At the Monday hearing (12 March) of the Oda TV trial, the Istanbul 16th High Criminal Court decided to release journalists Nedim Şener and Ahmet Şık pending trial together with Oda TV writers Çoşkun Musluk and Sait Çakır.
The decision was very much appreciated by the audience at the Çağlayan (Istanbul) Courthouse.
The eleventh hearing of the Oda TV trial started at 9.30 on Monday morning. Until five o'clock in the afternoon, only defendant Sait Çakır had requested his release from detention. President Judge Mehmet Ekinci gave a one-hour intermission to discuss Çakır's request and the demands of the defence lawyers.
The decision for the defendants' release was based on the "possibility of a change of the quality of crime" and on "considering the period of time the defendants remained in detention".
Şener and Şık were in detention for 375 days. A total of 13 defendants are standing trial in the scope of the case after defendant Kaşif Kozinoğlu, member of the National Intelligence Agency (MİT), passed away in the meantime. Six defendants still remain in prison.
Prof Yalçın Küçük, former Chief of Police Hanefi Avcı, author Müyesser Yıldız and journalists Soner Yalçın, Barış Terkoğlu and Barış Pehlivan are the imprisoned defendants of the case. Defendants Ahmet Mümtaz İdil and İklim Ayfer Kaleli are being tried without arrest. The defendants are facing prison sentences of between 7.5 and 43 years each.
Yalçın Küçük and Doğan Yurdakul did not attend the hearing. The latter underwent surgery last week after he had been released from detention due to health reasons.
The trial was postponed to 18 June 2012.
The defendants entered the court room at 10.30. Court President Ekinci announced that the requested investigation of the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK) into computer images included in the case file as evidence had not been completed yet. At the previous hearing, the defence lawyers had objected the list of experts sent to court by TÜBİTAK. Ekinci said that the research council sent a new list with a total of ten names, three of whom were going to be appointed as experts by the court. The judge noted that this probe was going to be completed as soon as possible.
Hanefi Avcı's allegations examined by TİB
Referring to the defence speech of defendant Hanefi Avcı presented at the previous hearing, the court board announced to have his statements reassessed by the Telecommunication Communication Council (TİB).
Avcı had claimed that he had had no information about the fact that a draft of his book was saved at one of the Oda TV computers. By means of a projection the defendant had explained technical details how documents from computers at the Oda TV office that were also included in the indictment were created at a different computer and then transferred to the Oda TV computers.
Judge Ekinci also read out the answer obtained by the General Police Directorate on the question whether the clandestine Ergenekon organization charged with the attempt to overthrow the government was in fact a terrorist organization. The General Police Directorate announced that the "Ergenekon structure is a terrorist organization".
Concerning documents confiscated at the home of detained defendant Barış Terkoğlu that apparently belonged to the MİT, Judge Ekinci claimed that these documents were "confidential". Therefore, they were kept by the Istanbul Public Chief Prosecution, Ekinci said.
"You created an illegal organization out of journalistic activities"
Lawyer of defendant Şık, Firket İlkiz, continued his speech of defence at the Monday session. He addressed the court board saying, "You present media activities as evidence for your allegations".
İlkiz reminded that the allegations put forward in the indictment were regarding "membership of an armed terrorist organization". He claimed, "You set out to create an organization on the basis of journalistic activities".
The lawyer said that his client was facing accusations on the grounds of the book "The Imam's Army" allegedly written by journalist Şık and initially planned to be published under the name of the former head of the Intelligence Department, Sabri Uzun. İlkiz asked the court board what had been done about Sabri Uzun until today.
'An offence cannot be created from suspicion'
Lawyer İlkiz continued, "The indictment mentioned 'the intent to misinform the public'. There was no intent for misinformation. The 'intent to discredit the Ergenekon operation' was also mentioned".
"You cannot impute this to Ahmet Şık. There is no evidence that he intended such a thing. You cannot create an offence because you have such a suspicion".
"We should read the book line by line together. It does not include 'certain statements on certain pages' as claimed in the indictment".
"Decide on what you accuse people of"
İlkiz pointed to allegations of propaganda and suggested to open a trial on propaganda charges in that case. "You are closely following up everything, so why did you write such a bad quality indictment", he criticized.
"After a while, you refrained from the accusations put forward on the grounds of the book. Now you say that we aided and abetted the armed Ergenekon terrorist organization according to its aims together with being a member of that organization. First of all you should decide on the charges and then we can prepare a defence accordingly", the lawyer said.
"They are repeating the same things again and again. These people are not in prison because of their journalistic activities but because they committed a crime. So, what is the crime Ahmet Şık committed?" the lawyer questioned.
Who informed the Prime Minister about the book?
Fikret İlkiz also mentioned the speech of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan given at the European Parliament in April 2011 in which Erdoğan had compared Şık's book to a bomb after the unpublished drafts had been seized.
"Who informed Erdoğan about the contents of the book? Even before an indictment had been prepared, Erdoğan compared the book to a bomb".
"Şık is not a defendant but a journalist of this trial"
"During the interrogation in custody, he was asked about the lives of journalists and his relations to them. All of Şık's news sources and data were seized. According to the ECHR, if the sources of a journalist are being seized, given that this was of public benefit, this can only be done with a judge's decision".
"Ahmet Şık is a journalist of this trial".
Şık: "First of all the nonsense has to be eliminated"
Pursuant to a one-hour intermission, the session was continued at 13.40 hrs with the interrogation of the defendants.
Ahmet Şık stated, "I use my right to remain silent. However, be aware that I remain silent because I am not guilty and because I of my rightfulness".
Şık added, "The indictment speaks of a terrorist organization lead by Yalçın Küçük, joined by Soner Yalçın and aided by Nedim Şener and me. That is nonsense and first of all this farce has to be eliminated".
Judge Ekinci replied, "The court has no prosecution claim but listens to the statements of the prosecutor's office and of you".
"Prosecutor took conversation sequences that served his purpose"
The president judge asked Şık about the time he worked at the Nokta magazine. He said that former publications director Alper Görmüş wrote in his column that "Ahmet only saw the coup diaries after they had been published". Judge Ekinci asked if this was true and Şık answered that he did not understand the connection between the coup diaries and this trial.
Şık was also asked about the telephone records included in the indictment. Subsequent to Soner Yalçın's custody, he had a conversation with a person called Necati. Judge Ekin asked whether Ahmet Şık had really said that Yalçın's custody was related to Israel. Şık replied, "I did not say anything like that. The person I talked to said that. You have to read the tapes as a whole. The prosecutor took out the parts that were useful for him and left out the parts that did not serve his purpose".
Ekinci furthermore asked Şık whether he had assisted Nedim Şener with his book and Şık said that he did not.
Şener: "Prosecuted for things I did not write"
The first question addressed to Nedim Şener was about a possible series like Şener's book on the murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink. Şener responded that no such series was planned. Thereupon, Ekinci read the tape records of a telephone conversation with a person called Ertürk. Apparently, that person had said that the sequels of the book on the Dink murder and also of the book about Fetullah Gülen were going to be printed. Judge Ekinci asked if this was related to the book "The Imam's Army".
Nedim Şener replied, "I am being asked questions about books I did not write and I am being charged for things I did not write. (...). I have been detained for 13 months in the scope of this trial. How am I going to explain to my children that I am kept in detention for writings I did not compose".
The judge referred to a phone conversation in which Şener apparently said that he threw away a flash disk and CDs at home. Ekinci asked why he did that.
Şener answered, "If I tidied up like that why should I talk about it on the phone? Moreover, one of my computers was used by my wife who stayed at her mother's house at the time because she was sick. I told this to the police who searched our house but they did not show any interest". (EK/HK)