjonen og de destruktive følgene av dette. Myndighetene slynger ut anklager om terrorisme og fabrikkerer rettssaker uten grunnlag. 1500 advokater er arrestert siden kuppet, men mange av disse har havnet her fordi de – som Tora Pekin påpekte – har blitt definerte som Gülenister. Han påpekte at det faktisk hjelper at det internasjonale samfunnets flomlys skinner på Erdoğan og hans medsammensvorne. Situasjonen i Tyrkia har brakt jurister og dommere over hele Europa sammen. De kritiserer Tyrkia for et nærmest totalt fravær av respekt for lov og rett, og dette legger press på tyrkiske domstoler. Dette trykket må ikke opphøre.

Siste taler var Deniz Yücel, som fra 2007 til 2015 var redaktør i den Berlin-baserte avisa Die Tageszeitung (taz) før han i 2015 ble ansatt som Tyrkia-korrespondent for Die Welt. Yücel ble arrestert og satt i varetekt av tyrkiske myndigheter den 14. februar 2017, mistenkt for spionasje, oppvigleri og for å støtte en terrororganisasjon. Denne fengslingen fikk enorm oppmerksomhet i Tyskland. Både Angela Merkel og president Joachim Gauck gikk knallhardt ut og mente at dette betød slutten på Tyrkia som rettsstat. Yücel ble etter intenst internasjonalt press satt fri 16. februar 2018. Han ble aldri presentert for noen formell siktelse.

Yücel mente at dersom vi hadde vært samlet her for halvannet år siden, ville det ha vært mange flere mennesker i salen. Det kan synes som om folk i Tyskland har gått litt lei av Tyrkia, og det er kanskje ikke så rart – interessen for de fleste saksområder taper seg etter en viss tids eksponering i mediene – men samtidig må man huske at Tyrkia ikke er et fjernt land som Uganda eller Myanmar. Tyrkia er Tyskland nært, det bor tre millioner tyrkere i Tyskland, så interessen for Tyrkia er i utgangspunktet helt annerledes i Tyskland enn i alle andre europeiske land.

Yücel påpekte veldig tydelig at Tyskland reagerte kraftig og umiddelbart på at han ble fengslet. Dette har selvsagt å gjøre med at Yücel er et kjent navn i tysk offentlighet, og at han er korrespondent for en av landets mest profilerte aviser. Han ser tendenser til at mange tyskere har begynt å gi opp Tyrkia og tenker at landet er på vei til å bli et nytt Türkmenistan, at landet har kommet til et punkt der det ikke lenger kan reddes. Et påfallende sykdomstegn hos den tyrkiske regjeringen er at de går ut ifra at også andre regjeringer og nasjoner tenker som dem; de ser utelukkende verden med polariserte briller. Men slik er det heldigvis ikke. Man må huske at nesten halve befolkningen i Tyrkia er imot regjeringen. Vil vi la disse menneskene i stikken? Solidaritet begynner med empati og fortsetter med handling. Man trenger ikke bo i Tyrkia for å støtte det som er igjen av fri presse der, man kan også yte verdifull hjelp fra utlandet.

——-

Etter konferansen inviterte Caroline og IPI på lunsj i den tradisjonsrike restauranten Zollpackhof som ligger i en grønn oase nær regjeringskvartalet. Deniz Yücel bestilte Schweinshaxe (et stykke ovnsbakt svineknoke av monstrøs størrelse) og øl. Det var vanskelig ikke å bli slått av symbolikken i dette menyvalget.

Referent: Øivind Hånes

İlkyaz - a new platform for young writers in Turkey

We congratulate and welcome the new platform for young writers in Turkey: İlkyaz.

İlkyaz is built to showcase and nurture the imagination of writers under 35.  The founder and coordinator of İlkyaz is Ege Dündar, a long time friend and collaborator of Norwegian PEN. Together with manager Irmak Ertaş and their friends on the advisory board, Halil Gediz and Özge Sargın, they launch this extraordinary literature  haven on 3 December 2018.

Literature knows no frontiers. Norwegian PEN believes that İlkyaz  will represent a significant and valuable source of Turkish young voices the world needs to listen to.

Norwegian PEN is the proud supporter of İlkyaz.  To contribute to make the writers’ works read, we publish three of the platform’s first texts in Norwegian, translated by translator Gunvald Axner Ims:

Så enkelt av Eren Özgür

Klagesang til fiken av Anıl Can Uğuz

Hodepine av Halil Gediz

You can find these works in Turkish and English here:

Anıl Can Uğuz – İncire Ağıt / Lament To Fig / Klagesang til fiken

Halil Gediz – Ağrı/Pain/Hodepine

Eren Özgür – Basit / Simple /SÅ Enkelt

We congratulate the founder and coordinator Ege Dündar by reproducing his own words on the web sit

In these times where divisions thrive, and interaction between people gets increasingly narrow due to political, economic or ideological boundaries, literature is a shelter for us all. It’s an avenue where we can meet beyond our differences in opinion, and witness our communal home, that is the Earth through various windows. It’s a precious common ground we can find morale in and appreciate insight into perspectives across the isle in an era besieged by a lack of communication.
(…)
We hope İlkyaz will encourage a wave of young writers, who are growing ever more doubtful of their talents and potential due to a lack of publishing opportunities. We wish to support young voices, even when other publishers say their content is “too raw.”
(…)
Our wish for İlkyaz is to act as a bridge. Not just between our readers and writers, but also between the first and later stages of a writers’ career – newly emerging and more established names; between young Turkish writers and writers and audiences from around the world.
(…)
Ilkyaz means spring in Turkish but is also a combination of the word “ilk” for first and “yaz” for write. I hope that much like the awakening of spring, we can pave the way for new writers and ideas to grow on our platform. We eagerly await your ideas. Welcome to İlkyaz!

Ege Dündar

Open letter: 9 international organisations urge EU officials to raise Turkey's freedom of expression crisis

Open letter: 9 international organisations urge EU officials to raise Turkey’s freedom of expression crisis during EU-Turkey high political dialogue

 

 

21 November 2018

To the attention of:

EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission, Ms Federica Mogherini,

EU Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Mr Johannes Hahn,

We, the undersigned organisations, urge the addressed European Union (EU) officials to discuss Turkey’s freedom of expression crisis and fractured rule of law during their high level political dialogue with the Turkish government on 22 November 2018.

More than 160 journalists are imprisoned in Turkey today, with hundreds more on trial for exercising their right to freedom of expression. In 2018, the World Press Freedom Index ranked Turkey as 157 out of 180 countries, on the basis of the level of freedom available to journalists. Since 2016, Turkey’s position in the index has progressively decreased from 151 in 2016 and 155 in 2017. Journalists and media outlets are mostly targeted on charges of affiliation with, membership of, or propaganda for a terrorist organisation, charges mostly linked to the attempted coup of July 2016. Despite the lifting of a two year-long state of emergency on 18 July 2018, and its replacement with similarly restricting legislation, such attacks are still taking place. Just last week, on 16 November 2018, in a targeted operation against civil society,13 people including academics, journalists and lawyers were arrested on suspicions of similar charges, some of whom were subsequently released under judicial control.

Following the attempted coup in July 2016, the Turkish authorities cracked down on independent press and journalists, resulting in widespread closures of media outlets, dismissal of 10,000 media workers and mass prosecutions of journalists. The Turkish judicial system has thus far failed to provide redress in these cases, a further sign of the deterioration of the rule of law in Turkey.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) response to this situation has been weak until now: focusing on the need to exhaust domestic remedies as a principle of admissibility of cases before the Court, and failing to fully recognise the impact of the repression of which Turkish journalists and civil society are the victims. Where ECtHR rulings on journalists have been made they have been blatantly ignored and not implemented by the Turkish authorities. Newly introduced legislation in Turkey, dovetailing in many cases provisions concerning purportedly temporary and exceptional measures introduced under the state of emergency in order to respond to the attempted coup, also casts a shadow over respect for human rights in the country.

We remind you that pursuant to the Treaties, the European Union’s “aim is to promote peace, its values and the well-being of its peoples” and that “in its relations with the wider world, the Union shall uphold and promote its values and interests”, including contributing to the protection of human rights. Given the mandate of your roles within the European Union’s system, we urge you to include the above-mentioned issues at the heart of your conversation with the Turkish government during the high level political dialogue planned in Ankara on 22 November 2018. In particular, we request you to engage with Turkish authorities with a view to agreeing on concrete actions aimed at the protection of journalists and human rights defenders in Turkey, for the respect of the right to freedom of expression in Turkey. Finally, we demand that the EU stresses the need for Turkey to concretely improve its respect for the rule of law and human rights, as a prerequisite for a further deepening of the EU-Turkey relationship.

 

Yours sincerely,

ARTICLE 19
International Press Institute
European Federation of Journalists
Index on Censorship
Reporters Without Borders
PEN International
English PEN
Norwegian PEN
Articolo 21

 

cc.

Mr Pier Antonio Panzeri, Chair of the European Parliament’s Human Rights Committee
European Parliament
Rue Wiertz
Altiero Spinelli 15G205
1047 Brussels

Mr David McAllister, Chair of the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee
European Parliament
Rue Wiertz
Altiero Spinelli 15G205
1047 Brussels

Mr Christian Berger, Head of EU Delegation in Turkey
Büyükesat Mahallesi
Uğur Mumcu Cd. No:88
06700 Çankaya/Ankara
Turkey

16. april: Pressefrihet i Tyrkia – møte med journalisten Gürkan Özturan

Norsk PEN inviterer til møter med den tyrkiske journalisten Gürkan Özturan. Özturan er redaktør og daglig leder i den uavhengige internasjonale nettavisen Dokuz8NEWS.

PRESS FREEDOM IN TURKEY?

Tid: Mandag 16. april kl. 18.00
Sted: Nedjma, Litteraturhuset, Oslo

Gürkan Özturan will give a brief introduction to the history of press in Turkey starting with the printing press, early days of censorship, social development and publications in Turkey in the republican years. Moving on to the background on the development of contemporary media since 1970s and how the situation has been deteriorating in the last two decades continuously hitting rock bottom very recently.

The program will end with a discussion on possible ways out of the current flood, the alternative media and citizen initiatives for right to accurate, reliable and verified information.

Gürkan Özturan is the executive manager of rights-focused independent citizen journalism platform dokuz8news which publishes news emerging from social platforms & human rights networks across Turkey, and recently started a project on Developing Data Journalism Capacity, in the shadow if the increasing repression of critical voices in Turkey. He has studied in Istanbul, Uppsala, Nice and Berlin. His academic and activist expertise is right wing populism and digital rights & liberties, and he is published and interviewed by many of the major news outlets. Özturan is a board member for Turkey Europe Foundation, and also contributes to the work of several other NGOs.

Programmet er gratis og åpent for alle. Ingen påmelding.
Arrangementet på Facebook.

17. april: Media freedom violations in Turkey

Gürkan Özturan is the executive manager of dokuz8news

MEDIA FREEDOM VIOLATIONS IN TURKEY

Tuesday 17th April at 13:00
Venue: Redaksjonsområdet UiB, 2. etasje, Media City Bergen

We welcome to a conversation with Gürkan Özturan and Nuray Yildirim Gullestad, the chair of Norwegian PEN avd. Vestlandet, about how freedom of speech has been constricted and how critical journalism copes and adapts to the circumstances, in Turkey under Prime Minister, now President, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Our guests will reflect on the impact of the broad variety of restrictions on free speech, which are applied in Turkey, and how a democratic opposition can survive in the next year and a half, as we approach the next General Election in Turkey.
The conversation is moderated by Iver Ørstavik, senior adviser at the Rafto Foundation for Human Rights.

Gürkan Özturan is the executive manager of rights-focused independent citizen journalism platform dokuz8news which publishes news emerging from social platforms & human rights networks across Turkey, and recently started a project on Developing Data Journalism Capacity, in the shadow if the increasing repression of critical voices in Turkey. He has studied in Istanbul, Uppsala, Nice and Berlin. His academic and activist expertise is right wing populism and digital rights & liberties, and he is published and interviewed by many of the major news outlets. Özturan is a board member for Turkey Europe Foundation, and also contributes to the work of several other NGOs.

Arrangert av Norsk PEN Vestlandet i samarbeid med Raftostiftelsen og Universitetet i Bergen.

Ahmet Şık's defence statement of 25 December

Ahmet Şık’s Statement, December 24-25 Trial

On November 23, 2017, in the beginning of the legal year, President of the Supreme Court of Appeal, İsmail Rüştü Cirit, stated some very striking facts. He declared that according to the 2016 criminal records, there are approximately 6 million 900 thousand suspects, within our country’s population of 80 million. Cirit said, “This shows that in Turkey, when we compare to the total population, 8 in 100 people are suspects, which is quite high. There are initial level investigations being conducted on all of these suspects,”

Evaluation of these statistics, a country where 8% of its population is considered suspects, shows a very high ratio. But, we should correct Cirit’s simplified calculations.

That is to say:

If we consider those within the 0-15 age group and those who cannot be held accountable by law due to mental disabilities, these make up 25% of the entire population. Another 10% is composed of those with various physical disabilities or who are bedridden and are physically unable to commit a crime.

When we discount those who fall into these categories, there are approximately 50 million people who can be held accountable for crimes.

If there are approximately 7 million suspects, as the President of the Supreme Court of Appeals declared, it means that 15% of the population are seen as suspects by the government. In other words, one in 7 people on the streets is a suspect.

Using these facts, we can portray the current situation in Turkey as follows:

Depending on majoritarianism as opposed to pluralism, the current government treats and views every citizen who does not agree with them as terrorists.

There is a judicial system, under the control of the current government, that transforms all suspicions of terrorism into outrageous charges.

There is the media which hides facts and consequently, are accomplices in ruining our common future.

There is a silent majority which remains in a web of silence as everything happens in front of their eyes because they are scared for their well-being or afraid that their comfortable lives will be disrupted.

Within this current situation, under a dictatorial regime which feeds off violence and is based on cruelty and oppression, naturally the only that thrives is evil.

It is not the type of evil that requires intelligence or talent. It is an ordinary evil due to being power hungry.

They are evil. They know that they are evil. And this makes them even more evil.

Those who have created this dark climate are trying to delay the consequences of confronting themselves and their malice by accusing those who will reveal their guilt.

The AKP’s most effective and strongest weapon in creating this environment is undeniably its media.Media, through confiscations and buy offs, was constructed as the voice of the current government. However, they needed to bring the mainstream media groups over to their side since they themselves did not possess the skills to impact the public opinion.

The AKP rule designed majority of the media through the great help of its once ally and now most ferocious enemy, the Gulen Cemaat, to reach their common goals.

Although, now, seen as a conspiracy, the chain of trials and investigations of the Gulen Sect, played a key part in this design. The AKP covered up its complicity through its power and oppressive regime. Currently, by using the word “FETOist” ( FETO (Fetullah Gulen Terrorist Organization)) people can be rendered ineffective; back then, the word that was used for similar reasons was “Ergenekonist.” (following Ergenekon). Even if people were not arrested, the media was undermined and silenced through defamation.

The Sect’s organized network within the police and judicial organizations, with the help and support of the ruling party, succeeded in silencing the “unwanted voices.” The media owned by powerful holdings supporting the government were awarded with government bids and the others were penalized by tax penalties. Columnists, TV anchors, and managers, acting as commissioners of the ruling party were assigned to each of the media organizations.

The columnists and TV persons who wrote or spoke against the government were dismissed and it is still continuing.

If we express it with the words of the “puppet expert witness,” Ünal Aydemir:

“In this age, a media which has been used as a secret weapon of the psychological warfare and asymmetric war tactic as a means to enforce and manipulate, has been created. It has been employed to impact and guide the public opinion and confuse the minds of the undecided.

Political opponents were weakened and worn down by media manipulations in favor of the interest of the ruling government. Societal opposition has been criminalized and polarization of the public has been accelerated through tactics which could lead to chaos. A base for politics based on majoritarianism and which are off the books and against the constitution was prepared through questioning legitimate political means. The tool to accomplish their goals was the media. The ruling party, which was acting more like a gang only acting in its own interests, was moving along on the path paved by the media organizations.”

In summary, these statements from the report of the expert witness who was ordered with the goal of making “terrorists” out of us demonstrate the sad condition of the media supporting the current regime. It also explains the organizations you are seeking and the media groups who are accomplices to the crimes. And if we again state this in the words of your expert witness, “Covering the news by concealing the truth through manipulation to help interest groups in accomplishing their goals and objectives is not journalism.”

No one has the freedom to commit a crime. No one should. Journalists should not have it either. But, the alleged crimes are actually the regular activities as part of the job of a journalist. However, if journalists are deliberately producing fake news and concealing the truth, or in other words, if a journalist has devoted himself/herself to creating a perception dictated by the powerful, then, he/she can be accused of committing a crime.  In fact, he/she must be accused. But the ones that are judging and punishing them should be the readers/watchers and professional journalism organizations.

In other words, opposite to what you have been claiming, journalism is not a crime. You also know very well that to criminalize journalists’ duties is in fact the panic of those guilty ones who are afraid of the truth. Ones who know they cannot seize the truth will lie and continue to commit crimes.

The accusations you have made against us consist of news and commentaries which were neither refuted nor brought up in any lawsuits when they were initially published. You are trying in vain to create terrorists from professional activities.

If we have to be tried, we should be tried for not representing the truths when we could. Luckily, our record of professional activities is not blemished. In fact, that is why we are here.

Cumhuriyet was one of the only media organizations who resisted the current rule and the media it created and who became the spokesperson of the truth. It is not surprising that it became a target and was decided to be eliminated.

Because we already had a thick criminal record according to the government who existed as a malicious organization. The hatred towards us grew due to the news stories that were published on the Charlie Hebdo attack which was an assault on freedom of the press and on the corruption, pillage and criminal activities during the Syrian civil war. We should be punished for these acts. They only needed “Allah’s blessing.”(Quoted by Erdogan referring to the coup attempt). This “blessing”, was also realized when the July 15 coup attempt, which was a fight for power between two former accomplices, occured.

Even the imperfect and immature democracy was suspended. Those who were digging the graves of the rule of law which barely existed, eagerly participated in burying it without any hesitation.

What we have been living through in the past months in prison and in these courts demonstrate that the current situation in this country, is a representation of a political assault. In other words,what we are experiencing is a representation of a play where we are pretending that rule of law exists in a country, where everything supposedly exists.

The records of the investigation is the evidence of the conspiracy of this political assault.  This investigation file consists of examples of how rule of law is massacred and examples of  members of the law bending the rules according to the individuals

Even though it is obvious that this is a conspiracy based on lies, they are insisting on keeping us in prison and trying us in court based on crimes which are not infact crimes, evidences which are not real evidences, as forwarded against us the indictment. The marks that the media which has targeted the freedom of the press and has become the hitman for this assasination show how this conspiracy is set up.

I will explain all one by one. But first, let’s discuss a document which shows that those involved in the conspiracy against Cumhuriyet are merely a few civil servants.

However, a reminder is appropriate here since it is relevant.

Several examples of “copy-paste” methods were used by the judges and prosecutors to make their decisions without conducting any investigations on the files were brought to light during many trials and investigations. The supposedly independent and impartial judges and prosecutors following directions mandated to them committed these crimes knowing they would not be held accountable. They are still continuing to do this. For now, I will just remind them of the situation the judges and prosecutors from the Sect are currently in.

There are some of you who get mad when we tell them that these are bludgeons of the rulership where  judgements made at these trials  are not impartial and independent.  Let’s prove that you have no right to get mad by a document found in the investigation files.

When decisions were made on who to arrest during the Cumhuriyet operation, the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor appealed to the Istanbul 5th Criminal Court of Peace. They requested permits from the judge to search, seize, and to charge through directing various accusations.  It was decided that Orhan Erinç, Akın Atalay, Önder Çelik, Turhan Günay, Bülent Yener, Günseli Özatalay, Bülent Utku, Aydın Engin, Murat Sabuncu, Hikmet Çetinkaya, Musa Kart, Mustafa Kemal Güngör, Hakan Karasinir, Güray Öz ve Can Dündar would be arrested. Judge Cevdet Özcan from the Istanbul 5th Criminal Court of Peace gave permission to this application given on October 30, 2016.

As you know, the operations began during the early hours of October 31, 2016. All of the suspects, except for Can Dündar ve Akın Atalay who were out of the country, were taken into custody. Ones who were not at home went to the office of the attorney general. During this time, the mainstream media reports that Members of the Board of Directors of Cumhuriyet Foundation, Nebil Özgentürk, Müslüm Özışık ve Eser Sevinç have been taken into custody.

That same day, our lawyers submit a petition which includes objections to the arrests to the 5th Criminal Court of Peace. An appeal was also submitted for Nebil Özgentürk, Eser Sevinç ve Müslüm Özışık whose names were reported in the media since it was not clear whether there was a decision for their arrests, since the files were disclosed to the ruling media and not available for our lawyers.

Judge Cevdet Özcan of the Istanbul 5th Criminal Court of Peace rejected the objections stating that there were no mistakes during the operations. Judge Cevdet Özcan of the 5th Criminal Court of Peace did not even notice that a mistake was made when Sevinç, Özgentürk and Özışık were arrested when their names did not exist on the warrant he provided.

Similar to previous Court of Peace, the 6th Criminal Court of Peace declined the appeal of release of the same three names who weren’t detained at all.

Meanwhile, we must remind you that even though his name was not on the arrest warrant, Kadri Gursel was arrested in the afternoon of October 31, 2016.

Slide-4 A-B/1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8

Now, let’s describe the conspiracy within the investigation documents:

If we believe your prosecutor Murat Imam, who himself is accused of being part of “FETÖ” and has accused us of being part of “FETÖ”, the investigation began on August 18, 2016. According to the ex officio investigation proceedings, “News and commentaries made by some media organizations alleged that Cumhuriyet was taken over by the PKK and FETÖ/PDY terrorist organizations and that the newspaper was working in their interests.”

Slide-Minutes of ex offcifio invastigation 5-A

2 days before the July 15th coup attempt, on July 13, when columnist Aydın Engin’s column was titled “Peace in the world, well then what in the country?”, Prosecutor Inam found the missing piece. Because the ones who attempted the coup named themselves “Peace in the Country Council.” Apparently, these facts led to suspecting that the Cumhuriyet newspaper directors were had ties to the PKK and FETÖ terrorist organizations. And, apparently, this suspicion was sufficient for starting an investigation.

It is the Prosecutor Inam who surrendered himself first to the organization of a charlatan using religion as a means and then when the wind started blowing in the opposite direction to the other power that is making these statements. Prosecutor Inam, explains how Aydin Engin’s column’s title became evidence of his suspicions in the indictment as follows: “It has been deemed to be  quite meaningful and gripping and cannot be viewed as a simple coincidence”, “the title of the column cannot be a coincidence…”

Namely, “meaningful”, “cannot be a coincidence,” there is nothing else that “calls attention.”

Actually, the only thing that can be said for this accusation and mindset is that the fact that a prosecutor who is ignorant of the law and ones like him are part of the judicial system and involved in this case is “meaningful.”

The fact that a judicial system which accepts the following statement,”I was fooled”, as a political self-criticism and does not investigate the “I also helped them a lot,” confession is the whip of the government, proves that this cannot be a “coincedence” in a “striking” way.

Eight of the news articles and commentaries in the international media which helped form the Prosecutor’s suspicions were in fact published before August 18, 2016.

The prosecutor mentions the PKK in the accusations against Cumhuriyet. But none of the 8 articles he used as the foundation for his case have any statements on the relationship between Cumhuriyet and the PKK. There are lots of lies pertaining to FETÖ. In fact, the prosecutor mentions these two organizations, the PKK and FETÖ, in all of his correspondences during the investigations. The arrests are based on these claims. However, when the indictment was provided, another terrorist organization, DHKP-C, which had never been mentioned before was included. The only reason this organization was include in this conspiracy was based on a news story written by me. A news story based on a phone conversation with the members of DHKP-C who killed Mehmet Selim Kiraz.

I was arrested two months after this operation began on October 31, 2016, for advocating for DHKP-C in the form of propaganda. However, since I would not stay in prison for long based on this accusation, a few months later, I was added to the main lawsuit against Cumhuriyet by changing the type of the crime I was originally accused of. This way, with the addition of DHKP-C, which was not part of the original investigation, the “organization cocktail ” indictment was completed.

To blame all the suspects based on a story for which I was solely responsible is not the only unlawful action.

There is also the crime of unlawfully removing the decision on a previous dismissed case on the same news article. The guilty prosecutor is Fahrettin Kemal Yerli. We have already explained how this crime was committed in your court. However, your delegation working to make terrorists out of professional activities of journalists, turned a blind eye to this crime. So let’s ask: Do your prosecutors have the right to commit crimes? Who are the managers and organizations which provide this freedom? And you, who claim to be impartial and independent, will you take this claim that was illegally fabricated into consideration?

Slide 6

When we follow the footsteps of the conspirators, we understand how this conspiracy was brought to life step by step.  The portrait that becomes apparent is as follows:

Cumhuriyet is a newspaper which employs journalists who have earned the hatred of the government and specifically Recep Tayyip Erdogan and were decided to be silenced and placed in prison for a long time. Alev Coşkun, a stakeholder in the internal affairs and power struggles within the newspaper, used this hatred towards her own benefit and ambitions. He sent an incriminating letter to the President’s Office on March 22, 2016 based on criminalizing the elections which determined the members of the board of directors with slander and baseless accusations.

Slide-Letters by Alev Coşkunto be shown as slides

Plans and documents began to be formed on “enemies” which were decided to be dismissed began after the July 15th coup attempt which was seen as “Allah’s Blessing.” The letters by Alev Coskun on the board elections were used to build a case against Cumhuriyet.

During these conspiracy trials fake incriminating letters and emails (which were tactics frequently used by the Sect) were replaced by the “complaints” brought to BIMER (Prime Minister’s Communication Center). In fact, these “complaints” made to BIMER would be used to form a basis of the unlawful accusations against Cumhuriyet.

The first complaint sent on July 19, 2016 by a person who hid his/her name accused the Cumhuriyet Newspaper of supporting FETO (Fetullah Gulen Terrorist Organization):

«The Cumhuriyet Newspaper distorted the news related to the July 15th coup, made manipulative news by protecting FETO and its members, shamelessly excluding them from the coup attempt.”

In addition to establishing such a sentence that reverses grammatical rules, he proved himself to be the competitor to the prosecutors who manage this lawsuit with the accusations he directed. This complaint was added to the Cumhuriyet file on 14th November 2016.

Slide-BİMER complaint 6-A-B-C

The date of the second complaint made via BİMER is August 14, 2016. Our informant is not secret this time, he is called Turan Kılıç. Turan Kılıç, who sent his greeting and prayers to the respectable state elders and tried to prove that he was religious by saying «Amen» but committing the sin of blatantly lying. In the indictment, the following complaints, which were presented as accusations towards us, are listed:

«Cumhuriyet Newspaper makes a fuss over Turkey’s support of ISIS. And it was finding the Turkish Government responsible for this.”

The informant, who proves that he has the same point of view with the prosecutors, said that he got the «information» by reading from the press he followed. If he were  Prosecutor Murat İnam, he would surely start the investigation with the following words: «in some articles and news in the media…» This thinking, which is not different from the prosecutor, is also revealed in the following sentences:

«The reason the newspaper was so clear was because the traitors who attempted the coup on July 15th, helped both ISIS and the Cumhuriyet Newspaper by supporting  them with news, … Cumhuriyet Newspaper published news and publications about HDP (People’s Democratic Party) justly, kindly and sincerely. »

Fortunately, our informer is more merciful than the prosecutors who included the criminal charge of «showing terrorist organizations as charming!» in the indictment. He does not say “terrorist organization” but says HDP. This complaint is also merged with the main file by Prosecutor Murat İnam on 12th October 2016. We understand from the correspondence and documents that the informant deposed as the title of complainant on September 29, 2016.

Let’s see who is this person that the prosecutors have taken so seriously. The results of a simple internet search of our informant also gives us an idea about the address of the person who gave the order for the Cumhuriyet operation. Three of the likes at Turan Kılıç’s Facebook profile are:

* On the way of our Chief, target 2023.
* We are the grandsons of the Ottomans.
* President RTE (Initials of Recep Tayyip Erdogan).

Slide-BİMER /Turan Kilic
6-D, 6-E, 6-F, 6-G, 6-H

It is obvious that our informant is an AKP member and a loyal  «Chief fan».  The reason for this is not just the likes on Facebook. It is his own political preference of professional informant Turan Kılıç to be an AKP supporter. However, we have something to say about how seriously he must be taken as an informant.

We are also encountering Turan Kilic’s name, among the messages sent to the corporate e-mail accounts of the AKP, which was published by Wikileaks. On the 13th and 21st of June 2015, two e-mails sent to the AKP’s information hotline, outlined the results of the 7th June 2015 elections and explained the reasons for the party’s loss of votes:

Slides of e-mails

Turan Kılıç blames HDP for pressuring the people who were voting, but only 24 votes were for HDP out of 285, in the polls where he was serving as a polling clerk. Number of the AKP votes was 177. Number of the CHP and MHP votes was 32. But Turan Kılıç thinks that the HDP pressured the voters . Even, he summarizes what they should do during the elections in the East and South East as follows: «The polls must be installed in safe places. An open vote system must be provided.»

Another e-mail by Turan Kılıç is headed «Loss of votes and Its reasons». We can get a good idea of his mindset of this person who is taken seriously by the prescutors as an informant, in this email where he lists many reasons.

Turan Kılıç explains that the AKP has served more in cities such as Van and İzmir where there is a low vote level for the AKP and this matter has been ridiculed by the voters there.

«As an AKP fan, these make me extremely upset. I need to give my piece of mind to these shameless and degenerate people. Okay, I do not support oppression, but I think the proverb  «you get what you pay for» is very necessary here. They get the best service, but during the elections the opposition party gets the most of the votes. Is this ethical? »

From this point of view, let us also ask: «Is it ethical to consider such a person’s information, if he is not officially on the case?»

(Slide)

Pandora’s box has been opened and there is a complaint on the e-mail notification line of the Anti-Terrorism Department on 14th August 2016. This complaint, made by an informant whose identity is unknown, is about a video news broadcast on the Cumhuriyet internet newspaper.

The same day, a complaint complaint about a news announcement shared by Cumhuriyet’s Twitter account was directed to the Chief of Cyber Crimes Department for further investigation. Let’s watch this video, titled «The jihadists are on the streets with guns.»

Video of Jihadists on streets

This is the case! So, let’s read what is in the report of the Cyber Crime Unit: «A Provocative post to support the treacherous coup attempt by FETO …»

We do not know if any inquiries have been made about these warriors who have weapons and who have no authority to do this. But on January 13th 2017, this complaint was sent to the prosecutor for review and added to the main file.

Slide 15
Slide 16
Slide 17

A lawsuit was filed against the news published on the Cumhuriyet’s website, quoted from the newspaper, Yeni Özgür Politika. Adnan Yilmaz, one of the members of the Seferihisar judicial office, made a formal accusation application on the day after this publication on 21 December 2015. This news was an excerpt from the interview with Murat Karayilan who is one of the leaders of the PKK,  and it was published in some media outlets as well,  besides Cumhuriyet, but we do not know if there is any investigation about them. Almost a year after the complaint, on 14th November 2016, an indictment was filed against Serdar Eroglu, head of the Cumhuriyet internet newspaper, on charges of «Praising the Terrorist Organization». Just like the others, this became evidence in the main file of the Cumhuriyet investigation.

Slide 18 Serdar Eroglu indictment

Another complaint made through BIMER is about some of  tweets I posted from my Twitter account. In accordance with the Anadolu News Agency Gaziantep Branch employee Kerem Kocalar’s complaint on November 28th 2015, they began the process on November 2016. Gaziantep Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office initiated the investigation on 17th November 2016 and prepared a summary of the proceedings based on the the 301st article, «publicly denigration of the state,» and asked for permission to begin the case from the Ministry of Justice.

Slide 19
Slide 20

Due to the same posts, I was also accused in the investigation and was arrested by prosecutor Fahrettin Kemal Yerli, for making propaganda of a terrorist organization. The prosecution merged the two cases when they were notified that there could not be a second investigation for the same crime.

Slide 21

These are the efforts, through BİMER or similar methods, to form a basis for the operation against Cumhuriyet and us. It is as if someone hit a button and all of these unfortunate and bad events came in succession. Should we call these all the evils that we had in succession like someone has hit the button just a coincidence or meaningful?

We were talking about how the conspiracy was mounted and staged, let’s continue.

In order to show consistency of the charges to be directed, the internet archive was searched at this stage. There were searched conducted to match articles to the accusations in the indictment. There was no need to struggle too much. The lies of hitman of the ruling media or the AKP flank guards who take the place of Sect with MHP’s supporters and those who welter in the nationalist battle, were brought together and called «evidence».

Slide 22-
Slide 23
Slide 24

Archives were also scanned for news published in Cumhuriyet or on its website. A similar method was used by the Sect Gang during the ODA TV investigations. After entering keywords such as «Fethullah Gulen, Ergenekon, Balyoz» etc. in the search section of the ODA TV internet site, they used the news that they saw as evidence.

This method was also applied on the Cumhuriyet website. No matter who the accusation is directed against or what he accusation is, specific names or words are searched to help find articles which could be used as evidence of guilt.

Slide 25

According to the press law, within four months of the statutory time limit, any inquiries /comments that have not been filed, were included as criminal evidence in the file. If these articles/comments contain a crime, why didn’t your press prosecutors who came before Murat İnam take any action? Can they not be viewed as committing crimes of abuse/neglect of their duties?

Slide 26

The twitter tweets made by each of us were reviewed. Without even being sorted, without understanding of what we tried to explain, criminal evidence was created,

In the next step, the people employed in the ruling media from the hitman group, were put into action. They were ordered to write commentaries and articles which overlapped with causes of guilt which could be placed in the indictment and also published stories on on TV.

Slide 39

For a report that will form the most important basis of the conspiracy and the backbone of the indictment, there was an «expert» whose skills were known to your prosecutors. This so-called expert named Unal Aldemir, who was employed by the prosecutor to violate the law, has received training in informatics. In journalistic trial, he performed news text analysis. If we state this in a more clear way, the lies which were ordered was signed by a so-called expert.

Slide 40
Slide 41

The so-called report, like the indictment, narrowed the journalism borders and set them back again, starting with a journalistic recipe in line with the spirit of the time. It ordered that many fundamental principles, such as the fact that the matter to be discussed had a bearing on the news, the public benefit, the duty of the press to conduct an audit on behalf of the public, were to be ignored. In the report, the new frontier of journalism in Turkey, is based on not reporting on the crimes of the AKP, it’s leader and related interests and power elites or on any news damaging the interests of the AKP power. Did you make any news which revealed the truth? According to the prosecutor, who led accusations from the report of the so called expert, this was not journalism, it was manipulation.

We do not know whether this report belongs to a counselor, a government commissioner, or a pro-government mediator. It may be one of the troll account owners who show up in the virtual world. The posts on Twitter accounts strengthens this ambiguity. It would be appropriate to say that your prosecutors, who rely on the so called expert’s report, are not so different than him.

Slide 42

Your prosecutors’ choice of experts is really weird. Your prosecutors, who chose a person who has an informatics background for the media report containing the news analysis, this time preferred a person, who claimed to be a transportation and logistics specialist, for the digital inspection report.

The name behind this strangeness is Fahrettin Kemal Yerli. Three months after my arrest, the prosecutor Yerli indicted the decision to confiscate my mobile phone, and he commissioned Bulent Tosun to make a digital review.

(Slide – Görevlendirme yazısı)

Bülent Tosun explains his expertise after his registration of the birth certificate on  «Expert Oath and Documents Delivery Minute» dated 15th March 2017: «Transportation, logistics specialist. He works as an English and German interpreter . »

Bülent Tosun also describes himself as a «Forensic Expert» on his personal social media accounts. He explained that he creates solutions for all kinds of transportation and logistics issues via air, land, sea, railway, and storage. Bülent Tosun’s undergraduate education is in economics, and the fact that he was chosen to conduct cell phone screening, I guess, seems not only strange to us.

Slide 43

The need for a «witness» to replicate the lies of the so-called expert, the so-called report, is also selected from employed hitmen. Latif Erdoğan and Huseyin Gulerce who are transferred to the AKP from the Sect, and Cem Kucuk fulfilled the orders. As the President of the Court, those you do not attribute these people as «gossip mongers», became the witnesses of your prosecutors. The indictment is formed with the lies of these witnesses, «you have not given legal value to what they say.»

I have explained one by one, how these three liar witnesses’ rubbish were placed in your indictment. I will not read the long text and take your time here to tell you how your prosecutors have placed baseless accusations of liar witnesses in the indictment. I will also give you a copy of this text that I have shown here as a slide.

Slide 44
Slide 45
Slide 46-57

Your prosecutors either believe in lies or trust their false witnesses too much. If that was not the case, they wouldn’t try to arrest the courier of our newspaper Yavuz Yakiskan. Most likely, your false witnesses are told to testify according to a foretold scenario. We have no doubt that this is the case.

Huseyin Gulerce and Latif Erdogan testify that the Gulenists made payments to our newspaper, and the “courier” could have been used to transfer the money, according to what they asked to tell. Then, our newspaper’s only courier Yavuz Yakiskan’s name is identified, and the so-called investigation starts.

(Slide -58-59)

First proof that there is a predetermined scenario and the witnesses testify according to that scenario, is the correspondence related with Yavuz Yakiskan in the file. This correspondence, dated March 13, 2016, bears the signature of the chief prosecutor Irfan Fidan, the deputy chief prosecutor back then. This correspondence is also a part of another investigation on Cumhuriyet (2016/9898) as well as the main case. Yavuz Yakiskan’s name appears along with other eight Cumhuriyet employees and was remarked as courrier for the newspaper. And the court asked to determinethe mobile telephone numbers of eight Cumhuriyet employees and Mustafa Yildiz (alleged Istanbul Imam of FETO) from the Istanbul Counterterrorism Department..

(Slide-60)

We don’t know why Mustafa Yildiz, who is alleged as the FETO provincial Imam, is investigated together with the Cumhuriyet staff. However, prosecutor Irfan Fidan must be sure that he is somehow linked with Cumhuriyet staff as he is proceeding with the investigation like that. Yavuz Yakiskan is one of our co-workers who has been working as a courier for many years. All other people mentioned in the correspondence are Cumhuriyet’s executive staff. We don’t know why Yavuz’s name is among the names to be investigated, and we learn that he is investigated when he was taken into custody.

I don’t think it is just only meaningful for us that our friend Yavuz Yakiskan’s accusations are based on phone calls made by his son using a phone registered under Yavuz’s name. And, these phone calls are made with a Mustafa Yildiz, who only coincidentally has the same name with the aforementioned alleged FETO Imam.

Let’s keep going.

Based on the documents in the main case files, there hasn’t been any action taken on Yavuz Yakiskan for the first 8 months. Because the second document that mentions Yavuz’s name is dated November 28, 2016. Istanbul Counter Terrorism Department responds to Irfan Fidan’s request one month after the Cumhuriyet investigation was started; they identified the mobile and landline phone numbers of the requested individuals.

(Slide-61)

After this point your prosecutor Murat Inam, who is now a FETO suspect, takes the stage. One more person testified after Latif Erdogan (December 7, 2016) and Huseyin Gulerce (December 20, 2016) claimed that the Sect might have sent money with a courier. And, Cumhuriyet staff Aykut Kucukkaya testified as a witness on January 4, 2017.

Next day, on January 5, 2017, Murat Inam sent a request to Istanbul Counter Terrorism Department. He mentions that Yavuz Yakiskan’s name appears in witness’ statements, and requests all phone numbers registered on his name. He also requests investigation of any potential links with terrorist organizations, as well as usage of applications such as Bylock, Kakao, Eagle.

The witness statement that mentions Yavuz Yakiskan’s name belongs to Aykut Kucukkaya, who is a Cumhuriyet employee. Here is that part from his statement: “I know that he runs some errands at the newspaper. But I don’t know any of his other businesses. I don’t know anything about the financial stuff. I know that he works for Cumhuriyet for at least 10 years”.

From this sentences, we understand that Yavuz Yakiskan’s name is mentioned in Aykut Kucukkaya’s statement upon a question posed by the prosecutor Yasemin Baba. Looking at the answers, it seems like she asked “Who is the courier of Cumhuriyet?” or “What is the role of Yavuz Yakiskan at the newspaper?”. We can say that the question was directing the respondent to mention Yavuz’s name. This is what your prosecutor Murat Inam refers to as “Yavuz Yakiskan’s name is mentioned” in witness statements.

(Slide 62)

According to the documents included in the investigation files, Yavuz Yakiskan’s name is mentioned 8 more times in documents dated between January 11, 2017 and February 20, 2017. The correspondence that reveals how Yavuz Yakiskan’s accusation was made possible based on a scenario is as follows.

 

Of course, they found nothing. However, Yavuz Yakiskan was taken into custody on April 5, 2017 based on the claim that he contacted the so-called FETO’s provincial imam Mustafa Yildiz several times through the phone. If the trurth was not revealed, Yavuz would have been arrested based on this lie. However, the truth eventually reveals one way or the other, and this disrupted the scenario.

Surprisingly, the so-called FETO imam was just a friend of Yavuz’s son who was using the phone line registered under his father also coincidentally called Mustafa Yildiz. This basic truth was revealed upon our attorney’s close attention, although it could have been found out just with simple investigation. However, Yavuz is still referred to as a suspect.

By the way, those “simple investigations” were actually conducted. Lines registered under Yavuz Yakiskan and Mustafa Yildiz’s names were determined and the results of this investigation was included in the case files.

(Slide-63-70)

In other words, altough both Yavuz Yakiskan’s and the namesake of the so-called imam Mustafa Yildiz’s phone lines were determined, this information was kept as a secret as Yavuz was taken into custody.

(Slide-71-74)

There were no obstacles to stage the plot targeting Cumhuriyet and us. The order to start the process was given on October 31, 2016. Government-backed media takes the lead in “public justification” of this plot, which nobody were convinced. Including the prosecution stage, every stage of the operation against Cumhuriyet was performed at the media courts. I will explain those when it is time, but first let me go back to October 31, 2016.

Accusations that were first in the summary of proceedings, then appear in the indictment were published for the first time by a Twitter account named “tazemazi”. It was as if the users of this account acted on behalf of the expertise or the prosecutors. Confidentiality order that limits the right of defence for the accused and their attorneys was not available by the users of this social media account and the government-backed media.

Slide 75-96

Accusations directed by this social media account was covered the next day in Hilal Kaplan’s column in Sabah Newspaper, as if these were her personal opinions.

Slide 97

One could have explained the appearance of a social media troll’s disinformation on Hilal Kaplan’s column as a coincidence. However, the fact that this “tazemazi” Twitter account that spreads the disinformation is managed by Hilal Kaplan’s husband Suheyb Ogut, rules out this option. Also, Suheyb Ogut manages numerous troll accounts and websites publishing similar sort of information with the financial support from the Presidential Palace’s son-in-law Berat Albayrak. 23 separate troll accounts that were activated in between September 27, 2015 and September 20, 2016, are directed by “Global Relations Association” which is known as “Bogazici Global Relations Center”. The source of this information is the Bogazici Global Relations Foundation (founded by an academic called Idris Kardas in September 2015) and the troll accounts is Berat Albayrak’s emails leaked by the Redhack. An email Suheyb Ogut sent to Berat Albayrak on September 6, 2015, includes the draft bylaw, foundation document and recommendations for the board of directors for this organization founded to direct troll accounts to spread disinformation. Hilal Kaplan is also among those recommended for this foundation’s board of directors, together with her husband Ogut.

Under these circumstances, it is not a coincidence that a troll account’s claims appear in Hilal Kaplan’s column but it is rather a sense of mission. We should also add that the annual budget of this foundation directing the troll accounts is 1,724,000 TL, which is financed by the taxpayer’s money, as Suheyp Ogut’s email to Albayrak dated September 6, 2015 revealed.

Slide 98-105

Government-backed media spreads the lies that were initially published by the Twitter trolls who are again financed by the government-backed media.

Slide 106-109

Justice is allowing the articles they pre-ordered or leaking the information and documents in the files. Afterwards, they are using these news articles as evidence. Just like a boomerang.

However, the most meaningful part is the government’s prosecutors leaking these documents, which is deemed as “confidential” to a state-owned news agency

Slide 110

To lead a case using leaked documents came across again when my arrest on December 29, 2016 and my friend, Emre İper’s arrest, on April 6, 217.

Slide- 111-112

In fact, the prosecutor in charge of my case, Fahrettin Kemal Yerli, even asked questions based on the leaked documents which appeared as a news story.

Slide 113-114

Do not get upset that I am blaming your prosecutors for leaking documents. I wil give you another example.

The decision notebook of the Cumhuriyet’s Board of Directors of Cumhuriyet Foundation was given to the attorney general, Yasemin Baba by our lawyers on November 17, 2016.

Slide 115

This news story, which was deemed confidential to the suspects and their lawyers yet open to the pro-governmental, on this document, could be found on the Aksam newspaper on November 19, 2016.

Slide- 116-117

Our lawyer’s plea for a trial on this issue was rejected. In mafia terminology, this is called as the “Omerta Rule.”

Slide- 118-120

In the so-called confidential investigation, the information was published every day in various media outlets, the conversations with persons desired to be witnesses in the case also took place in the pro-governmental media. In fact, sentences which never took place in the conversation were included in the news. The conversation which was published in Sabah newspaper on November 7, 2016 carrying the signature of Isa Tatlıcan is the most striking.

This interview is evidence of the great abyss between the media employees and your prosecutor, Murat Inam, and their job’s professional ethical principles, in this conspiracy against Cumhuriyet.

Another person whose opinion was sought was Ceyhan Mumcu, known for his hatred of the editorial and administrative management of Cumhuriyet. Mumcu was made a witness shortly after the publication of the interview because certain parts of his words.

One of these was titled, “Can Dundar knew of the Coup.” Another statement of Mumcu was based on accusation that “a high level administrator at Cumhuriyet was “bringing in loads of money to Cumhuriyet.” His claim was, “We must investigate the source of this money.

Since he lived in Ankara, Ceyhan Mumcu’s statement was taken based on instructions, where 11 questions were sent by your prosecutor Murat Inam. The 9th question is on the loads of money brought to Cumhuriyet, as I mentioned before. Even though in the conversation no names are mentioned, Murat Inam’s question is as follows: “What is your information and evidence on the explanations you provided in the media on the money brought by Akin Atalay’s in a suitcase when Cumhuriyet was facing financial problems.”

Unfortunately, the shallow cunningness portrayed by Murat Inam in adding Akin Atalay’s name to the questions is not the only problem here. Ceyhan Mumcu stated “I do not have substantiated evidence” when asked about Can Dundar’s information about the coup and “I do not have such a declaration” when asked about the money issue.

In other words, Ceyhan Mumcu stated he did not use the expression which led him to be a witness in the case and that journalist Tatlican lied.

Your prosecutors, who include the refuted interview in the files, used our news articles that were not disputed nor prosecuted to accuse us. I will leave it up to you to decide waht to say about this pitiful situation.

Slide 121-125

There is a simple truth that comes out from these hearings. This case is a trial against those who are trying to reveal the criminal records of the ruling government.

But according to your claim, journalism is not on court. However I tried to explain how a conspiracy is being staged and is the proof that we are here because of our journalism activities.

This operation is a conspiracy conducted by members of the judicial system that are controlled by a gang who has taken over the government and their accomplices in the media to cover up the truth.

It is a crime committed against the truth, the freedom of thought and freedom of expression, destroying the freedom of the press. It is also reveals the fact that journalism is being politically limited and used for the benefits of a political gang.

They are trying to make examples out of us to make the public hostage to fear and this totally lacks dignity and is unjust.

It completely lacks any respect as they are trying to completely eliminate freedom of the press.

It is clear what they are trying to do with this operation:

They are trying to capture and make submissives of those that expose their crimes and those who are not of them. Their main aim is to eliminate democracy, basic rights and freedoms to continue their criminal regime.

This country’s, this public’s memory is a deep hole composed of things they do not want to remember, the alice they witness, yet pretend not to see, facts they are afraid to face.

If the conspirators have confidence in these deep memory holes, they are mistaken. Because everyone who took place in this operation, will be judged in front of the law, I am sure. And some of their crimes do not have statute of limitation.

The conspirators committed crimes against humanity and the truth. My only wish is that they are not tried in the courts similar to that of we have now. I hope they will find themselves in front of a truly just and impartial and independent court where the law is above all else.

No one should doubt that we will do our best to make sure that these conspirators are tried justly.

Because, as contrary to those who believe in the law of revenge, we would like to have fair and impartial justice even for our enemies.

Now lets talk about the facts why you put me in the target, arrested and why you are still keeping me in the prison.

I have said this many times before; I knew I was going to be arrested in 2015, I got the news before and I was threatened. You do not have to be a genius to guess this. Because I was continuing to do what I know best, which is my profession.

Practicing journalism focused on human rights has always been a core principle in Turkey, where there has never had a strong connection to democracy, and instead a long list of offenses against basic rights and freedoms. I personally penned many articles during times when the state turned into a criminal organization, during times of torture, disappearances, executions, and the evacuations and burnings of villages.

I have written stories that revealed the government’s use of self-granted powers to settle personal interests and profit under the auspices of the “war on terrorism”. I did this because I believed it was the duty and responsibility of journalists to uncover the truths covered by the powerful ruling elites. I still believe this. This is why I have always been one of those journalists who were threatened and targeted. I have been on trials many times just like I am now. My accusers have always been state institutions and powers. I have never been convicted because I have always been a journalist who rely on the truth, and the motives of my accusers have always been revealed.

What the many painful stories I have witnessed and reported, have taught me is never to believe what the state or the powerful say on the subject of basic rights and freedoms or their infringement. Within this context of lies, I have always tried to find out what hasn’t been said looking at what has been publicisized and believed that the proper way to conduct this profession is doing it with skepticism. In an undemocratic country without an impartial and independent judiciary like Turkey, it is my duty and responsibility to speak out when the powerful governments are trying to present their lies as reality.

On the other hand, I have never been a person who takes his mind and belief in justice, hostage to revenge, unlike you. Like the people who submitted to one of the sides during the war for power between the two gangs, I have not chosen to take sides. I continued to stress that AKP and the Gulen Sect should be tried together for the crimes they committed together. Therefore, I have not been one of the hatchet men who is regarded as a journalist only in the eyes of the government. And, I shall never be. So, it is not surprising that I am standing here before you.

In anti democratic countries, what scares the ruling elite most is the truth coming to light, resulting in equalizing the playing field. Therefore, they do not want the truth to be mentioned and be heard. They maintain the secrecy of their shady activities under the cover of governmental secrets. In other words, what is called governmental secrets are the polluted waters under the cover of law. The responsibility to find who are swimming in those waters falls on the journalists.

In addition to pillage and corruption, the period during which AKP polluted the waters most during its governance, was the activities that they performed according to the role given to them by imperialism during the civil war in Syria. The reason why I was threatened by death or by imprisonment was some news pieces I wrote on this subject in the newspaper Cumhuriyet. Let us recall some of these news pieces about the shady cooperation between MIT (Milli Istihbarat Teskilati= Turkish National Intelligence Agency) and the jihadist groups that participated in the Syrian civil war;

  • February 9, 2015: “We were going to take the arms to MIT.” Slide 126
  • February 13, 2015: “Gunfire support to the jihadis” Slide 127
  • February 14, 2015: “Secret on TIR revealed” Slide 128
  • February 15, 2015: “Turkish border is a smuggler base” Slide 129
  • June 4, 2015: “The day the state collapsed” Slide 130
  • June 5, 2015: “ The transport of jihadis by MIT” Slide 131
  • June 20, 2015: “ISIS is in Turkey, God protect you” Slide 132

Slide 133 -“Ours is journalism, yours’ is treason”
Slide 134 – Prosecutor Aziz Takci interview
Slide 135 – Prosecutor Aziz Taci interview 2

After the start of the publication of these news pieces, a person who works at MIT called me on the phone. He was saying that I was “in the parallel bloc” and also that “I belonged to the Gulen Sect”, as is also mentioned in your indictment. During this phone call that happened in February of 2015, he also mentioned that I would be imprisoned and be punished for these crimes.I just laughed at such outrageous accusations. But it will be beneficial to recall the dialogue which is important to show how deep the government is in trouble and the type of people it is cooperating with:

I said to the MIT employee on the phone: “First look at what you yourselves are doing. The smartasses you were dealing with are selling the arms and ammunition you sent them to other jihadist groups.” Here is his reply: “We know. We determined who they are. We ended the cooperation.” Is it this simple?

After this phone call, threats started through the social media. What started this was a newspaper named “Vahdet”. It is required at this point to elaborate somewhat more on this newspaper which undertook the role of being the hitmen man of MIT.

(Slide 136)

It seemed that the publisher of Vahdet was Yener Donmez, who was the representative of the newspaper Akit in Ankara. The questions from where he found the funding to publish a newspaper, how he afforded the daily operating costs have no answers. But Vahdet’s publication stopped on September 1, 2016. Let me also add that Yener Donmez, who pointed me as a target, was later arrested for being a member of the FETO Sect, was using Bylock, and participated in some conspiracies. The threats, which were apparently led and administered from the same headquarters, started coming after Donmez pointed me as a target.

While the threats were continuing to come in, a policeman, who said he was from Public Security Branch Office, called me to say that he is going to deliver a notification. I invited the policeman to the newspaper and we met with him in my attorneys Bulent Utku and Tora Pekin’s office.He told us that Police Intelligence Bureau has received intelligence that I will be assassinated and therefore, they will provide security detail for me. When asked about the source of the threat, he said it was “Mihrac Ural group”.

 (Slide 137)

I told him that lately I have been frequently threatened, and that I thought that this is not done by the Mihrac Ural group but directly by way of MIT’s finger pointing. I did not accept the offer for a guard.

Previously, I had talked to Mihrac Ural on the phone concerning some news. I called him and told him that the police told me that he would assassinate me and conveyed him the conversation I had had with that policeman. Naturally, his response was a chuckle. I wrote an article about this conversation and the other details on the subject and posted it on Twitter.

Slide 138

Here, I have to remind you of the publication of a false news piece that appeared on the front page of the newspaper Yeni Safak just before this trial started, stating that I wrote an article on the orders of Mihrac Ural who was planning to have me murdered.

These were not the only crimes I was accused of. I was also asking questions about certain aspects of the coup attempt on July 15th, that were tried to be kept in the dark, and struggling to get answers to my questions.

If we are to sum up:

  • I was reporting on the murky cooperations that the National Intelligence Agency (MIT) forged with some jihadist groups.
  • Someone from the MIT, an institution whose traces I found in each and every shady situation, called me to threaten and accuse me of being part of the “parallel structure”.
  • I was finger pointed and slandered with the lie of operating for the “parallel structure” by the newspaper Vahdet, where a hitman who was to be arrested for being part of the FETO organization in the wake of July 15 was working at the time.
  • I started receiving a surge of threats from the same headquarters after the publication of this news piece.
  • The Police Headquarters decided to give me a security detail.
  • We made an official complaint after these threats, but unsurprisingly obtained no result whatsoever.

 

Slide 139-145

As you may very well know, the fact that we are being held hostage has nothing to do with what is stated in the indictment in front of you. This indictment is full of lies by people who know that they will not be able to hide the truth forever. The crimes of those very people who are currently directing the accusations towards us are in the indictment itself. The reason why the notion of justice has been trampled upon by the members of the judiciary under the orders of the government in the last 14 months is clear; it is because they are trying to patch over and close up every opening through which the light of truth may seep in. Unfortunately, this operation to slaughter journalism has been undertaken by the media itself. To put this in the words of your expert witness, “they are practicing journalism in line with the vested interests of a political gang with which they are in complicity, by concealing the truth through lies and manipulations.”

This operation, backed by political powers, has been conducted by members of the judiciary who follow orders rather than the rule of the law, and by the media who obeys a political gang. The lies that are attempted to be placed in this piece of scrap called the indictment as evidence were dictated to these ‘media hitmen’ weeks before the operation itself. The charges, which morphed into official lies, were popularized on the social media first, and then on the internet sites of the mafia media, their newspapers and television stations. We’ve demonstrated this clearly through appropriate examples.

When the trials commenced, we saw that not only the conjuring of consent, but the adjudication of this conspiracy itself was to be done upon media platforms acting as pseudo courts.

In the trials that started in July, prior to and during each hearing a gang composed of people masquerading as judges and prosecutors leaked the documents and information, spun out of lies, to the media acting as their hitmen. Even the indictment itself was handed over to these hitmen before it was presented to you.

(Slide 146-147)

On July 19th, a few days before the trial started on July 24th, the Yeni Safak newspaper was the source of fabrication. The records of my phone calls, which are not even in the investigation files, were on newspaper headlines with a lie to accompany. I was being accused of taking orders from a person whom the police department had previously warned me would assassinate me, even offering me protection.

(Slide 148)

We were to first learn your prosecutor’s advisory opinion on the 28th of July from the internet site of the Sabah newspaper. You publicly declared that the document carrying the name and signature of your prosecutor, Hasan Bolukbasi, was fake; but didn’t feel the need to investigate the gang behind this fake document.

(Slide 149)

We found out about your so-called evidence from Sabah’s internet site once more, before it was uploaded onto the UYAP system during the hearing held on September 11th.

(Slide 150)

In the same manner, we heard the decision you were to give on September 25th from the internet site of the Star newspaper while the hearing was still going on.

(Slide 151)

What these examples, which may also be interpreted as something of a synchronization problem, signified was quite explicit: the people giving your instructions did not even care to hide it.

During the hearing on October 31st, the personal correspondence belonging to Osman Kavala, taken from his phone records, appeared in your court even before his interrogation; Mr. Kavala also found himself in jail by a similar conspiracy. But this information had previously appeared on the internet site of the Sabah newspaper yet again.

Slide 152

You have been telling us continuously since the beginning, that you are not putting journalism on trial. We try to force ourselves to believe you for once. But then we remember the questions you are directing at us. If we leave the ones about the claims of irregularities during the elections of the foundation aside, it’s all:“Why did you print this news piece?”. “Why did you use this photograph?”, “Why did you put this heading on your article?”, “Why did you print this article on the front page?”, “Who hired you?”, “What is the duty of the editorial consultant?”

 

These are the questions you ask.

You, who are trying to prove the existence of an illegal organization based on what we put on social media, on our news reports and photographs, on our articles, on the headings, and even the page layout of the newspaper, closed your ears to our requests for you to investigate the illegal organization within the very courthouse you are serving in. You already know who is leaking the information, who is dictating the false news to you as a directive, as much as we do. Actually, this is exactly why you ignored our requests; namely, because you cannot investigate this gang composed of your colleagues, some of whom occupy higher ranks and posts.

However, you know better than I do that law exists to prevent the abuse of power. That is why law is more powerful than politics and government. This is what should be the case.

When that is not the case, the people who occupy such higher ranks and posts without having the necessary competence hold on to injustice with all their might. They turn a blind eye to lawlessness. They become accomplices to the system based on lawlessness. Since they are the ones who best understand the meaning of the state of lawlessness, they continue to commit crimes in order not to lose their positions. This is what some of your colleagues are doing.

You had witnesses specially selected so as to justify the lies in the indictment. You, yourself, as the presiding judge, mentioned that some of these witnesses considered respectable/reliable by the public prosecutors, were not so in your opinion. I will return to this a little later. At this point, I want to remind you that none of the statements made in the courtroom by persons whose testimonies were included in the indictment by public prosecutors of yours while trying to prove us to be “terrorists” actually validated the accusations brought against us. Even employees who had talked indiscreetly about the internal matters of our newspaper in the offices of public prosecutors mentioned that particular portions of their statements had been cropped out, used out of context and distorted, explaining how the prosecution had hence abused its power.

The person laying bare the true nature of the court ended up being Sukran Soner. She mentioned that she had spent a large portion of her professional life in the courts of juntas, and that your court was no different from them. In her statement that she presented to the court in Silivri, she said, “The previous set-up trials orchestrated by the Gulen Sect were the First Silivri Trials. The present one is now the Second Silivri Trial”, thus revealing that although the conspirators are different, the conspiracy is, in fact, the same.

We also watched the performances of two witnesses, who were deemed to be respectable/reliable by your court. Alev Coskun, who claimed to be a keen follower of Ataturk, emerged as a discontent, perfidious informant, acting as an accomplice to the sworn enemies of the values championed by Ataturk for the sole reason of obtaining a post.

We came to know Alev Coskun not only as an informant but also as a witness desperately trying to offer up the Cumhuriyet newspaper to the (Presidential) Palace to be dealt with it at will. In this framework, your true intentions, as well as those of the prosecutors insisting on our confinement, were revealed. This trial is simply a dramatic circus, designed to force Cumhuriyet to become a pro-government paper.

Then there was Riza Zelyut, who returned the award given to him by the Gulen Sect when he realized that it was a center of evil. In spite of this awakening, after the instruction of his employer he wrote an article that sang praises to Fethullah Gulen and his Sect, just around the time of the conspiracy trials in 2012. If you were to ask him, he is the best ever columnist in Turkey. Yet his one and only fault is that he writes upon instruction from above.

Slide 153

Dogan Satmis appeared as your last minute witness.

During the conversation heartily snatched at as evidence by your prosecutors, Satmis replied to the question “Who was your favorite boss?”, with the answer: “Sedat Simavi, because he used to give us gift baskets with gold in them on New Year’s Eve.” He was the editorial consultant at Cumhuriyet during the time in which some of the news pieces cited in your indictment as incriminating material were published. Kadri Gursel, on the other hand, was kept in captivity for being the editorial consultant for 34 days only, even though he had nothing to do with the news pieces in question here, which also do not, in any case, contain criminal elements of any sort. Murat Sabuncu, who did not bear any responsibility or authority, said “All the responsibility is mine” with respect to those news reports and articles, and has now completed 14 months in captivity.

Yet Dogan Satmis, who “loves the boss that gives gifts of gold”, and says that he could ignore the truth because “there is no news worth dying for or being in prison for”, became your witness. We were not surprised.

Because evil is like water. It always finds the lowest level and flows down there. It is not a coincidence that evil is able to organize so easily in a country containing a lot of people with some kind of emptiness, open space or cracks in their personalities.

Based on his professional experience, attorney Bülent Utku explained in detail why the indictment has nothing to do with law. By individually citing the accusations, he demonstrated clearly how the prosecutors had disregarded the law in order to conform to the instructions they had received.

Slide 154

Attorney Akın Atalay sent each bit of slander whizzing into the trash bin of history, where they belonged. He proved that hitmen labeled as expert witnesses were as bad at telling lies as the prosecutors themselves.

We heard you, the presiding judge, say things like “I agree that the indictment has problems” and “we also think that the complaints about the expert witnesses are justified.” The statements “We will call in some of the witnesses, but of course not the likes of Gülerce. Rumors and hearsay do not have any judicial value,” also belong to you.

A short time ago we showed you how these testimonies you refer to as “rumor and hearsay” were used in the indictments, and how they constituted large portions of the bill of charges. You are not only continuing to try us based on an indictment that is built upon these lies, but you are also still keeping us in jail on this kind of grounds.

If, as you have said, you do not consider these hearsay testimonies to have any judicial value, it is obvious that you need to end this trial with an acquittal and put an end to this injustice.

You mentioned but one name, yet we know who you mean when you say those speaking gossip only. Hüseyin Gülerce and Latif Erdogan, who served as administrators in the Gülen Sect, now called an illegal organization, for 25 and 40 years consecutively. Another one is Cem Kucuk, who praised Gülen during the “era of bliss”, (the period of cooperation between the Gülen Congregation and the government).

You are concluding that the statements of these witnesses, who were accepted to be credible by your colleagues who happen to have or don’t have their signatures on the indictment and investigation documents, are merely hearsay and have no judicial value. You are right.

The statements made by those who do not have dignity, honor and self-respect do not have not only judicial value, but any value at all. Because, as Sevgi Soysal says  “Lumpens are the filth of the system.” And when the system itself turns into the filth, only those who feed from the same garbage dump pay attention to what those lumpens say.

These lumpens who position themselves according to their owners are now accusing us of being “terrorists” and “traitors.” If we were, however, to hear flattering words from them, it would only be then that we would truly doubt ourselves.

I leave to you to find an explanation for the contradiction in having included in the indictment all the hearsay testimonies in which you were unable to see any judicial value and your insistence on using them to implicate us.

With your preliminary proceedings report you accepted this indictment, which contains testimonies based on rumors, biased expert witnesses, and, in your words, is problematic. We also gleaned from your statement “It is strongly suspected that the evidences to be collected will be incriminating,” in the same preliminary proceedings report that you considered the hearsay testimonies factual and had already presumed us to be guilty.

For we were among those who rejected the tyranny of crime rather than those who surrendered to fear or acted out of their own interest.

Our objection is to be forced to close our eyes, ears and mouths to all the evils, injustices, inequalities and unfairness that are being perpetuated; and to accept the system of plunder and pillage with undisputed obedience. Opposing what is wrong is not an evidence of our guilt, but a confirmation of our humanity. And this is the cause of the hatred towards us.

To be brave surely does not mean having no fear at all, but instead to be able to speak up and raise your objection whilst knowing full well what you stand to lose. For cowards do not live. They only survive. Let me take this opportunity to say that the silent majority will bear the onus of answering the question of what it feels like  to remain silent and not object while all of this horror is playing out in plain daylight before their very eyes when merely witnessing evil is enough to stain the soul.

During the hearings in July, a dialogue took place between you, the presiding judge, and me about not knowing each other. Now looking back in the wake of the performance of this court in terms of slaughtering the law, I can say that I was wrong. I am acquainted with you and all the members of your court including the prosecutor.

You were present at the OdaTv trials that were initiated as the result of a plot by the Gülen Sect, charging me with being involved in the Ergenekon movement. In that instance your name was Mehmet Ekinci, the prosecutor’s name Cihan Kansız, and the other judges Hikmet Sen and Seyfettin Mermerci.

The judiciary of the Sect would massacre the notion of law by bringing unfounded charges against people and then toying with the carcass that was once law in trials that were simply shows to put on an ‘appearance of justice’. Today’s judiciary is doing exactly the same. Thanks to you, I have gained yet another experience that demonstrates what happens when the scales of justice balancing impartiality, independence, conscience and logic break down.

You have become the accomplice of a political operation that was a clear set-up. You have kept persons you knew to be innocent in jail using evidence that was not judicially acceptable and charges that were not real offences.

You either obeyed directions or had political motives. Both alternatives lead us to the same conclusion. There is no rule of law here! And so we can have no justice.

For no justice can come from the collusion of interests of those in power and their minions.

For attempting to use the judiciary as a means for revenge by rendering the law a tool of hatred is what dictators do.

For under dictatorships where the only justice that exists is that of power and the powerful, courtrooms become black holes swallowing up justice itself.

And because of all these, this trial is evidence that justice cannot be obtained through the legal process.

You continued this court case, which had crumbled apart from the very first hearing, by insisting on unlawfulness, and appeared before us with the same justifications each and every time.

You must know that those who continuously repeat the lies of others not only amplify them, but also internalize them until that big, walloping lie ceases to be somebody else’s and comes to belong to the one who is repeating it. It becomes their “reality”. Or they become the prisoner of that falsehood and turn into a liar.

Although it was obvious from the onset that this political operation was a set-up based on lies, your prosecutor repeated the same requests from day one. In turn, your panel repeated decisions in line with these requests. And so, you fell captive to a lie.

It is for this reason that I have nothing to request from you.

My statement is a response in advance to the concluding remarks and demands, which I know are to be made by your prosecutor, and to the verdict of your panel – the contents of which have already been decided in some other place way before, and which I also already know.

It is also yet again an accusation.

Each and every one of our lawyers have explained the unlawful acts that have taken place since the commencement of this rigged show on the 31st of October 2016, with their belief in the rule of law for which I have great respect.

They explained the laws, the related sections of the constitution and the decisions of the constitutional court and the court of appeals. They talked about the European Convention on Human Rights, other international conventions and the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights. They laid out all the breaches of law that have been committed with your complicity.

Surely, law may be discussed with those who are not lawyers or legal experts.

But there is no point in engaging in a legal discussion with those who have allowed their personal interests to trump the rule of law.

The verdict that you will announce has no importance for me.

Because, if we are to put it in the terms used by the presiding judge of this court in describing the testimonies of some of the false witnesses, the verdict that you will be announcing ‘has no judicial value’. Just like the lies of the prosecutors who submit themselves to whomever is in power and the fabrications of the puppets you call expert witnesses…

We, who have stood upright and with a clear conscience before you since the very first day, as journalists strongly adhering to the ethical principles of our profession have been absolved by history. Yet it is impossible to say that history will pass a favorable judgement on you.

I have no doubt that you will sentence each of us to penalties predetermined somewhere else entirely. But you should know that carrying out directives under the wings of a hierarchical chain will never be able to exonerate you from your responsibilities.

In my opinion, the only truth in your preliminary proceedings report that may be considered an indication of your upcoming verdict is the conclusion that we “would continue committing similar crimes in the event of being released.”
You are once again right to be concerned.

Because, whatever you do, we will hesitate neither in our search for the truth, nor, once we find it, in handing it back to its rightful owner, the people.

For we are journalists.

We are the journalists whose paths are illuminated by Uğur Mumcu, who was never afraid to lay bare the dark secrets of the government’s loci of power.

We are the followers of Musa Anter, who toiled to have the language of peace prevail over that of conflict in this country.

We are the brothers and sisters of Hrant Dink, who was trying to build a bridge of brotherhood between peoples even when he was living with the restlessness of a dove.

We are the comrades of Metin Göktepe, who struggled so that justice, equality and freedom would take root in this land.

Because we are journalists who believe that our profession should be performed as it deserves; unflinching, upright, and unwavering from what is right and truthful in both behavior and character.

Because of this, we will continue telling the truth even if you murder us as you have done in the past or imprison us as you are doing now.

Because journalism is not a crime despite what the owners of totalitarian regimes, their judiciaries and collaborators may say.